Sunday, November 23, 2008

Marketing my book online... before the book is finished?

In case you are not sure from my title, I have not completed even the first draft of my novel. And yet I brazenly state that I should be marketing now. Am I completely insane? Possibly, but I will explain why I think that regardless of where you are in the writing process, your marketing should already be in the works.

There are many facets to marketing: advertising (print/TV/online), interviews, podcasts, blogs, book signings, etc. I only know a little about marketing because I am unpublished, but I am convinced that the earlier you begin one portion of marketing, the better off you will be. What is this portion?

Your online presence!

You don't need a published book or even published articles to begin establishing an online presence. You just need some time and the will to explore your options. Here are a few of the areas that I am exploring during my writing process.

1) Buy your domain name. In today's world, this is a no-brainer because it is cheap and expected. Most importantly, it takes time for your domain name to be crawled by all the search engines, linked to by other websites, blogged about, etc. This time translates into quick and easy search results when you do get published and someone is Googling your name. Which leads to point number two.

2) Choose your author name wisely. May sound silly, but in my opinion, this is a big one. I go by Hugh but I choose to use J Hugh Thomas as my author name in part because the domain name was available. In addition, when I Google Hugh Thomas, I get many results for a history writer named Hugh Thomas. To prove my point, Google the name "j hugh thomas" and you will see my website and this blog right at the top. That is what you want... to be easily found if someone is looking. Not to mention, many people will start by typing in the URL of the person's name before they even Google. Every advantage counts.

3) Write a blog. Since they are free to run, this is another given. What do you blog about? I'll answer with the question, what are you interested in? What is important is that you are writing regularly in a communicative way, not in fiction style, and you are establishing more of a web presence with every post. Don't forget to link back to your domain name in every post which also helps boost the ranking of your primary site. Have many interests? Write several blogs. But make sure you can post at least once a week. If you post less than that, you will loose any loyal readers. I recommend because it is what I use, but I'm sure the other free services are just as good.

4) Feedburn your blogs. If you don't know what this is, go to and read all about it. Bottom line is you have a distribution option for people to subscribe by email or RSS feed to your blog, you can track your subscribers, see when your blog is web crawled, tell the service to notify the search engines every time you post a new entry, etc. It is a free marketing and management plug-in to your blog, and all it costs is your time to set it up.

5) Social Networking. If you don't already have them, setup Facebook and MySpace accounts at a bare minimum. Once again, you will link between your blog/domain/facebook/myspace which helps your web presence. More importantly, you can join writers groups for support and reading groups for future marketing opportunities. The more friends you add over time, the more people you can directly market to once you are finished with your book. One important note here. DO NOT OVER MARKET TO YOUR FRIENDS OR GROUPS!!! This is a big no-no and you will be shunned if you take advantage. However, an email/message blast when your book is launched is perfectly acceptable. You would also be surprised how many professionals are lurking in these groups... agents, marketers, editors... so you may end up with a great support network to boot.

That's enough to start with, but it is just the tip of the ice burg. Don't get overwhelmed by it all. Just do something now so you aren't rushing to appear online after your book is on the shelves.

Writing Excuses is a fun podcast that is entertaining and informative on the writing process. It holds to a short 15 minute format which is perfect on the go. You'll find yourself laughing and learning in the process.

Here's an article on How to get your first novel published by Jackie French. Since she is a published author many times over, better to follow her advice than mine.

Oh, and I forgot my weekly writing update last time. Over the last two weeks, I have finished another three scenes for the screenplay. The story is coming along nicely and I think I have reached the half-way mark. I believe that by the end of the year this will be done and I will be back full-time on the novel.

Until next time, lets keep on writing.


Susan Kendrick said...

Hi J. Hugh,

Great post for anyone working on a book--or getting ready to. We work with authors and experts on starting even their book covers while they're still writing their books, for the same reasons you mention. Our blog may be useful to you and your readers. Take a look at This week, I've run a 5-part series specifically on your book's back cover copy, and why to write even that while you are still writing your book (Reason #5 gets posted tomorrow). Yes, early visibility and credibility are what any author wants for his or her book. Good luck and take care!
Susan Kendrick
Write To Your Market, Inc.

Anthony James Barnett - author said...

You're doing it correctly. I wish I'd done the same.

I only started blogging and making my presence felt AFTER my novel was published. It's now a game of catch-up.

Joyce said...


I couldn't believe it when I was trying to Blog Search my own site (don't ask!) and found yours. After writing a Blog soap opera twice weekly for eight months this year I am now having a bash at writing a novel. The soap had a small but devoted group of readers and it gave me the chance to let my imagination run riot - it was great fun to write but now I want to stretch myself and write a 'proper' book. Like you I am using a blog to chart my progress but unlike you I am trying to publish the story on the blog as I go along, paragraph by paragraph, warts and all. It is probably a really mad idea but what the hell you only live once.

Good luck with your book and I'm looking forward to following your journey.