Monday, May 2, 2011

Day 18 I Have to Say It: Marketing Begins With YOU

When I first considered making the jump from non-fiction to fiction, I read many books about publishing novels. Before joining this crazy whirly-gig of fun, I wanted to know the inside scoop on the industry. The dark skeletons kept in the closet. Here is a piece of advice I read from a book written in the early 90s about publishing that stuck with me:

Be prepared for a face-to-face before a publisher will sign off on a book. They are looking to see how marketable you are.

Harsh, right? But true. Marketing begins with us. My genre, women's fiction/chick-lit/romance is written by some very beautiful women. And some not. Some who have a head shot that looks like they just rolled out of bed in the morning and grabbed the nearest T-shirt. Their hair is a rat's nest. Makeup? Ha. 

A recent discussion on G. P. Ching's blog about my pricing ideas prompted me to start checking my genre. Turns out, I can price a little higher because the indie women's fiction author population is about 12 (okay, I'm exaggerating, but seriously, put women's fiction in the Kindle Store search). I will be competing with $7.99 and up traditionally published books. This is very different from the thriller, YA, fantasy genres that are up to their necks in indie authors. I was scoping out my competition when I realized besides price, the author photo was another dead give away that someone was an indie/self-published author instead of a publisher backed author. The traditionally published authors have gorgeous, professional photographs in their author bios. The indie authors? Mostly casual photos that look like they were taken in the backyard at a random time. 

Now, back to to the regularly scheduled programming. I spotted G.P. on Twitter after following another author, Megg Jensen. I will be absolutely honest and this isn't meant in a sexual/lesbian kind of way. I clicked to learn more about her because her photo was attractive. I liked her hair style and the jewelry and attire made me wonder what kind of books she writes. She isn't in my genre, but I kinda guessed that based on the cross around her neck. This doesn't mean everyone needs to look runway ready with a teeny-tiny waist and perfectly veneered teeth. I will never fit that description! But, even authors who aren't a perfect size 2, and more like a 22 can have very attractive photographs. Styled hair, a touch of makeup and a fashionable top is all that is needed. Oh, and smile. Like your best friend is sitting across from you, drinking a cup of coffee and complimented your new shoes.

Here's the point: If you are going to put a picture of yourself up as an author, make sure it is an attractive one. Actually, go further. Pose for a portrait. You probably know a friend who is great at taking pictures, or hit a Sears/JC Penny/Walmart. Take lots of outfits, make lots of poses and buy the CD for $99. You spend tons of time on your book's cover, consider yourself just as important.

I am not immune to my own advice. I hate my black-and-white photo that I'm currently using as my official public photo. Guess what? That's 4 weeks after I gave birth to my soon-to-be 2-year-old. Yeah. I'm still puffy, and there's a very good reason that photo is a head shot. But not many people would guess that from the photo. And, I am working on remedying this situation. That picture will NOT be the photo on the back of my novel or anywhere my face is associated with my book. No way. I'm working on losing a few pounds over the next few weeks and my photo session is planned with the brilliant Kristen Channel.  It will be lovely. Most importantly, my picture is going to make people want to get to know me and read my books.

I may be a stay-at-home Mom writing my first novel, but I'm certainly not going to look like it.

"Disengaged" arriving Fall 2011. Johnathan Michaels, a robotics engineer, jeopardizes his engagement with his business partner when a previous one-night stand surfaces, carrying his child.

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