What does carrot cake have to do with book marketing?
At a recent meeting of the Phoenix Publishing and Book Promotion Meetup, a very interesting question arose:
You keep saying that we have to start marketing long before the book is written. Fine. But what if, after months or even years of work, an author decides the book just isn’t going to happen. Wouldn’t he have wasted all that marketing effort, and even suffer for failing to keep his promise?
That is, truly, an excellent question. I answered it as best I could, off the top of my head:
From where I sit, making a public declaration is perhaps one of the best motivators in the world to take action and complete a project. Keep telling people your book is coming (a.k.a. marketing it) and those people will keep you honest and on track by asking you how it’s coming – even if that process takes longer than you might feel it should.
One of my clients began her book in December 1991 and published it this past May. Through all those years, she was supported by the friends, family members, and colleagues who continued to ask, “How’s the book coming?” They all cheered her success when she was finally able to put printed copies in their hands after years of telling them she was “still working on it.”
Yes, it’s possible the book will never come to fruition, but I’d much rather market a book that never happens than not market a book and wind up with 20 cartons of them in my garage or standing out on the street corner trying to find readers.
I asked the rest of the group for their input on the question, and most seemed to agree. One member said, “It’s like the chicken and the egg, in terms of which should come first. Both are essential. Without the book, you’ll have nothing to market. On the other hand, without the marketing, you’ll have no one to read it.“
One member then volunteered a story that I found delightfully relevant. Here it is, paraphrased.
Years ago, Lois and her husband owned a health food store that had a restaurant. They hired a chef who planned a great menu. However, they had only one item on their dessert menu: carrot cake. The problem was that the chef was having some trouble getting the carrot cake recipe just right. Cake after cake came close, but none was exactly what they were after.
All that time, they were open for business and continued to tell their customers that the carrot cake would be “coming soon.”
One day, as a new patron again asked about the carrot cake, another who knew they’d yet to serve it piped up: “They’re out right now, but the carrot cake here is delicious!”
Of course, they perfected the carrot cake and actually began serving it shortly thereafter.
That’s the kind of advance work marketing your as-yet unpublished book can do for you. So what are YOU doing to create buzz for your book, whether you’re still perfecting the recipe or you’ve been serving it up for years?
Here’s to starting your marketing while your book’s still cookin’!
We welcome and encourage your thoughtful, courteous comments below.
Check out Laura’s newest book, Practical Philanthropy: How ‘Giving Back’ Helps You, Your Business, and the World Around You. A percentage of all book sales is donated to Art4TheHomeless.org and the Society of St. Vincent de Paul.