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Tuesday, May 5, 2015

A2R Marketing: Book Launch and Blurbs

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During the publishing process, there are occasions when the author has some down time. When the book is with beta readers or is in the hands of the editor, the author has a few weeks where he or she can focus on marketing.

Often overlooked is the tool of blurbs for covers or early reviews. You can write a blurb yourself (a how-to post is here) or it can be from someone else. Blurbs can be a one-paragraph review or as short as one sentence and can be found on back covers (most often), front (usually in their shortest form of a few key words), or the first pages just before the title page. Using blurbs on the book's Amazon page or other marketing materials helps define your work to potential readers. I'm going to focus on those written for your book by someone else.

For an emerging author, these endorsements can be gold. Blurbs help with:
  1. Branding. If you are publishing a mystery, having an endorsement of an established author with several mysteries under his belt will help readers recognize you as a mystery author.
  2. Loyalty. Genre readers tend to be loyal to certain authors. The biggest hurdle is getting someone to sample your writing if they have never heard of you. Receiving an endorsement from a known entity breaks the ice by saying, "A writer you love, loves this writer." Placing their confidence in you is easier.
  3. Leverage. Name recognition of the person providing the blurb expands the base of those people who could find you.
  4. Legitimacy: If you are an indie and have traditionally published authors behind you, you are one step ahead of the pack.  
Established authors use blurbs as part of their marketing push. It gives them marketing copy that is a lot more interesting than "BUY MY BOOK!" In fact, the pros just float the blurb without saying much more than than. They trust the reader's intelligence enough to know that they'll figure out how to get the book when it's released. A good blurb draws the reader to the book.

Most blurbs come from other authors, but often overlooked are experts in the fields your book touches upon. (I've written more about blurbs here.) As I've gone through the process of soliciting blurbs for my upcoming novel, I've done some things really well and have sucked at others. Here's what I did well:

  1. I noted what authors wrote in my genre (thrillers/suspense) and geographic area (Boston/Ireland).
  2. I made a list of authors that I know personally or have met via social media.
  3. I figured out how to reach them directly via email.
  4. I had a cover image ready to be sent along with the request.
  5. I wrote a pitch that told about me, my book, and my marketing plan.
    • No one wants to back a dud. I told them what my marketing efforts have been and what my plans are for more - this book is part of a series, I have a growing fan base, and am actively engaged in growing this base. 
Here's what I did wrong.
  1. I did not leave enough time for most authors to read my work. (I gave 3 to 4 weeks. I should have allotted 6 to 8.)
  2. I did not reach out to more authors. (I'll admit to being shy.)
  3. I was still working on my ARC during the blurb process. They were not reading a finished product and even minor tweaks were disruptive. Lesson learned. 
  4. I targeted an author outside of my genre. (I write thrillers. She writes cozies. My violence and sex is 'on the page,' hers is 'off the page.' She needs to be true to her core readers to protect her brand. Remember, it's a two-way street.)
  5. I targeted authors in the midst of their own book launches. Again, this was a time/timing issue.
If you decide to go for blurbs and early reviews, know that you will receive declines. Folks will decline for many reasons - timing, wrong genre, publisher's policy, agent won't let them, etc. It's all part of it. Be gracious. Just by asking you have expanded your sphere and proved your dedication to your career.

At the end of the process, I received some wonderful blurbs from authors I greatly admire and respect. (I'll write more on that soon.) I learned a great deal, too

More on A2R (Author to Reader) Marketing can be found here.