Tuesday, October 21, 2008

MEET AUSTIN S. CAMACHO, THIS WEEK'S MAN OF MYSTERY AND MARKETING - and see him again This Coming Sunday & Monday!

Acme Authors Link Extends a Warm Welcome to
this week's guest, Austin Camacho, the author of four detective novels in the Hannibal Jones series -

Blood and Bone, Collateral Damage, The Troubleshooter, and Damaged Goods, plus two action thrillers, The Payback Assignment and The Orion Assignment. Active in several writers’ organizations, Camacho is a past president of the Maryland Writers Association, and teaches writing at Anne Arundel Community College. After a career as a military news reporter on the American Forces Network, Camacho is now a public affairs specialist for the Defense Department.

Austin has sold thousands of his novels as a Print-On-Demand author, a self published author, and as a writer published by a small press. He also wants you to succeed as an author, and he shares everything he has learned in a decade of self-promotion in his new book, “Successfully Marketing Your Novel in the 21st Century.”



And now...Some words from Austin About Marketing....

Basic Principles for Book Marketing

My latest book, “Successfully Marketing Your Novel in the 21st Century” is filled with the specific details of what has worked or not worked for me since I first published a Print on Demand mystery in 1999. I’d love to share it all with you here, but that would take me 240 pages. So instead, I decided to share three basic principles I use to guide my marketing decisions.


Step one: decide what tools and techniques you’ll use for promotion and write a marketing plan. Map out the timing of your marketing strategy. Study what the big publishers do. For example, why do they say the release date is in November when they have books to sell in June? It’s because reviewers want the Advance Readers Copies that far in advance. If your book looks like an ARC and they get it that far out, reviewers might mistake it for a big publisher’s book and review it. That’s how my Collateral Damage ended up in Library Journal. My book contains a sample marketing plan to help get you started.


First, your book needs to look like the others in your genre. Big publishers ensure this as a matter of course, and small presses usually do pretty well too. Their experienced book designers, artists and marketing teams create the standard look and feel. But if you’re self-published or a POD author, it’s up to you.

Why must your book look, feel, and smell like everyone else’s? Because readers decide to buy based on a large number of subconscious signals a book sends them. They’ve been trained by publishers to expect certain things. They’ve also been conditioned by those same publishers to believe that any book worth reading will be published by them. We know that’s not true, of course, but a book that says “self-published” to the consumer also says “amateur.” The same applies to booksellers. Your focus should be to make your book look as professional as possible, from the layout of the words inside to the cover art you choose.

And of course the author needs to look, sound, and act like a professional writer too, but that should not be camouflage. That’s what you are, right? So solicit blurbs and reviews the way the pros do. Approach speaking and signing engagements like the pros do. For example, I don’t think James Patterson makes those calls for himself, so I don’t either.

Evidence-based Marketing

Put simply – Don’t spend money on any marketing technique unless someone can show you proof that somebody has made money doing it. There are a lot of predators out there hawking radio interviews, blog tours, web site advertising, and who knows what else. But unless you can speak to a satisfied customer don’t plunk down your dollars. Besides, there isn’t much some publicist can do for you that you can’t do yourself.

Book trailers are the hot new thing, but I don’t know anyone who has told me they saw a spike in sales when they put on out on the internet. I won’t pay to have one produced until I do. However I was able to barter some writing work and exposure to get a tech-savvy friend to video tape me introducing one of my books. Then I posted it on about 30 web sites - for free. If you e-mail me thru my web site - http://www.ascamacho.com/ - I’ll send you the list.

Those basic concepts will take you a long way in marketing your fiction. If you have specific questions, about book signings, readings, internet marketing or anything else, leave me a comment and I’ll be happy to respond to them in a later blog.
Thanks, Austin.


Morgan Mandel said...

Hi Austin,
Welcome to Acme Authors Link.
I hope you have a great time hanging out here.

I'll start with a question. What single marketing action has sold the most books for you?

Morgan Mandel

Austin S. Camacho said...

thanks for the warm welcome, Morgan! Of everything I've done in to market my novels, nothing has shown more results than book signings. At readings they listen politely and leave, but if I just stand at an event and greet people one on one, people take books - that day and for days afterward in that bookstore.

Of course, you have to do the prep and setup work so people will know you're going to be there.

Unknown said...

How was Bouchercon?

What role do conferences play in marketing?
(A) writer trying to "break through" (get published)?
(B) promoting books that are published?

How can a writer get their name to "stick" in readers' mind?

How can a writer get readers to provide word of mouth? Sure, they like my book, but did they think to tell their friends?

Austin S. Camacho said...

Hi, Newt! Bouchercon was the best time! For now I'll just say that aside from fun, conferences are an important part of my marketing plan. I promise to give a more detailed response to all your questions Monday when I return. Watch this space!

Anonymous said...

Great post Morgan, thanks for this opportunity to learn from a pro like Austin. Also savvy to get Q's now and have everybody come back monday for the answers, you sly gal you (smile).

Ahm, Austin - what are some good ways to cost-effectively get yourself "branded" You know, that bigger than life image as THE GUY or gal when it comes to such and such, which you just happen to be an author on the topic?

Marvin blogs at Free Spirit: http://inspiritandtruths.blogspot.com/
Eye Twitter 2 - http://twitter.com/Paize_Fiddler

Unknown said...

Nice article Austin. I think I'll wrap you up and put you in my back pocket.

Austin S. Camacho said...

Marvin, I promise I WILL attack the branding issue Monday. It's a biggie.

Oh, and Ernie... I HOPE you'll be slipping my "Successfully Marketing..." book into your back pocket. ;-)

Debra St. John said...

Hi Austin. Thanks for all of the marketing advice. I am a newbie to the published author business, and I appreciate any and all advice in regards to marketing. Thanks for visiting with us today at Acme.

Anonymous said...

Austin, what you say as far as marketing goes, makes sense. However, I have found that book trailers do help sales. I make my own and I don't rely on just one. I update regularly so that the subject is fresh. There are new potential readers online each day, so I aim to get their attention as well as those who have viewed the older trailers. It all helps.

Helen Ginger said...

Thanks Morgan for hosting Austin. And thanks Austin for being willing to answer questions.

I understand what you mean about self-published books needing to look as if they'd been pubbed by a big house. I review books and also host authors on my blog. I can usually tell right away if a book sent to me is self-published. That's okay by me. I'm still going to read it.

But I can see how a bookseller or professional reviewer might set it aside due to a prejudice against self-pubbed books.

Margaret Tanner said...

Hi Austin,
Greetings from Australia. Very interesting article. Great tips too.


L.J. Sellers said...

Thanks for a great post. I'm curious: Have you ever spent money on a publicist and was it worthwhile?

Austin S. Camacho said...

Thank you ALL for the comments! Brian, you are a perfect example of evidence-based marketing. As long as you have proof that the trailers sell books for you, don't stop. Some time we'll have to discuss details because you're the only one I know who is "refreshing" the trailers... cool idea.

Morgan - that book camouflage isn't for readers (who don't care) but for bookSELLERS (who do.)

L.J. - I HAVE spent $$ on a publicist, but how you do it matters, and I WILL explain that in detail Monday (that could be a looong post!)

Morgan Mandel said...

Looks like Austin has his work cut out for him on Monday.
Hey, pile it on. If anyone else has a question, give it to him. That's what he's here for.
Morgan Mandel

Jeff Sherratt said...

Thanks for the great post, Austin. I've been watching your book sales skyrocket. Must be using a few of your own tricks.

Jeff Sherratt

Margot Justes said...

Hi Austin,
Welcome to ACME.
Great post-info on publicists would be welcome.
Margot Justes
A Hotel in Paris

L. Diane Wolfe said...

Austin knows his stuff!

Deb Larson said...

Hi Austin!
Thanks so much for being with us. Your advice
is right on target. Thanks for sharing.
DL Larson

Norm Cowie said...

Hey, dude,
I just wanted to be the 19th comment.
This might be some kind of AcmeAuthor's record.
Way to stir the pot.