Many writers don’t enjoy marketing. I love it. I did a good bit of advertising and marketing before I became a serious writer, so it doesn’t feel like a chore to me. When I received my contract from Mercer University Press for the anthology I’m editing (and they plan to publish in 2017) I was beyond happy to see their marketing plan.
I went to work completing the author’s questionnaire and marketing form, which is now up to 11 pages and I’m not finished yet. Some of the information I’m asked to provide:
50-word biographical sketch, like you might see on the back jacket of a book. (This is harder than it sounds, to write your bio in 50 words. It makes you focus on what’s most important about yourself as relates to the book.)
Précis of your book. This is another 50-word challenge, trying to express the major ideas and the central contribution your work makes.
Book description. In 250 words (much easier!) describe your book as if you were writing a book jacket or promotional piece for potential readers. I had fun with this part.
Audience. What’s the target market for which the book is intended? This was also easy—women, and men who love women. (I expanded on that a bit for the form.)
Competing books, and what makes this book different? I had found two anthologies with similar themes, which I enjoyed reading. In comparing them to my book, I was able to focus more intensely on the book’s purpose.
Advance readers and blurbers. I am fortunate to have found five published authors who have agreed to write blurbs for the book. I’m still working on a list of potential advance readers.
The questionnaire continued with requests for contact people at bookstores, newspapers, and online and print journals who will receive press releases and requests for interviews and readings. I was happy to list contact people I know personally at 9 independent booksellers in six states! Next came book festivals, writing conferences and trade shows I hope to attend with many of the contributors to the book.
How exciting that the press requested this information sixteen months prior to the book’s publication date. I’m sure I’ll be sending them updates between now and then, but it feels terrific to have a marketing plan beginning to develop so early.
And now for the hard part. Along with the contract, I received a copy of the press’s guide to their style for publishing. It’s a supplement to—and sometimes a replacement of—the Chicago Manual of Style. As I read through this document with a view towards editing the eighteen new essays for the book, organizing all 23 essays into thematic sections, writing an introduction, and correctly formatting the permissions information for the 5 reprints being used in the book, I took a deep breath. The essays are due to me by the end of December, and the edited and organized manuscript is due from me to the publisher by the first of March, so I’ll only have two months to complete this work. January and February are good months to stay inside, right?
I’m over the moon happy to be working with the good people at Mercer University Press. And now, whether you are a writer or a reader or both, you know a little bit more about what goes into birthing a book. Stay tuned….