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Marketing for "in-betweeners" (agented, not published)?

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I've been doing a lot of research about social networking/marketing/building an online platform for my upcoming conference presentation on the subject, and while there are loads of info out there for beginners, and even more for those who are promoting a book, I'm not finding so much for those who are "in-betweeners" on their path to publication.

So, help a girl out and share with me your nitty gritty marketing tips for those who have an agent but haven't sold a book.  I'm curious to know things like:

  • Yes or no on putting writing samples on your blog? What about blurbs?
  • Website.  Yes or no?  And if yes, what should the focus of the website be?
  • What about a Facebook Page? Set it up now, or wait until you have sold a book?
  • How important is social networking for those who haven't sold yet?  How much time/energy should go into it if there isn't a product to promote?
  • For those who are now published, are there things you wish you would have done before selling a book, or things you wish you wouldn't have done? (In regards to social networking/marketing yourself, I mean.)

And feel free to ruminate on the subject in general.  I'm simply curious about what others have done that's worked/not worked, so I can answer any questions from conference-goers.

Thanks a bunch!

P.S.  I've also asked this question on my blog, so feel free to click over there to continue the conversation:
#1 - April 18, 2012, 07:49 AM
« Last Edit: April 18, 2012, 07:53 AM by elissacruz »

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This is what I commented on your blog, which I also joined. You got one more follower :)---

From my little perch, for what it’s worth:
I didn’t make a website until after my first sale. Even then, it was a home-made labor of love by my thirteen year old. It still is the same ‘not professional’ looking site, and I’m more than all right with it, but you or your agent may want to take a more polished approach.
I didn’t start a blog until my second sale, to a small publisher that felt online presence was a good thing and encouraged blogging. I’ve been ‘trying it out,’ and so far I like it for its own sake. But I have been told it is not an effective sales-tool. I would imagine your agent has a professional assessment on this also.
This brings me to suggesting that you ask your agent for input on this. I have gone the unagented route (I write a lot of PBs and few agents are interested) but if I had a professional to help guide me, I would knock on her door.
#2 - April 18, 2012, 10:38 AM

Here's my 2 cents FWIW:

I personally think it's a great idea to set up all your social media, ahead of any sale.  Just put it all in your author name so it'll follow you no matter which book you will end up promoting and whatever changes occur to a title.  This is also much more authentic and organic than suddenly appearing and trying to get friends and follows all over the place when it's your turn to promote.

You want to start building community and engaging with other writers, readers and authors, and being part of groups that relate to you and the subjects that your writing will touch on.  But think of all of these sites as professional sites, of course.  Anything too personal or religious or political may not be appropriate.

One thing that is nice to do on your blog is to start reviewing books within the genre you write.  Only post the books you end up loving (leave negative reviews for other sites), and share these posts across facebook and twitter and goodreads, tagging the post too.  You can even contact the author to let them know your post is up.  It's a great way to be a part of your particular niche in a positive way, and to get found in the future.  For example, I have a review on my site about THE SUMMER I TURNED PRETTY by Jenny Han, and it shares elements with one of my own summery contemporary YAs.  Folks that look up the review of one, find out about me too, and this review gets lots of hits.

#3 - April 18, 2012, 11:07 AM
WHAT I MEANT... (Random House YA)
*Agent at Jennifer De Chiara Literary Agency

Mike Jung

Hey Elissa, my personal philosophy about social media is that I've never thought of it primarily as a marketing tool - it's always been a tool for engaging with the kidlit community first. That's still true now that I'm published, although we'll see if/how it changes as my pub date approaches. Sometimes that means indulging my own small-scale creative whims (Twitter empire, vlog clips, impromptu collaborative stories written via Facebook updates), sometimes it means spouting off about books that I like (either as part of a focused group effort, which does get more explicitly marketing-oriented, or just to be a fanboy), and sometimes it means just hanging around and seeing all the interesting stuff that other people are doing with their careers. I've tried very hard to keep expectations and demands about my own career low on the totem pole, not because I lack self-interest (I have a VAST SUPPLY of self-interest), but because it's not the way in which I'll function best as a member of this community. Doing that would create psychological barriers in my own mind (and probably the minds of others), reduce my ability to be a good colleague, and blunt the pleasure I take in positive things that happen to others.

My online presence has been really good for me in terms of putting me in opportunity's way, if that makes sense. Professional opportunities of all kinds are floating around out there in the ether, and I think I've been able to swim out there into the same big cloud of ether by establishing a social media presence that's an authentic representation of myself, a free-spirited channel for creative expression, and a way to genuinely express my appreciation for all the things I love about the kidlit industry.
#4 - April 18, 2012, 11:28 AM
« Last Edit: April 18, 2012, 11:30 AM by Mike Jung »


Lots of writers use blogs and facebook to market to readers. The old rules said this would only work if you already had a fan base. This means pubbing book one and using the blog and facebook to sell book two.

I think you want to establish a presence and a base BEFORE book one, so you can use those tools to market book one. The tricky thing is providing content related to your fiction that readers will want to visit.

My first book came out when a lot of this stuff was new, so as I approach my second book, It's like starting over. I'm personally trying the route that Marie suggests. Since I read a bunch of books anyway, when I finish a good one, I write something about it. I'm thinking of adding contests as well. YMMV
#5 - April 18, 2012, 11:55 AM

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This is a great post (and questions)! I'm an in-betweener and have enjoyed reading the replies and look forward to reading more.  :-)
#6 - April 18, 2012, 01:04 PM

Thanks, everyone.  You've basically stated what I already plan on saying, but it's good to get confirmation that I am on the right track!

217mom--Thanks for the follow!  I'm up to SEVEN followers now!  *fistbump*  But thanks for the reminder to ask your agent.  Good advice, always.

marielamba--Thank you so much!  Good idea about the reviews, especially of books similiar to yours. 

Mike--As usual, you and I see eye to eye on this.  I social network because I LIKE IT.  Not because I expect anything from it.  That's going to be a huge part of my presentation, actually.  Those poor souls will have to listen to me tell them to go out and have fun.  I'm such a meanie...

Jeff--Yes, the tricky part is finding the right content.  I have a whole bunch to say about that, though I might have to save it for another conference session some other time, since I only have an hour to fit this all it.  (Yikes.)

justjoan-- Thanks!  I think there are a lot of in-betweeners who wonder what they could/should do.  I don't know how many of them will be at this conference, but I want to be prepared to help them anyway, since it seems like they are the least remembered.  (At least, I feel that way.  I'm an in-betweener, too.)
#7 - April 19, 2012, 10:09 AM


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