Book Proposal – Part Four “Marketing”

4 Jan
A false start is a learning experience, not a failure

A false start is a learning experience, not a failure

So there I was, an aspiring writer with a mission. What to do about the marketing part of my book proposal? Little did I know that the publishing industry was on the cusp or perhaps throes of profound structural change. I knew little about social networking other than Facebook existed. I thought that a website was just an electronic bulletin board.

I recall having found an example book proposal on the internet, so what I wrote was my best attempt at personalizing this, with a view to making it appealing to a traditional publisher. It’s a bit of a historical anachronism, in that it clearly doesn’t reflect an understanding of e-marketing, ebooks, social networking, and the direction in which publishing was going.

Without further adieu, here is what I wrote:

* * * * *

Marketing / Promotion / Platform

The author is experienced and comfortable with public speaking, interviews, making presentations, and even hours of rigorous cross examination. He assesses marketing as an essential component of the book’s success, and approaches the marketing of the book as a military information campaign; i.e. a coherent series of actions coordinated with synergistic intent to maximize the commercial success of ONE.

The legal prohibition on disclosing the author’s true identity (due to the child protection dimension) is a factor. The author views this as a challenge, and plans to use it to the book’s advantage by exploiting it to create an air of mystery about the book.

As with the discordant notes of Monk’s piano, the genius will be in knowing which notes not to play as much as it will be in knowing which notes to play.

To ensure ONE achieves the critical mass to become a phenomenon, the author will exploit Gladwell’s “The Law of the Few” from THE TIPPING POINT. In conjunction with publisher and agent, the author intends to identify (and target) Mavens, Connectors and Salesmen in the pre-release phase.

The author will establish a pre-release website and utilize other internet methods to methodically build growth in pre-release interest.

Once the website is available to the public, the author will issue press releases to major magazines as part of pre-release marketing. The author foresees potential interviews with periodicals where the events behind the book are discussed, but the discoveries made due to them are mysteriously withheld or only vaguely alluded to so as to build anticipation for the book’s release. The author expects full periodical interviews after release.

The author is also willing to entertain any other marketing initiatives, bearing in mind the constraint on revealing his identity. In wanting to reach as broad an audience as possible, the author sees a Venn diagram of near perfect alignment of his aspirations and the commercial interests of the publisher.

It is the author’s intent to utilize a professional editor and to dedicate the advance and revenues towards promotional activities in support of book sales. He anticipates a commensurate commitment to commercial success on the part of the publisher. The author will define success by sales volume and not his personal net income.

* * * * *

Some of this is correct. I did employ a professional editor. However, I found my fellow bloggers to have been at least as good if not better at finding typos, errors, and making constructive criticisms. I will be doing the press release thing before release, and drafts this as part of my package. And I still want to maximize the number of sales v. profits, as I want to achieve the maximum social impact.

In terms of Gladwell’s “Law of the Few” and “Mavens, Connectors and Salesmen”, I suspect this is beginning to happen naturally via the wonderful contacts that I have made through blogging.

What I couldn’t have anticipated was the incredible value of the wonderful blogging relationships that I have established. In a sense, the correct way to market a book by blogging is by not blog flogging your book. It’s by blogging to build sincere relationships as opposed to shallow marketing and exploitation.

At least, that’s been my experience, and I’m having a hell of a lot of fun with blogging, even though it takes up a killer amount of time.

While I’ve come a long way since this naive first attempt at a rudimentary marketing plan, I still have a long way to go. I continue to learn along the way. I think the lesson here for aspiring authors is the importance of planning and of learning at least the basics of self-marketing.

If you can establish a basis of sales to demonstrate that you’re a credible writer with successful books and a real following, you’re far more likely to attract the attention of a mainstream publisher.

And, if you’re both an excellent writer and marketer, you just might discover that you don’t even need a mainstream publisher after all.

19 Responses to “Book Proposal – Part Four “Marketing””

  1. Carol Balawyder January 4, 2014 at 1:14 pm #

    Very informative post. Like you, I too enjoy blogging but it does take time away from the actual writing. I like what you said about fellow bloggers as being also good editors. Did you actually e-mail them your manuscript?

    • navigator1965 January 4, 2014 at 1:33 pm #


      Those bloggers whom I thought would be interested I offered to send them the manuscript: a)in confidence; and b) with no strings attached. I did this first with friends and colleagues whom I knew would be interested, and got enough positive feedback that I became confident enough with my fellow bloggers to make the offer.

      I was careful to include that I had zero ego investment, so that if they didn’t like it, had criticisms, or stopped reading, that would be okay. I also told them that I wasn’t looking for free proof reading or anything at all. If they wanted to do that, bonus, but in no way required. High level feedback, positive and especially negative, was appreciated but also not required. 100% no strings.

      It’s really paid off. I did have many small errors caught, some valid criticisms, and things to think about in terms of improvements or making it appeal to certain groups. I’ve even had a few people contact me to see if they could have a copy (.pdf) of the manuscript to read.

      The greatest benefits have been:

      – strengthening relationships with blogging friends;
      – improving / perfecting an important manuscript;
      – steadily increasing my confidence that my non-fiction book can hold its own with anything on the NY Times best seller list (I don’t think this is an exaggeration. It certainly isn’t hubris, as I find the possibility to be somewhat disconcerting.);
      – building invaluable support for the book launch; and
      – having feedback that informs me that my book has made an impact in test readers’ lives to at least some extent.

      Don’t know if it was Karma, Divine decree, Fate, or dumb luck, but I am happy that the regular publisher didn’t accept my proposal. Far more enjoyable and satisfying going the grass roots path, albeit one with much more effort on my part. It’s the only way to build a meaningful social movement (counter-movement, in this case).

      • Carol Balawyder January 4, 2014 at 3:11 pm #

        Thank you for this very comprehensive response. There’s lots of buzz around about beta readers. It’s very difficult for me to find them among my friends and colleagues as I was working in a French milieu and my writing, obviously, is in English.
        I find to ask family members almost a waste of time, except maybe to pick out grammatical or spelling errors. I don’t get an unbiased critique. Even friends can hesitate to give you feedback that is valuable because they don’t want to hurt your feelings.

        I might just try your method of contacting some fellow bloggers who might be interested in what I write.

        Look forward to seeing your book on the NY Times Bestseller list.

      • navigator1965 January 4, 2014 at 3:32 pm #

        Thank you. Not holding my breath, obviously! Still, it doesn’t hurt to challenge one’s self on occasion.

  2. bethbyrnes January 4, 2014 at 4:34 pm #

    If I were to publish a first book, it would be in pdf form and available on a website as well as through Amazon. I think short is the key and frankly, I would not use an editor. I have found that re-reading my own writing after it has been set aside, is enough to find the flaws. It might take an extra year, but would be worth it. I want my writing to be mine, not the reinterpretation of anyone else and I would want no one else taking sharing blame or credit.

    Having said that, I would do this merely for the satisfaction of producing work that I wanted to put out into the world, not from which to make money, unless that happens spontaneously. In the latter case, who would object? But the process would have to be enjoyable, at my own pace and on my terms, and the formal publishing process, with all its obligations and the enormous fees that must be paid to the publisher are a deal breaker, to my way of thinking.

    Just my two centimes worth…

    • navigator1965 January 4, 2014 at 11:03 pm #

      Hi Beth,

      Thanks for the great contribution. Interestingly, I rejected most of the editor’s recommendations other than the typos and minor errors he caught. Virtually very other recommendation that he recommended, I rejected. He understood the technical aspects of writing, but not the art of written story telling.

      Even with the constructive criticism of the test/beta readers, I still considered the criticism and made the changes myself. Thus, I have the satisfaction that you mention of the manuscript being my child, if you will. More importantly, having had the good fortune to have a relatively large set of test readers—probably on the order of a dozen—, I have the satisfaction that the manuscript is as good as I could have possibly made it.

      It is nice being free from the overbite and formal obligations of a traditional publisher. Self publishing does bring an extra burden in terms of marketing, but the social media savvy writer can succeed in this. I have enjoyed the process, come to think of it. I will argue that a longer book may be preferable to readers if its narrative is entertaining or gripping in some way.

      Your two cents’ worth is always welcome. Thanks for stopping by.

  3. Lee-Anne January 4, 2014 at 9:15 pm #

    Am in a rush but will peruse this at my leisure 🙂 looks very interesting!

    • navigator1965 January 5, 2014 at 1:03 pm #

      WordPress lost my original response. Thanks for commenting, Lee-Anne. Take all the time in the world.

  4. LindaGHill January 4, 2014 at 10:39 pm #

    I do believe your book is going to sell via word-of-mouth. You’ve seen proof of that here and know it’s not just me saying it. But that can’t be said of most books, particularly fiction. You have written a one of a kind manuscript, from what I can see. Can your experience possibly be the same as anyone else’s? It all remains to be seen, I suppose.

    Have you signed up for Facebook and Twitter yet? Will you?

    • navigator1965 January 4, 2014 at 11:13 pm #

      Thank you, Linda. Haven’t established M.M. McConaughey on Facebook or Twitter yet. Would rather just keep with blogging, if I could. Goodreads too, I suppose.

      I do think that you’re right about the book having self-marketing potential. Maybe that’s wishful thinking, but it does resonate with readers, and there’s no lack of scandal, as you are well aware.

      We’ll find out in a month or two.

  5. idiotwriter January 5, 2014 at 6:06 am #

    This post really shows up your professionalism Nav. I like it – it makes me proud in a weird way? 😀

    • navigator1965 January 5, 2014 at 10:01 am #

      Thank you, Belinda. The professionalism comes from 30 years of military education, training, and experience. I do have a little advantage here over the average aspiring writer, in that I have had a wide variety of challenges thrown my way by my job, which typically changed every three or four years.

      What you should really be proud of (in the feel good sense, and not the hubris sense, obviously) is how well you’ve done with your blogging and poetry and art. I would have to say that I am a proud of you for this, so it is mutual, I suppose.

      • idiotwriter January 5, 2014 at 11:14 am #

        Thank you – bless you – BUT it is intrinsic that when we meet and know good people, and they do well and good – that it gives us some sense of that same feeling that ‘doing well ourselves’ gives…sort of – hard to explain right! Maybe that is a bot matriarchal though? It is NOT – it really is not – it is a natural human trait to feel happy and pleased for others and their accomplishments (even if THOSE folk- don’t think their accomplishments are that great!) 😉 So take it from where it comes dear.

  6. waitingforprincecharming January 5, 2014 at 12:48 pm #

    Educational.. I may pick your brain at a later date 🙂

  7. Susan Lattwein January 6, 2014 at 5:26 am #

    I know what you mean about the manuscript being like your child. But I was never one of those mothers who pushed their offspring into child modelling agencies (ie marketing). It’s not easy blowing your own trumpet.
    I think your experience in the novel will resonate with people, for many the concept of narcissism may not yet have crystallised. Narcissism is around, I’m afraid.
    I wish you all the best.

    • navigator1965 January 6, 2014 at 6:17 am #

      Thanks, Susan. Yes, I don’t like horn blowing either. I think this is why test readers are so valuable. If you write a good book, they’ll say it for you.

      I do hope the book resonates. Feedback to date suggests that or does.


  1. Book Proposal – Part Nine “Sample Chapter” | The Mirror - January 19, 2014

    […] Part Four – Marketing / Promotion / Platform […]

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