Whenever the subject of marketing comes up in writer circles, the question of timing invariably surfaces as well.
When do I start thinking about marketing?
“Now” would be my answer. No, I don’t mean spend $800 on a website design and call the local bookstores to schedule your signing tour. Unless, of course, you’re ready for that. What I mean is this: Before you create your character, develop your plot, stroke the first key, ask yourself “What about my novel makes me different from the thousands of novels that will hit the bookstores this year?” Is it a protagonist with a unique occupation, like writing crossword puzzles? An interesting setting like post-Soviet Russia? A different time like Chicago in the 1890s?
I can’t help you with this part of your marketing plan. This is entirely up to you. I assume you have a hint of creativity living somewhere in your cranium. Stretch it now. Put yourself in the chair of an acquisitions editor. Manuscripts fly across your desk like spitballs past a substitute teacher. What do you want to see? What would stand out?
Okay, that’s as far as I, or anyone, can take you on that topic.
To answer the “When” question beyond that point, you first must decide where you are in your writing career. Randy Ingermanson uses a simple approach to this. You’re either a Freshman, Sophomore, Junior, or Senior. And no, that doesn’t mean you’ll be a published author in four years from the first moment you decide to pick up a pen.
Your mission, if you choose to accept it, is to go to Randy’s website and figure out where you are. Be honest. There’s no shame in being a Freshman for three years. We all learn and grow at our own pace. That’s a statement you’ll here me use a lot, by the way: learn & grow. That will be the one consistent piece of your journey.
Now, do your homework. We’ll pick this up on Friday.