HOW TO MAKE TIME FOR MARKETING YOUR WORK
by BRUCE HALE
Does this sound familiar to you? Sometime last year, in between crafting tweets, revising my LinkedIn profile, following up with editors, networking with librarians, researching publishers, and making all the promotional efforts expected of authors today, I found myself swamped.
How, I wondered, do I find time for all this publishing-related work, when all I want to do is create stories?
Then, one Saturday, on my usual morning rounds of the farmers market and sundry other errands, I hit upon the answer: Marketing Saturday. I already designate one day a week for buying fresh produce and such, so why not designate one day a *month* solely for promoting and marketing my work?
The concept behind Marketing Saturday (or whichever day you designate) is simple: No story writing or editing; only marketing and promotion. It’s as easy as three Ps in a pod (you should excuse the mixed metaphor):
To pave the way for a successful Marketing Saturday, I first create a file where I store all the random ideas on book promotion and marketing that come to me. Articles from SCBWI’s Kite Tales, posts from Publisher’s Weekly’s Children’s Bookshelf, to-do items like making flyers and postcards — all that stuff goes into the file.
Then, when my Saturday rolls around, I’m ready to address these things with a minimum of fuss and bother. Clearing the way for work is half the battle.
2. PLAN & PLUG
After reading through all that strikes me as relevant that day, I prepare a marketing plan and plug the to-do items into my calendar — otherwise they’ll never get done. Before you wonder whether one needs an MBA for that, know that my marketing plan is just a to-do list broken out by month. Nothing fancy.
For example, to promote my upcoming SCHOOL FOR S.P.I.E.S. book, I’ve got a list of activities like: write website copy, announce new website, post on listservs, email blast to friends, and so forth. Rather than becoming overwhelmed by the list, I just plug an item or three into each month on my iCal, breaking the whole thing down into bite-sized chunks.
Sometimes I’ll do some actual promotional work during my Marketing Saturday — updating the website, creating the aforementioned flyers, or whatever. Other times it’s all about reading and planning.
But whether I do it then or later, the work must get done somehow. Inevitably, some of those marketing actions will slop over into my writing days — and that’s okay. Taking time to create the to-do list and plan it takes a lot of the sting out of giving up time from my writing, and actually makes that time shorter.
Want to get going on your own Marketing Saturday? Here are some starter ideas to point you in the right direction…
If you’re not published…
- read PW’s Children’s Bookshelf (subscribe for free at publishersweekly.com) or e-zines relevant to your writing
- refine your query letter (for tips, check out How To Write Irresistible Query Letters, from Writer’s Digest Books)
- send out query letters to five publishers
- research editors and agents on blogs, the SCBWI Market Survey, and other sources.
If you’re published…
- work on your school visit flyer
- post on children’s literature-related listservs (remembering to add value, not just promote your own books)
- plan your blog/newsletter/Twitter/Facebook posts
- create curriculum tie-in activities to promote your books
- research schools that might like a visit from you
- read Guerilla Marketing for Writers
- read 1001 Ways to Market Your Books and create to-do lists from it.
And whatever you do, keep on working that promotion. Consistency is key. Jack Canfield and Mark Victor Hansen reached the NY Times
bestseller list with their Chicken Soup books by doing five marketing actions every workday. Can you commit to at least one Marketing Saturday?
Bruce Hale began his career as a writer while living in Tokyo, and continued it when he moved to Hawaii in 1983. Before entering the world of children’s books, he worked as a magazine editor, surveyor, corporate lackey, gardener, actor, and deejay.
Bruce has written and illustrated over 25 books for kids. His Underwhere series includes Prince of Underwhere and Pirates of Underwhere. His Chet Gecko Mysteries series includes: The Chameleon Wore Chartreuse, The Big Nap, The Malted Falcon, Hiss Me Deadly, and others. More at http://www.brucehale.com/