In Your Corner : Building Anticipation Like a Pro (or maybe like Patrick Rothfuss?)

I’m not exactly what you might call a “film buff,” but I really and truly love the movies.  And some movies are more noteworthy than others, right?  Some even seem to be noteworthy before I have a chance to see them in theaters.  Case in point: last year’s Oscar nominees for Best Picture.  Whenever I sat down to marathon some streaming video on my iPad, the fifteen-minute ad breaks were the same Brooklyn trailer on repeat.  The local movie theater (and I’m talking small-town movie theater, here) had posters up for The Revenant a full year in advance, and I’m not even sure how they got ahold of those posters!  Articles on low-budget indie faves Room and Spotlight were cropping up everywhere that I get my word fix online–news engines like The New York Times and genre specific conversation forums alike.  The local public library put up a display featuring all of the books that inspired the movies (and this year, most of the Best Picture noms were based on books) long before celebrities lit up the stage in Hollywood to dole out those little gold statues.

I guess what I’m saying is: we all know what anticipation looks like.  It’s the six months (or year) before the Academy Awards.  It’s the year (or two years) before the Presidential Elections.  It’s the half-decade before Patrick Rothfuss or George R.R. Martin each release the next book in their series.  It’s the “buzz” we hear in day-to-day conversations, the flurry of visual displays going up in our public spaces, and the ticket reservations sold out long in advance.

Kingkiller chronicles patrick rothfuss reddit
[ anticipation looks like a Reddit thread about any of these examples! ]
And here’s another thing: self-publishing authors often sell themselves short on anticipation.  It’s almost as if we don’t think we deserve it, that we’ve earned the “buzz.”  Or perhaps, it’s that we’ve internalized the message being preached by many traditional publishers and their ancillary believers–the message that we indie authors are somehow “not good enough,” or that the work we produce is itself somehow “not good enough.”  Which, by the way, is complete and total garbage.  We are good enough.  Our work is good enough.  If it wasn’t, would traditional publisher’s be so eager to poach Andy Weir and Christopher Paolini and others like them out of our ranks?  No.  But there is definitely a corporate benefit to sowing a sense of self-doubt amongst self-publishing professionals.

So here’s the deal:

Building anticipation is a real, tangible, achievable goal.

And there are any number of ways that you can start to generate interest in your books before you publish!  Put together a blog which features short excerpts from the book–amongst other things, of course–and seed your existing social media accounts with excerpts from the book–author Mirtha Michelle Castro Marmol is a great example of a self-publishing author doing just that–and gather interest in a book signing event!  These are not new concepts, but we often approach them as, quite simply, items to check off of our checklists.  As work.  But if you keep in mind that the end result isn’t actually just “SELL MORE BOOKS” but rather, “Hey, this might start a conversation!  This might generate some anticipation!” then your work may end up feeling a lot more like a healthy, sustainable, enjoyable conversation with potential readers and fans.

The decisions you make now to start conversations will build your audience and customer base before your book is even published.  Kelly Schuknecht, one of my fellow writers on Self Publishing Advisor and fellow advocate at Outskirts Press, has often spoken about how we often wait until after a book is published–through Outskirts or Amazon or some other means–to start marketing.  And how this is actually far too late.  The same is true of building anticipation–which kind of makes sense, right?

anticipation clock

Anticipation relies upon the simple fact that the thing we desire is a thing presently out of reach, that is in the works or on its way.  If the thing is already here, people might be interested … but they won’t be anticipating.  So if there is one thing I can recommend to you today, it’s that you get out there and think about suspense, and desire, and anticipation as something worth building.  Think about the Oscars if it helps, or the next season of Orange is the New Black (because let’s face it, you already marathoned the entire fourth season and now you have to wait another year to find out what happens next!), or the next book in that series you really love that isn’t here yet.  That is the feeling you want readers to have about your book–and you can make that a reality!

 

You are not alone. ♣︎

ElizabethABOUT ELIZABETH JAVOR: With over 18 years of experience in sales and management, Elizabeth Javor works as the Manager of Author Services for Outskirts Press. The Author Services Department is composed of knowledgeable publishing consultants, pre-production specialists, customer service reps and book marketing specialists; together, they all focus on educating authors on the self-publishing process to help them publish the book of their dreams. Whether you are a professional looking to take your career to the next level with platform-driven non-fiction or a novelist seeking fame, fortune, and/or personal fulfillment, Elizabeth Javor can put you on the right path.

In Your Corner : Want to win big at marketing? Unleash the wisdom of “Game of Thrones”!

Oh, I bet I could get myself into a lot of hot water for this kind of headline–from fans and the show’s detractors alike–but I can’t help it!  This paradigm shift of an HBO show (based, rather loosely at times, on George R.R. Martin’s bestselling book series) changed the way we watch television … for better or worse.  It ramped up the intensity of on-screen cruelties, particularly against women but sparing no one in the end, and has sparked some of the most interesting conversations about human nature and power that I’ve ever had the pleasure of listening in on–and yes, it has spawned its own raft of political memes during the current American presidential election season.

Game of Thrones isn’t the only pop culture machine to be churning out this kind of material … but it’s the show that everyone seems to be watching.  Or have an opinion about, as it were.  (A very very strong opinion, at that.)  So why do I love it–and what could Game of Thrones possibly offer a self-publishing author in respect to marketing acumen?

It’s all about consequences.

The similarities just about end there, but that’s plenty of food for thought.  Just about every five minutes, some character of other in the Game of Thrones universe makes a decision along the lines of:

game of thrones

Cersei Lannister (above) often serves as the show’s mouthpiece for raw human instinct: strive, dominate, circle the wagons, protect family, etc etc.  But the best part about her character’s storyline, and the narrative arc of the television series as a whole, is in the nature of action and consequence.  There’s no escaping the laws of physics: what goes up must come down, that sort of thing.  It might only take fifteen minutes of screen time for these actions-and-consequences scenarios to play out … but sometimes it takes five, or six, seasons to unwind the implications and effects of a decision some character made years back … and that George R.R. Martin probably made to write into the story over a decade ago

Which is … kind of like life.

And is kind of like … marketing!

Here’s the self-publishing parallel: it’s vitally important to consider how you plan on marketing your book, even before publication.  (Actions have consequences!)  You have an opportunity prior to publication to make decisions that can either help or hurt your marketing efforts after publication … sometimes long after.  And I guarantee you don’t want to be sitting in a room somewhere (in front of a roaring fire, with perfectly styled hair, and a mug of honeyed mead or whatever they drink in Pseudomedieval England With Bonus Dragons) thinking:

game of thrones

Which isn’t to say you should constantly battle to outpace regret.  There’s no such thing as a mistake-free life, just as there’s no such thing as a healthy parent-child dynamic in the Game of Thrones universe!  But you’re not a character in a niche television drama.  You’re an author, dangnabbit!  You’re not blind to the benefits of foresight … and you’re not trapped in the midst of a story you have no control over.  Every decision you make, from start to finish, drafting to publication, will have long-term consequences.  You can predict these consequences by being the most informed, educated, and responsible author you can be.  In a world of traditional publishing, this conversation wouldn’t be possible.  But in the world of indie, hybrid, and self publishing–it is.  You are in control of your book’s long-term success!  And …

 

You are not alone. ♣︎

ElizabethABOUT ELIZABETH JAVOR: With over 18 years of experience in sales and management, Elizabeth Javor works as the Manager of Author Services for Outskirts Press. The Author Services Department is composed of knowledgeable publishing consultants, pre-production specialists, customer service reps and book marketing specialists; together, they all focus on educating authors on the self-publishing process to help them publish the book of their dreams. Whether you are a professional looking to take your career to the next level with platform-driven non-fiction or a novelist seeking fame, fortune, and/or personal fulfillment, Elizabeth Javor can put you on the right path.