Marketing To The Max

Originally Published: Sep. 9, 2010

by Janis Seminara

Susanna Reich, author and publicist, and Melanie Hope Greenberg, author and illustrator, are hands on, serious self-marketers, not afraid to contact whomever they need to get their books noticed. In their June 8th talk, they offered examples, tips, and advice on how to “market to the max.”

In today’s depressed economy, both feel that writers and illustrators need to market themselves more than ever. Reich has seen first hand a “publishing market that has been hard hit” in her work as a publicist at Raab Associates, Inc. She generously shared what this job has taught her about the world of public relations, illustrating the marketing lessons with incidents from her various careers which in addition to writer and publicist includes modern dancer and florist.

Author and illustrator, Greenberg, presented a slide show full of humorous, yet valuable information on how to market via digital and media venues. She illustrated the importance of connecting to booksellers, book buyers and book readers through e-mail, websites, blogs, and online communities like Facebook.

In addition to writing, illustrating, updating their blogs, and maintaining their web pages, Reich and Greenberg touched on ways they market themselves in other venues including book signings, launch parties, and book trailers. Greenberg recommended having activities for kids incorporated into the book signings to help attract more attention which in turn will create more publicity.

Reich brought along the press kit she had created for her latest book, Painting the Wild Frontier: The Art and Adventures of George Catlin, and detailed how she put it all together.

Greenberg also described how she gathers marketing information by picking up “anything that is free.” Scanning each periodical, she looks for courses she might teach, takes note of information regarding websites that could be useful, and creates detailed index card of pertinent information on marketing. She has had to make space for her many file boxes full of index cards. Emphasizing that “she does have an office,” Greenberg said that all writers and illustrators need a specific space for the job of self promoter / marketer.

In addition to allocating space, writers and illustrators should consider allocating specific time to marketing. Reich suggests setting aside about 20% of every week to work on marketing. She stated that “this is part of my job” even though she “would rather be working on books.” “Marketing takes almost all my life these days,” Greenberg said, “but fame aside, I think most of us would agree that our real purpose is to get our books into a child’s hand.” And that makes all those hours of marketing to the max worthwhile.

Janis Seminara is a tutor specializing in finding ways to help young writers discover their writing processes in accordance with their potential. In her children’s books, her characters speak of finding and expressing voice. Currently she is working on a fable, The Seedsower. Her published work is a chapter in an educational textbook and various ‘cyber’ articles.

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