Funny that sometimes one has to slide down the rabbit hole in order to see the light. Or in my case, jump off a cliff and grow wings on the way down. So much more hair-raising that way. I love that quote! It’s so ‘me’. And so far, I’ve still got all nine of my lives left.

The plan I need? Of course – a marketing plan. Though it’s been mentioned in articles I’ve read and in webinars I’ve attended, the truth of it didn’t sink in until I wanted to publish badly enough. Yep, I had to stand up in AA (Authors Anonymous) and admit the truth “I am an author and I want people to read – and love – my book.” Deep breath. Then I realized what I had just said. I want people to buy my book. In this maddeningly tight economy. I want lots of people to part with their money, every dollar of which is dear, to buy Sparks.

Then I went to the flip-side and asked myself, “What would I do if my choices were to sell Sparks or starve?” Imagination kicked in. I became the heroine in my own tale and the answer was clear. If the risk is all mine and the funding is all mine, then I need a detailed starve-or-deliver-the-goods marketing plan – like the ones I do all the time for software projects on which I consult. Duh…

And get this – it matters not a whit whether I will be traditionally-, independently- or self-published. I still need a marketing plan. Yes, the big publishing houses and independent presses have established distribution and marketing channels. So what’s the deal? If I want access to those channels, I have to be able to tell prospective agents and/or publishers what Sparks is about and who will want to read it. No, I don’t mean genre and what groups of readers on the reading sites – though that is a good start. I’ve got to know exactly what my story is (contemporary fiction with a side of suspense) and exactly who is going to read it (the woman in 12B who’s eating cold takeout while studying for her LSAT – well, lots of women like her and men who love women like her).

The ability to identify and connect with the right readers is crucial if one is self-publishing because there is nobody else to share the preparation and marketing costs. Even for the traditional or indie route it’s best to have a detailed marketing plan – especially for debut authors. Keep the day job, peeps. Reserve the advance for marketing.

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