Job Description: Author/Marketeer by Jeannie Lin

15 Feb

I haven’t written a word in seven days.

It sounds like confession when I say it like that.

For the six months after The Call, I stayed really busy. Butterfly Swords required two rounds of extensive edits before being accepted. I then wrote and sold a related short story to Harlequin Undone. I had completed three manuscripts before selling. My editor wanted to see the other two so I polished the follow-up novel, The Dragon and the Pearl, and also completely re-wrote the first book in the series. After I sent both manuscripts to my agent, I finally had a moment to catch my breath.

Now what? Do I try something new? Maybe something in  a more popular genre? Or do I expect my agent to peddle my hard sell manuscripts forever? I couldn’t decide.

Fortunately, my editor dangled a possible release date for Butterfly Swords in front of me. The perfect distraction. So here’s my new job description, one which I’ll have to execute alongside my writing tasks.

Marketeer Extraordinaire

Responsibilities:

  • Assign and procure marketing budget
  • Research marketing options – ads, bookmarks, giveaways, flyers, etc.
  • Create marketing plan
  • Identify venues for ads
  • Design promotional materials
  • Schedule opportunities to network, blog, and go to conferences
  • Negotiate time with Author Extraordinaire for PR activities such as networking, blogging, and going to conferences

When I first started writing, I thought a great book would sell itself. I’m sure that’s still true to some extent. But a book is a product. How are people going to know to buy it if they’re not aware it’s out there? Ay, there’s the rub.

I went full steam for about two days before reality set in. Already the marketing budget is edging on the entire amount of my first advance. I had dreams of advertisements in multiple languages and bookmarks and little customized charms.

There’s so much to do! It’s a fast and furious marketing strategy for what will amount to about a two month window of opportunity. The task is shiny new and challenging. Most importantly, I’m getting excited all over again about the book and, in turn, it’s making me more excited about starting the next writing project.

Which brings me back to the beginning.

Author Extraordinaire is what I set out to be. Without her, Marketeer has nothing to sell. On the other hand, I can see Marketeer robbing Author of her precious writing time by justifying that this could be their one and only book if sales tank.

They say the best way to increase your sales is to write the next book. And then I suppose I should write one after that and another one after that. When’s the right time to focus on marketing? And how much is too much? Do debut authors make the rookie mistake of spending too much time on promotion or not enough?

Marketeer Extraordinaire wants to know. She’s quite new at this and it took Author over four years to just begin to figure out writing. Marketeer doesn’t have that much time to learn, so she’s going to need a little help. And soon, very soon, Author is going to want her stage back.

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16 Responses to “Job Description: Author/Marketeer by Jeannie Lin”

  1. December February 15, 2010 at 9:59 am #

    Great topic!
    I’m excited to see what you come up with Jeannie!

  2. Tami February 15, 2010 at 10:23 am #

    Wow, great post! I didn’t realize just how much time and effort went into marketing on the author’s part after the book sale. Egads.

    It would be nice if we could just write a book from our heart and then … sort of … release it into the wild, like a rehabilitated bird. *laughs*

    I like how your job description has gone from being a single writer pounding away on a keyboard in a cubicle to a multi-employee boutique agency getting off the ground.

    I wonder if I should start training a marketing and advertising manager now.

  3. briaq February 15, 2010 at 10:25 am #

    I’m so glad I don’t have to think this big about this yet. One of the joys of knowing some friends are a few steps ahead is learning from amazing women like you and watching how you handle everything with grace 🙂

  4. Jeannie Lin February 15, 2010 at 10:26 am #

    The scary part is…I’ve only just begun to think about promotion. I haven’t even started spending the time to do all the tasks I’ve outlined yet and it’s already a time suck. A fun time suck, but a time suck nonetheless.

  5. Jeannie Lin February 15, 2010 at 10:32 am #

    Tami – LOL. I guess we are like a little mini-office in an of ourselves. What I learned looking at authors who are a year or two ahead of me, career wise, is to use your skills from your “real life”. Kimberly Killion is a graphic artist. You can see how much thought and care she puts into her website, promotion materials, and advertisements. Angie Fox has a background in marketing. Her marketing efforts on her debut novel, The Accidental Demonslayer, had to be a contributing factor to hitting the NYTimes bestseller list. My skill (I hope…) is standing in front of a classroom. That’s why I’m going to try speaking at conferences — maybe that’s the way I can get my word out.

    Bria – You’re more right on looking to the authors that have gone ahead of you. I rely on a lot of advice from wonderful resources like Kim and Angie.

  6. Felicia Holt February 15, 2010 at 10:52 am #

    It’s inspiring – and daunting – to see and hear how all of you deal with the challenges involved in being a writer. Writing, marketing, planning, managing your ‘real life’… I think maybe the ad really needs to call for a super-hero.

    Being a super-hero-in-training, I will, like Bria, lean back and watch you don your cape and mask and try to figure out how you manage that magic flying thing I can’t seem to get the hang of. 😉

  7. Katrina Williams February 15, 2010 at 12:25 pm #

    Jeannie! You make me tired just thinking about all the work you do in real life on top of all the writing and business side of writing. I don’t know how you do it, but you’re an inspiration to me.

    Also, I like the term Marketeer. I’m envisioning you in the front of the classroom with mouse ears and a theme song: J-E-A-N-N-I-E L-I-N (OK not the right number of letters but maybe it could still work!)

  8. Ella Drake February 15, 2010 at 5:03 pm #

    That’s quite the balancing act! I’m pulling for Author Extraordinaire to win the time tug-o-war. More Jeannie Lin to read!

  9. Jeannie Lin February 15, 2010 at 7:33 pm #

    Flicka – The secret is I give up crucial things like cleaning my office, seeing the sun, paying the bills. Actually I’m quite lucky to work at home. I’m also a mad multi-tasker on the computer.

    Katrina – Hmmm…mouseketeer sounds way more fun. After you’ve worked so hard on a book, you want to do everything you can to help it succeed. You make the time.

    Ella – Author Extraordinaire is apparently out catching up on pleasure reading. She’s hoping to sneak in one more book before it’s time to work again!

    P.S. The real secret is I have no little ones to take care of yet! The writers who really have my respect are the mothers who still manage to feed the kids and the creativity.

  10. April Morelock February 16, 2010 at 11:57 am #

    I’m ascaried too!!! The idea of marketing is terrifying to me. I just see this HUGE black hole for my time. The sheer volume of opportunities is vast – which options do I choose.

    I just don’t know. Someone help me.

    Oh, I don’t have an agent yet or a book sale. I’d better enjoy the time while I have it.

    April

  11. Victoria Janssen February 16, 2010 at 11:58 am #

    Hmmm, maybe set your TIME budget for promotion before anything else – maybe arrange the heaviest promo for right before the book comes out, so you can take more advantage of the window when it’s actually available.

    I, personally, am not much for spending money on promotion, though I do have nice business cards, and this time around, I paid a little bit to have some web ads on carefully-chosen blogs. I’m not sure how much of a difference that made.

  12. Kate Pearce February 16, 2010 at 12:34 pm #

    I’m going to be a little contrary here. I think the best thing you can do is write a great book, which you did, and find a great publisher for that book, which you also did. Harlequin Mills & Boon are exceptionally good at promotion, distribution and all that stuff, (that’s why thet are #1) so that means your promotional efforts can be more focused on what you like to do than most first time authors.
    I’d suggest doing the things you like rather than blasting every possible website, publication, blog, magazine etc etc. And remember, writing the next book should take priority.

    I have to admit, that I don’t do a hell of a lot of promotion these days. Over the years, I’ve cultivated some good relationships with other writers and reviewers, got a decent mailing list, I Facebook and Tweet, print bookmarks, and that’s about all I have time to do 🙂 It’s very hard to say what works and what doesn’t, so as long as you remain within your budget and don’t exhaust yourself-you’re probably doing just fine 🙂

  13. Jeannie Lin February 16, 2010 at 2:28 pm #

    April – I agree. Enjoy this time and write, write, write. Sometimes, I think it was a blessing that it took a long time for me to get published. (I know it’s shorter than some, longer than others) That gave me time to finish all three books before anyone was even interested.

    Victoria – It helps that your books stand out so nicely too. That’s good advice to save the time commitment for when it counts. I figure this excitement will fade back in a bit only to come back closer to game time.

    Kate – Thanks for the encouraging words! It’s so hard to know on the first book though whether readers will nibble and bite. It feels like my first year teaching. I spent way more time than I should have on things that didn’t matter because I didn’t know what mattered yet!

  14. briaq February 16, 2010 at 3:22 pm #

    Look out Jeannie or we’ll all be begging you for a “what matters” blog 😉

    Thanks!

  15. Jeannie Lin February 16, 2010 at 4:02 pm #

    Let me tell you, color coded folders for students turning in work? Yeah, that didn’t matter.

    Oh, you mean about promoting your book. You can bet i’ll be hovering around the promotion themed workshops this year at nationals.

  16. Meg February 17, 2010 at 7:21 pm #

    Author Extraordinaire-

    Although this is admittedly a comment of self-promotion and I hesitated briefly before writing, I know Bria would…or hope that Bria would allow it since she knows my back story and current plot (now if only she knew what chapter I’d find my hero and how it all ends!). Anyway, I couldn’t resist popping in with an offer to help with that marketing since that is my new business and EXACTLY the reason I want to work with writers- so you can WRITE and create those amazing novels I love to read! Call it a win-win situation.

    You can sign up for the newsletter and get a list of ideas on what you can do via the internet (with very little budget) and a bimonthly newsletter packed with ideas on how to use social networking, blogs, press releases, etc. to sell your books and create a fanbase. Check it out at http://www.outsidetheboxmarketing.org or http://www.twitter.com/megbusdev.

    Thanks, and good luck with your books! I can’t wait to read them!
    Meg

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