Posted by: Kathy Temean | May 10, 2012

Market Your Book─ Without The Book


By Steve Meltzer – Associate Publisher/ Executive Managing Editor, Dial, Dutton, & Celebra.

I have a friend who is a writer. She has a book contract but publication is a couple of years away. But when it comes out, I believe my friend’s book will be successful. My friend has marketing savvy, a successful website, and a great blog. She creates trailers based on her interests and expertise that are featured on Youtube and other web resources. Kids love her clips and regularly comment on them. My friend posts writings on Facebook and Twitter and makes sure that online friends include writers and editors. However, she is not a marketing pain, which is to say that my friend never gets in anyone’s face trying to force projects on anyone. She instead becomes a friend and colleague.

We recently had this conversation…

Me: “I believe kids will love to hear you talk since you have something interesting and valuable to share. Why don’t you get an agent and book yourself into schools? You can make some money that way.”

Friend: “I have nothing to promote, I don’t have a published book.”

Me: “Wrong. You have yourself to promote. You have a persona and all the online stuff to back you up. When you do have a book, people will say ‘oh, that’s her book.’ They will be buying a piece of your personality”

So my friend tried this and lo and behold she has a successful gig going in schools. When her book comes out she will have a ready made audience. Chances are my friend’s future books will be successful too. This is the kind of author I would want to publish– again and again.

Common sense tells us not to market a book until you actually have a book to publish. I say that is no longer true. When you are selling a book these days you have to sell yourself as well. It is up to you to do the job. Take a lesson from my friend. Try to build your celebrity first, so that when your book is published you have an audience. Publishers like people who know how to market.

If you know a great deal about the civil war, get a beard and Abe Lincoln clothes and go as Civil War Charlie, expert on the civil war. Schools love to support local characters especially when they generate excitement and learning. Have an idea for a chapter book series and can’t get a publisher to buy it? Self publish by going to a print on demand service. Then give it away to local schools and libraries and bookstores. When book # 2 comes out sell it store to store, library to library, school to school or kid to kid and once you have developed an audience, sell it to a publisher.  Start a web 2.0 Youtube soap opera based on your YA novel. There are plenty of teens out there who want to act and they would be willing to do it for free, just for the experience. Plus who better to spread the word?

Don’t moan that you can’t get a contract. Maybe all you need to do is go out and do some field work. Comics don’t take shows on TV right away. They take them to small clubs and develop their act. The same can hold true for a writer. Think creatively and try your “act” on some kids. Then you know what they will like or won’t like and at the same time you build an audience.

Web video technology and social networking are the author’s friend. There is so much you can do these days for so very little. So get out and market yourself. With any luck a contract will follow and maybe a bit more of an advance… because you just might be a celebrity. You know your writing is there, just bring the rest. That’s you! Uh-huh. You’re a star!

You can meet and talk to Steve at the New Jersey SCBWI Conference in June – . Hope to see you there.

Talk tomorrow,



  1. Wow. What awesome ideas! It’s amazing how technology has changed things.


  2. GREAT advice!!


  3. I love this kind of out-of-the-box thinking!! Brilliant!


  4. This is GOOD TO HEAR.


  5. Great common sense advise in the changing world of publication.


  6. Steve knows his stuff! He ALways has something useful to say 🙂 Can’t wait to see him 🙂


  7. This is basically what I’ve been doing with my blog, etc. Good to hear my thinking about social networking wasn’t that far off the mark. We need to embrace the tools that are available to us. Lots of other great ideas to try in here too. 🙂


  8. very interesting take on marketing! I agree with Vanessa–good to know that my blog is heading me in the right direction!


  9. Excellent, that whole concept is a game changer, thanks, Edward Smith.


  10. I must add that I wrote this article a couple of years ago, so the reference to “my space” is a little out-of-date. Change it to T3witter and you are all set to go.


    • Hey Steve,

      I need to know your dessert choice White Chocolate Mousse Cake or Seasonal Berries with a cream sauce.

      Did you see Mimi Cross’s email aboutdoing something muscial with her after dinner?

      See you soon,



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