The comments today were amazing! You all are really gelling into a terrific community.
I’ll tackle just one of the many questions that came up:
Is it worthwhile marketing a first novel in advance if the chances of a first novel being published is really low?
There are two parts to my response:
1) You are not really marketing your novel in advance, so much as you are marketing yourself. That is what branding is all about–teaching your readers to make the decision in advance that any book you write is a book they’re going to buy. Several of you mentioned Ken Follett and his book THE PILLARS OF THE EARTH. Not many people bought that book because of their burning interest in medieval cathedrals. People bought that book because they knew Follett could deliver a great historical novel with lots of suspense (and the usual level of “steam”).
Along these lines, I thought Carol has chosen a brilliant marketing strategy–speaking in schools. This is how one of my friends, Bryan Davis, has done phenomenally well with his “Dragons in Our Midst” series. This series had everything going against it: A Christian fantasy published by a nonfiction publisher. But Bryan is an accomplished speaker and he goes to schools and speaks and gets kids fired up and sells a ton of books.
2) By marketing yourself, you raise your chances of selling your first novel enormously. And if you don’t sell your first, then you are still raising the chances of selling your second. It costs tremendous amounts of money to publish a book. Think $50000 to publish a novel. For a children’s picture book, it costs even more (all that art work has to be paid for). Publishers don’t want to risk that much money on a loser, when they could just as well risk it on someone who shows an interest and a talent for marketing.
Let’s talk more about branding, because I can see there are some misconceptions about that. Ask me your most pressing question about branding. I’ll answer the best ones tomorrow.
If I can’t answer you, I’ll ask Allison Bottke. She knows more than I do, and she’s helping me get my own brand focused.