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The Secrets To Marketing Fiction

When my first book (The Cliffhanger) was published nearly seven years ago, I had high hopes of its success. I mean I am, after all, a PR person – so how hard could it be to market fiction? Granted, up till that point I hadn't taken on a lot of fiction — well, to be honest I hadn't taken any fiction. Fiction is tough and everyone knows it. But now I was going to get my chance, and what better way to start than on my own book? When The Cliffhanger hit the #1 spot on Amazon it was no accident, it was a creative push that got it to #1 and ironically, the pitch that prompted this Amazon soar had nothing to do with the book. Curious? Then read on. When I was first pushing The Cliffhanger I did all the things a good fiction author is supposed to do.

I sent out review copies, created a stunning press release, scheduled book events. All of these things were great, but they didn't give it the momentum the book really needed to succeed. The book signings were good, but a tad boring, the press was interested, but not enough to feature me more than once. I knew I needed to do something, but let's face it, when you're writing romance it’s tough to find a pitch that has the stickiness to it to, well, stick. When you're taking a fiction book to market you need to have more to hang your star on than a groovy story – you need something the media can sink their teeth into, you need grit.

That 'grit' is the reality piece of your story. The truth is there's always a thread of reality that weaves through each piece of fiction. Find your reality and own it, if need be, craft your pitch around it. Let's say you wrote a book about a woman overcoming domestic abuse. You've done your research, you know the stats, in fact, you might even be considered an expert. Why not then turn a portion of your campaign into a domestic violence pitch? The same can be said for just about anything. They key here is to find that grain of reality and see if it's interesting enough to create a new peg. Once you've found your hook, own it. What I mean is become the expert on that hook and familiarize yourself with ever statistic, every study and every new trend. When The Cliffhanger was released I soon realized that marketing romantic fiction was only going to take me so far, but marketing the method of printing was more unique.

Why? Well, The Cliffhanger was one of the first books in the San Diego area to be published via print-on-demand. Hence, that became my story. Until the Presidential race of 2000. Now that was an entirely different story. No doubt many of you will remember the counts, recounts, chads, and hanging chads, right? Well, one morning I woke up to find our local paper with the following headline: "Cliffhanger." I knew right then that if I couldn't find a hook to hang my star on that angle, I might as well hang up my marketing hat forever. It was at 3 a. that I woke up with an idea so stunning, I knew it had to work. I raced out to the office supply store the minute it opened to pick up several packs of clear labels.

I got out the postcards I had printed with the book cover on them and stuck on labels with the following slogan: Getting tired of the Presidential cliffhanger? Try this one. The Cliffhanger, a novel. No politics involved. I mailed 500 postcards out that day while praying the election wouldn't get called. I mailed these postcards to everyone in the media I'd ever contacted. Ever! Days after my mass-mailing, I was walking through my living room, when suddenly I spotted my book cover on the screen. I was stunned. The local TV anchor was saying, "This has got to be the best thing I've ever seen. This lady wants you to go buy her book. I say everyone should rush out and buy it.

" And everyone did. That afternoon my book shot up to the #1 spot on Amazon, where it stayed for three months. It even beat out Harry Potter (which was #4 at that time), yet Harry got the movie. Go figure. The point is that finding an "anchor" will help you push your campaign. This works for book events, too. If you've written a crime book, why not "theme" your event with DO NOT CROSS Police line tape (if you can get your hands on it) or some other prop? The key is to be unique, carry your theme throughout your marketing and hang your star on unique ways to promote your book. But the second piece of this, the piece that's become all the rage recently, is the visual aspect of your book. Now I'm not talking about the cover, I'm talking about the movie.


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