Swoon Author SM Koz: Marketing Practice Makes Almost-Perfect
Six months after publication of Love Me, Love Me Not, I decided I needed to get serious about marketing. Kelsey, my awesome publicist from Swoon Reads, did a great job around release time with a blog tour and getting important positive reviews, and that hype lasted a good few months, but as expected, it dwindled. So, being the Type A person I am, I made a comprehensive list of marketing opportunities and decided to dedicate at least 10 minutes each day to activities that would spread the word about my books.
First things first, I needed to reach out to local bookstores and make sure they knew about SM Koz. Yes, I know, this should have been done much earlier, even before Love Me, Love Me Not was released, but… well, life. So, I put on my most professional-yet-hip-enough-to-write-about-teens outfit and headed to a local bookstore. In addition to being Type A, I’m also an introvert, which means I then sat in the car for at least ten minutes, psyching myself up. How do I introduce myself? How do I introduce my books?
It turns out, I should’ve spent more time planning for the dialogue that would take place because it ended up being a little… awkward.
“Hey,” I said with my biggest smile. “I’m a local author and I’d love to discuss my books with you!”
“Here’s a form you can fill out and we’ll be in touch.”
“Oh, okay. Yeah, sure. Sounds good,” I mumbled while perusing the form, which was designed for indie authors. As I started to fill it out, my annoyance grew. Could they not even take a few minutes to learn about me before handing the form over? When I reached a section that didn’t pertain to me, I asked her what I should do since I was published by Macmillan.
Her jaw dropped, her cheeks turned red, and she then profusely apologized, telling me she assumed I was an indie author. She offered to pass along my information to a manager. On the one hand, I was relieved my books would receive more personalized attention, but, on the other, I was even more annoyed by the two-tier system. As a previously self-published author, I took offense at the way indies were treated, at least in this bookstore.
Still, this first experience helped me hone my pitch for other bookstores once I realized how important it was to say within the first two sentences that I was published by Swoon Reads, an imprint of Macmillan. As I later learned, the Macmillan part was key as many booksellers don’t yet know Swoon Reads, but everyone knows Macmillan.
In the end, out of the six bookstores I visited, three showed significant interest and my closest one offered to host a signing event for the release of Risking It All. Yay! However, starting out, I assumed they would all be thrilled to showcase a local traditionally published author. Since that wasn’t the case, I’m probably still doing something wrong.
My next steps are to brainstorm with other Swoon authors on how to pitch myself, become more active on social media (it’s probably time to really learn how to use Twitter!), start researching newsletters, and look into other networking opportunities, possibly at libraries or schools. As you can imagine, this will be time consuming and push me outside of my introverted comfort zone, which is why I haven’t yet tried these approaches. But, unfortunately, success in the writing world requires more than finishing a book and finding a publisher.
I’d like to keep doing this writing thing for many, many years, which means it’s time I figure out the oh-so-important marketing piece. I’ll report back if I find the elusive formula to becoming an author known around the world. Or maybe around my own state is a better short-term goal! 😊