Marketing and Fiction

October 8, 2009 | Written by admin

I've had more than a dozen budding novelists write to ask about marketing their fiction. The question usually sounds something like this: I've got a novel coming out soon… What sort of marketing should I be doing? 

Again, the answer has several parts. First, understand that your publisher will do some marketing of your book. It may not be much, but anything they do is a help, so send them a thank-you note. Second, spend some time getting to know the basics of marketing. (I did several recent posts on that topic, so look back over the past few weeks of this blog.) Third, the core of all marketing is the same: figure out where the potential readers are, then try to get in front of them. And you're going to need to personalize your marketing plan — in other words, you can't rely on one basic plan that will work for every book. 

I mention that because it seems like both publishers and authors have a tendency to think that there are one or two marketing ideas that will help any book succeed. That's not true. A marketing plan is unique for each book, since every title has a unique audience. If you read something on a writers' blog about how giving away parrots made a pirate novel work, you can't expect that "the secret to selling fiction is to give away parrots." (Though… now that I think of it, parrots do sell  books…)

Anyway, my point is that you're going to have to come up with a unique plan that is suited for YOUR book. And that leads to think of a couple things…

First, an author I represent, Kit Wilkinson, just had her debut novel release with Harlequin. Kit created a big release party, got everybody she knows involved, and sold 141 books at her signing! (If you're not aware, most of us have gone through signings where we had five people show up, sold two books to Aunt Marge, and ended up spending most of our time talking to bookstore staff and giving customers directions to the ladies' room.) Kit grasped the notion of becoming a big deal locally, making her debut an event, and grabbing some attention. It got noticed in the local newspaper, she's been invited to numerous groups to talk about herself and her writing, and she's doing all she can to keep her momentum going forward. That's the sort of unique marketing that can help an author get off to a strong start. 

Second, I want to tell you about a seminar I'm doing on marketing your fiction. I was having a conversation with Jim Rubart, a writer whose first novel releases with B&H soon. Jim has spent his entire adult life in marketing, and when we began chatting about the sort of things he wanted to do with his novel, I realized here was a kindred spirit — a guy who understood that he needed to create a unique plan to capture an audience for his book. The more we chatted, the more I realized we thought alike, and we had some information I thought novelists would like. So we decided to put together a Fiction Marketing Seminar, where we'd invite a small group of ten novelists to get together and help them create a unique marketing plan for their books. 

Now we've got it on the calendar. We're going to do this November 20-21 in Dallas, and December 4-5 in Indianapolis. This is a two-day seminar, aimed at novelists who have a book coming out in the next year, and who want to learn how to create their own marketing plan. No motivational speeches. No warmed-over ideas from five years ago. No selling dopey products. Instead, we're just going to focus on some important topics:

  • How to establishing an author brand
  • What to expect from your publisher
  • How to maximize social media
  • The keys to great ad copy
  • How to get free publicity for your novel
  • Finding untapped markets for your novel
  • How to become a favorite author at your publishing house
  • How you can effectively work with an outside publicist

I think you'll find it helpful. We're trying to keep the costs low, so all you have is a one-night hotel stay and the seminar fee. No hidden stuff, and we won't try and shove a bunch of extra products down your throat. I'm really excited about this, and I think novelists will find it helpful. (In fact, we did a beta test of this seminar recently with four author friends, and they raved about it.) 

We're working with Tiffany at Command Performance Speakers Bureau to get everything arranged, so it'll all be handled professionally. If you want to know more, check out our website:

We're trying to create something that will turn you into a MASTER marketer. So stop by the site, read all the details, and feel free to ask me questions. Would love to have you join us!

Okay – tomorrow, it's back to your questions.


Posted in Marketing and Platforms

  • Joyce Magnin

    I want, need to come to this, Chip. Just have to figure out how. What an great idea.

  • Sheila Deeth

    Oh wow. I think I want to be Kit.

  • Tiffany Colter

    Great post. Joyce [and anyone else who has questions or would like to know more] my contact information [phone and email] is on the website for the Master Seminars that Chip provided in this blog posting. Feel free to contact me with any questions you have.
    Tiffany Colter

  • Richard Mabry

    Great idea, Chip and Jim. And I can attend the one in Dallas and sleep at home. I’m off to check out details.

  • Buck Young

    Good idea, Chip. Talking to my Lord and my Lady about Atlanta in Feb.

  • Jim MacKrell

    When can we preregister for the Dallas seminar?

  • Rachel Hauck

    Mucho success to you!! Maybe I can make the Indy seminar!

  • Tiffany Colter

    Hello everyone.
    I love the excitement about the seminars. I’ve received some emails and I’m responding to everyone as soon as I receive them.
    One common question is lodging. I am finalizing with the hotels today and Monday. We are negotiating great rates for participants and all that information will be on the registration form. I am negotiating the rates for the day before until the day after in case you are able to get cheaper flights or you’d like to do sightseeing.
    Feel free to keep sending me your questions. I hope to see all of you there.

  • Lynette Sowell

    I’d love to be in Dallas (short drive for me) in November, but don’t know that I can swing it just now. Great concept though! Maybe I can work out something for one of the dates in 2010. :)