This is part three in my interview series with Jaguar Bennett, Publicity and Marketing Director with Linden Publishing.
Jaguar: Things have changed these days. You should be promoting your book even before you write it. The kind of model people are working from now, is that writing a book is kind of a bottom up process.
Obviously this varies from book to book. This is an idealized model. This is how a lot of successful books are made these days. The book comes out of a blog, or a preexisting community. To take, for example, let's suppose you are a hobbyist who has a deep interest in collectible buttons. You have a blog about buttons, you have a Facebook group about buttons. You are communicating with other button enthusiasts across the world. This is what gives you material to create the definitive book on button collecting.
It is all the work you have done before, by communicating with other enthusiasts, with developing your information, that has built you up as an authority on the subject. This is what gives you a name. This is what gives you a platform. This is what sells your book to publishers before you've even written it. The fact that you do have this platform from which to work.
No book comes out of a vacuum. You are influenced by your own interests, your hobbies, and people who you share these interests with. Nearly every writer is already embedded in a community, and you should start building up that community, even before you start the actual book project. Once you have that structure in place, it makes it so much easier to promote your book and get it in front of the public that is interested.
The older way is that the author was sort of cut out of the whole process. You know, you write a book in splendid isolation, you sell it to a publisher strictly as a private matter. Then, the publisher takes upon the work of presenting this book to the public. That worked in the old mass media days, because there was one public and there was a general audience and there were fewer books published.
Now, there are so many books that are aimed at so many niche audiences you have to go through channels that you built toward those niche audiences in order to reach them. It is kind of a paradox, but actually these days the more narrowly designed a book is the closer it is going to reach its target.
Anyone these days can write a novel and present it to the public. In fact, millions of people do. You get lost in that. Now if, on the other hand, you have a specific interest in science fiction about time travel and have written...to be totally silly about it...time travel stories written in the Klingon language. Suddenly you are working in a much narrower audience and, where as that great general novel aimed at the general public might never find its audience because it is kind of lost in the sea, your time travel novel written in Klingon is going to target an audience immediately. Who knows how large that audience is, but everybody who is in the demographic will be interested in it, and in terms of promotion, that first aspect you have to look at today is to find that kind of audience for your book.
If you write a blog on a niche topic that you want to write a book about and you can't find a big audience. Is that enough of a test to tell you to switch to a different niche?
Jaguar: It might be. It's certainly a judgment call. If you find the market for time travel books in Klingon was not as great as you had thought, or if you are writing the definitive book on Triumph motorcycles and you find that you are not getting the response that you like. Let's suppose your blog is about Triumphs, and you find that people who are responding to your blog have a lot more thoughts about Indian motorcycles or Harley-Davidson's or something else that is related to your field but with a slightly different tangent. That is the virtue of starting out a book this way.
You have a chance to communicate in a social media way with your potential readers, and if your potential readers are telling you, this is actually what we are interested in, not Triumphs by Harleys, then I think you have a significant clue as to where you can find that market and I think you might naturally find yourself talking more to this audience.