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You are an author because you enjoy writing. You enjoy the creativity, the freedom, the solitude (within limits). If you write fiction, you may enjoy creating vivid characters and making imaginary places real. If you writing non-fiction you enjoy explaining, teaching and maybe making your opinion heard.

You are probably not an author because you enjoy selling yourself and your product.

The harsh reality is that any author who has taken the trouble to publish their book has to work hard to make it stand out from all of the other books out there. And that is the case whether you are published by a major publisher or you are an independent author. We are all salesman now.

Sure, you can hire someone to do your publicity and marketing for you (like us!), but even if you do you need to understand your book’s place in the world so that you can work effectively with your Publicist. When it comes to thinking about marketing you need to flip mental a switch in your head that turns off your ‘author brain’ and turns on you ‘marketing brain’.

So here are 5 steps for getting into marketing mode:

1) Try to let go of your personal attachment to your book. As difficult as it may seem, you need to look at it as if it was written by someone else.

2) Take a dispassionate look at your book in relation to where it fits into the book market as a whole. What categories does it fit into? You may not want your book to be pigeonholed, but everyone else will do it automatically and you need to look at your book as your potential readers will.

3) What are the advantages of your book over the competition? Is it more up-to-date or more thorough (non-fiction)? Is it scarier, funnier or better written for its audience (fiction)? What about price, the cover and the format? They can certainly matter as well when someone is deciding which book to buy.

4) What ideas can you draw from the book that the media and potential readers might be interested in? Is there a unique take on the subject, is there a related anniversary coming up? Are you uniquely placed as an author to write about the subject? Would it appeal particularly well to a certain kind of person?

5) Now you need to consider your audience for the ideas above. What magazines, newspaper sections, tv and radio programmes would be interested in those ideas? Are the people who consume that media the same people who may read your book?

You are now mentally ready to work with a publicist or to pitch your book to the media yourself. Your expectations should be realistic because you can see both where your strengths lies and where your book fits in the media as a whole.

Good luck!

Ben Cameron

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