Guest Post: Five Things I’ve Learned After Marketing My Young Adult Debut

By Heather Marie

2014-03-07_1394157700After you sign a publishing agreement, whether it’s your first book or tenth, you immediately start to consider your marketing strategy. What people don’t tell you upfront is that you are about to embark on a crazy adventure of ups and downs, sometimes more downs than ups, and you’ll find yourself overwhelmed, exhausted, and maybe even depressed.

Don’t get me wrong, getting published is a flippin’ amazing experience! But the work doesn’t stop there. You wrote the book. You got it published. Now you have to sell it. And, yes, I mean you.

Your publisher and/or marketing team/publicist will be there to help you, but you have to be ready to put in some leg work. There are some things that work better for others, and some things you do that’ll completely flop, or some things that’ll blow everything else out of the water. The most important thing to remember is that you actually don’t have to do everything at once, if at all. You only have to do what works for you, period.

I learned this the hard way. After driving myself into the ground with marketing, I finally had time to reflect on what I won’t be doing next time around to spare my sanity.

1. Purchasing swag without draining your bank account in the process.

The minute you get the okay to tell the world about your book deal, you instantly want every promotional piece of swag you can get. First of all, swag is an excellent way to get your book out there. People love it and they’ll gladly take it off your hands, but let’s remember what happens to that swag once people get it. *eyes bookmarks scattered throughout my apartment* I can honestly say that my bookmarks have in no way helped with promotion. They’re just pretty to look at and that’s perfectly okay. However, I think next time I’ll save them for events or send them in bulk to libraries.

The pins and posters were fun as well, and I think the pins were a bigger hit than anything else. But I broke my back trying to get all of this stuff even after everyone told me not to. My advice would be to stick with what you can afford, but don’t feel obligated to go big. Of course, do what works for you, but also consider saving your funds to attend conventions where you can meet new readers in real life. If I’d known ahead of time the amount of money I’d end up spending, I would have held back and saved up for all the events I’ve missed out on.

2. When promoting on social media, timing is everything.

As exciting as it is to share that new piece of big news, try holding off on posting until you know people will see it. The best way to do this is to test a few things on your media accounts and see when you get the most hits. I’ve seen several people post brand new happenings in the super late hours when absolutely no one is around to see it, or in the way earlier hours when no one is even awake. What I’ve found is that my Facebook page gets the most hits on Monday’s in the late morning. I know that sounds crazy, but it’s true. Twitter on the other hand gets the most hits in the early afternoon on Fridays.

Obviously, I don’t only post big news on these days, but you can see what I mean about timing. I’ve gotten myself familiar with the certain times throughout the week that really make a difference. It’s easy for your posts to get lost in the craziness of social media, and if you want people to share or celebrate along with you, you have to familiarize yourself. Trust me. You’ll notice a huge difference in your posts when you do this. It’s hard for me to hold back, but if I find something out on a Saturday, I’ll wait until Monday to share it. Learning how to market yourself is so important. And when you do it is even more so.


3. Breaking up your marketing so you’re not hitting your readers over the head.

Now that we’ve gone over the timing, let’s go over how much marketing you do at once. For instance, I had one week during release where I had a few major interviews/posts going up at once. I was honestly so sick of talking about myself at that point that I knew everyone else was sick of me, too.

Sometimes you don’t have control over what gets posted or when. At one point I had this amazing interview all scheduled with another major thing, and the interview was moved to another date which left my marketing team and I stuck. We had to run with it anyway, but ultimately the major thing wasn’t as successful as it could have been. Also, I had things get switched around so much that I was stuck promoting a billion things at once that flooded each other out.

The thing I learned here is that it’s okay to space things out. If that means waiting a few days or a few weeks, by all means do it. Sometimes it’s better to let people forget you have a new shiny book coming out and just be your normal human self for a while. That way, when that big thing gets promoted, people will actually stop and listen, as opposed to being like ‘meh.’

4. Telling people to buy your book is not going to make them buy your book.

It’s one thing to promote your book with fun posts and interviews or even a giveaway, but spamming them into buying your book isn’t going to work.

That is one thing I have never done, nor will I ever. Though that doesn’t necessarily mean I haven’t seen it done. An easy way to lose followers aka new readers is by spamming them with constant tweets and posts about buying your book. You know what I mean. The tweets that are very clearly generated through a website that posts your Amazon link every thirty minutes. What I am guilty of (going back to the fact #3) is promoting too many things at once, which can repel people from ever wanting to check your book out.–not because they don’t want to necessarily, but because it doesn’t seem new anymore.

People want to buy something they’re excited about. If something has been shoved into their face (newsfeed) enough, they’ll lose interest quick. Be yourself. Be real. That’ll sell your book more than any promotional link.

5. After all of this is said and done, please take time out for yourself.

You’ve published a book. Be proud of yourself right now. Allow it to sink in and really enjoy it. I’m serious. Being a published author is one of the greatest feelings of accomplishment. I’ve never been happier, but damn, do I wish I would have allowed myself time to appreciate the small things.

I worked myself so hard those last few months prior to release, that afterwards I hit rock bottom. I was exhausted emotionally, mentally, physically, and whatever else. Being a writer means your job is never done and that is absolutely true. There will always be something you have to do, whether that’s your next manuscript, an interview, an event, etc. I’m excited for these things. I love it! But I always, always forget to take care of myself first.

I ignored all the signs that told me to slow down. When my personal life was getting too complicated, I dived even further into my writing. I pushed myself so hard that I didn’t realize how burnt out I was until I emotionally fell apart.

Your book and readers will always be important, but remember that your health is priority. Take a day off. Go out with your friends. Read a book or two over the weekend. Do anything!

Just don’t forget to take care of you.

Heather-AuthorPhotos-3-WEBSIZEHeather Marie lives in Northern California with her husband and spends the majority of her time at home reading. Before she followed her dreams of becoming a writer, Heather worked as a hairstylist and makeup artist for several years. Although she enjoyed the artistic aspect of it all, nothing quite quenched her creative side like the telling of a good story. When the day had come for her to make a choice, she left behind her promising career to start another and never looked back.

Heather was included in a Cosmopolitan Magazine article as a “Latina YA Author You Need on Your Radar.” Her debut novel, The Gateway Through Which They Came released in August from Curiosity Quills Press.

Seven Things You Need to Know About After the Book Deal

By Maria E. Andreu

18079898Have you ever noticed that, in romantic comedies, the end is very often a wedding? What’s up with that? Love stories don’t end at a wedding. That’s when real life begins, the business of figuring out who does the laundry, where you’re going to live, and how in the world you figure out where you spend Thanksgiving and Christmas. It’s the same thing with publishing. The day you ink the book deal may be the happy ending in the movie version, but in real life it’s just the start of the story.

After many years of dreaming of being a writer, I got my movie-worthy happy ending. I got the first agent I pitched for The Secret Side of Empty, from a house so prestigious just reading their client list gives me goose bumps. We sold the book in the first round of submissions to a publisher who has done amazing things for the book, truly an ideal publisher for my first time at the rodeo. (And there was more than one offer to weigh). Anyone who hears my publishing story wants to stop me there and sort of bask in the moment, happy in the knowledge that it does happen that way sometimes. And it does.

But then you wake up the next day.

Just like no one tells you what to do once you get back from the honeymoon, here are 7 things no one will tell you about what it’s like AFTER the book deal.

  1. Editing is terrifying. Sure, you’ve edited before. You’ve joined critique groups. Maybe you’ve been brave and gone to pitch slams and other places where your words have been torn apart and criticized. Great. Now you’ll have a team of bona-fide professionals poring over your every word. I got an editorial letter so detailed that I shut the document immediately after seeing its page count (let’s just say this: it was in the double digits) and couldn’t make myself open it for 2 weeks. Be prepared. It’s not about you. It’s about making the work the best it can be.
  2. Book promotion is exhausting. Yes, you’ve waited your whole life for it. Yes, you’re going to love most of it. And you’re going to be exhausted anyway. You’ll be thrilled to learn that your publisher will schedule a blog tour for you (maybe, if you’re lucky). You’ll forget that it means you’ll have to actually write all those posts, answer all those interview questions, send head shots, book covers and photos of your frizzy hair in the 8th grade or the bicycle you learned to ride on. Then you’ll go to schools, libraries, festivals, and grocery stores and auto body shops too, if they’ll take you. Fun, yes. Mostly. Take naps now.
  3. Your launch date is not real. Just like a lot of brides stress the wedding and forget it’s actually a marriage they should be planning, so too a lot of authors obsessively plan the Twitter party and Tumblr extravaganza that will be their Launch Day, forgetting that it isn’t really even a Real Thing. My books shipped almost 3 weeks early. When I asked, a helpful professional told me, “Unless your name is J.K. Rowling, no one’s taking up warehouse space to perfectly orchestrate your big reveal.” It will help you to remember that book promotion, like a marriage, is something that you’re in for the long haul. So don’t stress the day so much and come up with a long-term strategy.
  4. It’s a crowded marketplace. You thought it was hard to get attention when you were in the throng of hopefuls? Wait until you see your book on a shelf full of all the others who broke out of the pack. You’ve got a couple of seconds to catch a potential reader’s attention, online and off. If the competition of trying to get published bothers you, you should know it doesn’t stop after your book is out in the world.
  5. Reviews hurt. Bad reviews can cut you to the quick. Even good ones can sometimes leave you scratching your head. Much ink has been spilled advising writers not to let critics get to them. That’s great advice. Also pretty hard to follow, particularly at first when you’re hungry for any sign of how your book is doing and what people think. My advice is to ignore reviews completely – good and bad. It is advice you will not follow. Hold on, I’ve got to go check my Goodreads page real quick.
  6. People will find things in your book you didn’t realize were there. I’ve had readers ask me about love triangles I didn’t intend to include and legislation I didn’t mean to reference. I’ve had readers write to tell me they love a character and a whole bunch of others reach out to tell me how much they loathe that very same character. All with supporting evidence. When you release your book out into the world, it is no longer yours alone.
  7. It will be hard to find time to write. Do you struggle with finding time now? Imagine having all the responsibilities you have now, except take away a lot of your free time on weekends and evenings (because you’re at book festivals and you’re writing blog posts). Now write. That’s what it’s like to try to write books # 2, 3 and beyond.

Lest I seem like too much of a downer, let me say that publishing my debut novel has been magical, the culmination of a lifelong dream. I’ve been honored to speak at schools and libraries and events all over the country and have received wonderful attention from the trade reviewers. I’ve gotten the tingles when I discovered that my book is in libraries as far away as Singapore, Australia, and Egypt, as well as across the United States. Just imagine… my words being read by someone right now somewhere halfway around the globe. Amazing! I share my “things no one will tell you” not to discourage you, but to invite you to look at the whole picture. Like anything worth striving for – a marriage, parenthood, career – publishing a book is a massive undertaking with highs and lows. Once you reach the peak of Published Author, there is another one, just as big, right in front of you. Then another, and another, all the way to the horizon. And that’s what makes it beautiful.

Maria AndreuMaria E. Andreu is the author of the novel The Secret Side of Empty, the story of a teen girl who is American in every way but one: on paper. She was brought to the U.S. as a baby and is now undocumented in the eyes of the law. The author draws on her own experiences as an undocumented teen to give a glimpse into the fear, frustration and, ultimately, the strength that comes from being “illegal” in your own home.

Now a citizen thanks to legislation in the 1980s, Maria resides in a New York City suburb with all her “two’s”: her two children, two dogs and two cats. She speaks on the subject of immigration and its effect on individuals, especially children. When not writing or speaking, you can find her babying her iris garden and reading post apocalyptic fiction. You can also find her on Facebook and Twitter.

The Secret Side of Empty has received positive reviews from Kirkus and Publisher’s Weekly, among others. The novel was also the National Indie Book Award Winner and a Junior Library Guild Selection.