Saturday, March 28, 2009

Guest Blogger Jack Kilborn - Marketing Tips

Hi everyone, I want to welcome Jack Kilborn today. He has promised to share some of his marketing strategies with you.

My name is Jack Kilborn. Currently, I'm on a blog tour, promoting my horror novel, Afraid. It's a scary one, so only check it out if you're brave enough.

I've done a lot of marketing and self-promotion under my other name, JA Konrath. Here are some cheap, or free, ways to get the word out, along with some things to avoid. As with all of my advice, this is based on my experience, so your mileage may vary.

Eight Low Cost Self-Promotion Strategies by Jack Kilborn and JA Konrath

1. Social Networks. You can use Twitter, Facebook, MySpace, Friendster, Goodreads, LibraryThing, and scores of other online gathering places, to make friends and fans. The key is to offer content in the form of information and entertainment. If you go there to sell, you'll be ignored. But if you go to share, you'll be embraced.

2. Blogging. This is still the best way to provide regularly updated content and reach a specific demographic. Make sure your blog has focus, and stick to that focus to build a readership. When you've built up your readership, I recommend going on a blog tour. I think it's a terrific way to spread the word.

3. Visit Bookstores. If they have your books, sign stock. If they don't, ask a manager if they could order a few. Talking to booksellers helps them to handsell you, meaning your books will continue to sell after the signed copies are long gone.

4. Sell Short Stories and Articles. The best way to get people to read your writing is if you get them to try your writing. Selling shorts to magazines and anthologies is a way to reach a broader audience and give them a taste; the literary equivalent of giving out free samples in supermarkets. Best of all, you get pain, not the other way around.

5. Giveaways. Contests for free swag are great. Having free short stories and novels on your website, for download, are even better.

6. Networking. The more people you meet, and trade email and links with, the better off you'll be. Like all businesses, publishing runs on nepotism. Befriending people, both in real life and on the net, just makes sense.

7. Library Visits. If you're big enough, they'll pay you. It doesn't hurt to ask. (If you're unsure of what you're worth, ask for the average they paid their last three speakers.) Getting in front of people is powerful juju--but make sure you're good at speaking in public.

8. Email Newsletters. Every time you do an appearance, collect email addys. You should also collect them on your website. Then, when your next book is coming out, you can email them all at once.

Six Things to Avoid in Self-Promotion by JA Konrath/Jack Kilborn

1. Mailings. Snail mail is expensive and ineffective, in my experience. And my experience is extensive. I once mailed letters to 7000 libraries. It did very little for my sales, but cost a fortune, and took a very long time.

2. Book Trailers. Unless you can do them really cheap, like I did, your money is better spent traveling to bookstores.

3. Bookmarks. Cheap ones get thrown away. Expensive ones aren't worth the cost, even if the person buys your book because of it, which they won't. Stick with business cards. I'd also apply this to anything else you can give away; key chains, pencils, candy, etc. If you want to give away something effective, give away chapbooks that feature the first chapter of your story. Hook them with your writing, not with a tsotchkes

4. Ads. In some niche markets, if the price is right, and ad can be helpful. But in my experience it is a waste of money 95% of the time.

5. Conferences. This is a tricky one, because I think most conferences are worth going to every so often. But if you go to the same con, year after year, you're spending a lot of time and money preaching to the converted. Better to try different conferences, rather than speak in front of the same 300 people over and over again.

6. A Publicist. If you have a non-fiction book, or a specific platform, a publicist can be helpful. If you write fiction, there isn't much a publicist can do for you that's worth your investment. You can find the radio interviews and reviews on your own, and save a bunch of money. For the record, I don't recommend paying anyone for anything in this biz, except your agent, who should only be paid when she sells your writing.

The key thing to keep in mind when doing any sort of promotion is: "Would this make me buy a book?" Don't do anything that wouldn't work on you.

Also don't blindly listen to experts, me included. It's your career. You need to find your own path. That means trying as many things as possible, to find out what works for you.

And remember to have fun, because we're certainly not doing this for the money...

Thanks Jack. Here are some sites to check out more about Jack and his work:


  1. Hi Penny,
    Thanks for hosting Joe today. This post was informative as always.
    I have to say that I'm one of the rare people who keep the bookmark. :)
    And if I see someone speak in a bookstore, even if I'm just there to shop and happen upon them unplanned, I always buy the book.
    Well, unless they're obnoxious, or the book sucks.... or there weren't cookies afterward...

  2. More good common-sense information, Joe. And on your birthday, no less! I like your blog, Penny!

  3. As always, Joe, you have self-promotion down to a science. Thanks for sharing.

    Great tour, too!

  4. Great suggestions, Joe, except I'm a little confused by #4 - the last sentence, "Best of all, you get pain, not the other way around."

    I realize you write some pretty brutal stuff, but I'm not sure I want that recommendation.

    Gayle Carline

  5. Hi everyone, thanks for stopping by and commenting. This was a great post by Joe and it was a pleasure having him.

  6. Great... Thanks for those wonderful tips...
    Online Marketing is incredibly affordable, especially when you consider how many potential customers a business owner can reach with an marketing campaign. If you do some research you can find lots of proven internet marketing tips online to help you.

  7. Jo and Harry, thanks for stopping by. I'm glad you found the information useful.

  8. I recently came accross your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I dont know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.


  9. Hi Sara, Thanks for stopping by. I'm glad you're enjoying the blog and have found some useful information.