Follow the Leader

Originally posted on the Xchyler Publishing blog, Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Inside Marketing: Follow the Leader, by Scott Tarbet

Close your eyes and make three pictures in your head of your favorite author, then open your eyes again and keep reading.

Harry Potter Author J. K. Rowling

What was your author doing in those three pictures? (I’ll use J.K. Rowling just for an easy example.) Yes, in one of them she was writing. But in the other two what was she doing? You guessed it: publicity. She was marketing. She was connecting with the public, building her audience.

After her first best seller she had a whole squadron of people helping her do it, but even then she did it too. Still does. Even now she doesn’t sit back in her book-lined study tapping away on an old manual typewriter. That’s all romantic and good and stuff, but doesn’t reflect the realities of the business.

Now just for fun, open up another browser window to images.google.com and type in J.K. Rowling’s name. Hit enter.

Welcome back. How far down did you have to scroll before you got a picture of Rowling actually writing? Did you find any?

Try the same thing again with John Grisham. Did you find any?

So, what were they doing? You see where I’m going with this? They were promoting or signing or appearing at conventions or . . . or . . . or . . .

You say you don’t care for the ultra-popular, ultra-profitable authors example? You say you’ve got more literary pretentions? Try it with Khaled Hosseini, author of The Kite Runner, And the Mountains Echoes, and A Thousand Splendid Suns, one of the darlings of the academic literati. Also happens to sell a lot of books. Same result.

Much of what we as authors do, just like everybody else in the world when you get right down to it, is to peddle our wares. In the Internet age we blog, we tweet, we facebook (horrible string of verbs unknown ten years ago, right?).

Only when we get moderately successful is someone going to ask us to come do a book signing. Until then we’re going to be asking other people to let us come do a book signing.

Here at the X we specialize in fostering new talent. Believe me, everybody here wishes we had a bigger marketing budget than Stephenie Meyer’s martini budget. And she’s a Mormon, so . . .

But we don’t, so we make do with what we’ve got. What we have—all we have until we hit a gusher–is the team’s time, enthusiasm, skill, and hard work. And you, as an author, are an integral part of that team.

Twight Author Stephenie MeyerSo what is your part of that effort? Blog. Tweet. Facebook. Pinterest. EIEIO. And help the X team get your posters, covers, jacket blurbs, etc., ready to go. Promote yourself, promote your WIP, promote the X. The rising tide floats all boats.

One more thing: even if you don’t have a day job, if writing is your day job, let’s face it: not many of us can write more than three or four hours a day—it wears out our brains too much. Good writing is hard work! If it’s your job what should you be doing with some of those leftover four or five hours? Marketing of course.

Stay tuned: we are working on an Author Efforts checklist, a script for your marketing activities, which will be finalized in the next couple of weeks. As you think of more things we can add to that checklist, email them to me, or to Amanda. Then close your eyes and picture yourself on TV being interviewed by Jon Stewart.


Author Scott Tarbet and his long-suffering and much better half, Julie, are co-authoring a Steampunk adventure, Diamond Jubal: A Midsummer Night’s Steampunk, slated for a Christmas release.

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