Arlock writes (personal). An outlet for Glossolalia

How to market your Masterpiece

There have been some good marketing strategies over the years. De Beers’ diamonds campaign has got to be king, if only because it led to the worldwide consumption of something that has no intrinsic value, but people are willing to pay the world for.

So what makes a good marketing strategy. Well, there are many schools of thought, and a lot of them are happy to sell you their unique 7 step program or downloadable .pdf for $199. I, however, subscribe to a few very simple rules.


If you build it they will come

If you want people to know about your speculative fiction masterpiece, collection of poems, or graphic novel, you need to let people know it exists. That’s where building your platform comes in. we are told that in the golden age of publishing, this was done for the author by the ink-stained-angels at the publishing house. They would trumpet your greatness from the rooftops and arrange the delivery of peeled grapes for you at your book signings. Well.. that might have been true for a few cash-cows, but these days you have to compete for those grapes for every other hungry author, and it’s strictly BYO on the trumpets. So get online, join various writers communities, reserve your name on twitter, google, facebook, and whatever seems trendy at the time, even if you’re not going to use it immediately. Stake your claim and defend it vigorously.

Sniff Test

sniff testMarketing is 1 part exposure, 2 parts content, and 1 part spam. There is no magic model (damn, I could have charged 3 handy installments of $39.95 to tell you that… severely padded out and with lots of jargon and some graphs of course. Guess I suck at marketing). So Sniff test, if it smells like BS, it probably is. Look to your own inbox, your own reading material, your own town. What gets your attention? Work out what it is and do that. At the same time work out which sites send you so much spam that you wish there was a ‘return to sender’ button that came with an automatic attach malware option. What ads annoy you, what campaigns feel like they’re insulting your intelligence… take note of what they do, and don’t do it. In this business, you constantly have people telling you to target your material to your market, yet the fail to mention that you ARE your ideal reader. Your audience tends to be people who share your tastes and interests, so if something feels like BS to you, it will probably feel like BS to them. Unless of course you know your product is BS, and you’re okay with that… and are happy to work with a good PR machine.

Made in America (… or wherever you’re proud to be from)

Unless you know you’re failing the Sniff Test, have a product you believe in. It doesn’t have to be perfect, and it’ll probably be better if you don’t try to make it perfect, but you have to respect it. Is your prose solid, your copy-edit professional level, your cover something that makes you smile? If you believe in your product, others will too. Additionally, all those darlings you should have murdered while writing it, they can be recycled to show off your clever use of language. The fat you trim from your story to streamline it for the reader who has just discovered you can be polished and expanded upon to feed the returning fans hungry for more details. That clunky exposition can be saved and blogged to bring joy to your legions, LEGIONS I TELL YOU, of die-hard fans.

Batteries not Included

Free extras are great. Serialized stories can be great. Leaving out chunks of stuff in the hope people will pay for them later is not. This is not video-game development, and even then you don’t make friends with DLC (Gaming term for Downloadable Content you buy AFTER you buy the game). The same goes for selling things you haven’t written yet. Coming soon, is no substitute for a known release date. Sure you can release content as you write it, but don’t charge. Sell your finished product, anything before that should only be used for exposure. That’s not to say you can’t pre-sell, but when you deliver it needs to be a finished product or you risk alienating your readers/fans.


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