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Bake Marketing Into Your Writing Process: Publishing For Profit With Orna Ross And Anna Featherstone

Bake Marketing Into Your Writing Process: Publishing for Profit with Orna Ross and Anna Featherstone

Today on the Publishing for Profit Podcast, ALLi Director Orna Ross and author Anna Featherstone discuss how to bake marketing in with your writing process. This proactive approach is about more than just organic development; it's a strategic method of laying the groundwork early on. By integrating marketing elements into your manuscript from the start, you create a seamless transition from pen to promotion.

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On the Publishing for Profit podcast, ALLi Director Orna Ross and author Anna Featherstone discuss how to bake marketing into your writing process. Click To Tweet

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About the Hosts

Orna Ross launched the Alliance of Independent Authors at the London Book Fair in 2012. Her work for ALLi has seen her named as one of The Bookseller’s “100 top people in publishing”. She also publishes poetry, fiction, and nonfiction and is greatly excited by the democratizing, empowering potential of author-publishing. For more information about Orna, visit her website.

Anna Featherstone is the Australian Ambassador for the Alliance of Independent Authors, co-founder of Bold Authors, a judge of the Australian Business Book Awards, and a member of the Small Press Network (SPN) and Australian Society of Authors (ASA). She also enjoys writing and presenting workshops, and author talks on entrepreneurial writing and publishing.

Read the Transcripts to the Podcast: Bake Marketing Into Your Writing Process

Orna Ross: Hello and welcome everyone to our second Publishing for Profit podcast.

This is second ever in this new series that we launched this autumn, and I have another new and fabulous presenter on the ALLi podcast to introduce to you.

It is Ms. Anna Featherstone. Hi Anna.

Anna Featherstone: Hi Orna.

Orna Ross: How are you down under?

Anna Featherstone: Oh, it's fantastic. We're getting ready for summer down here and there's so much happening though, isn't there? So many author things happening.

Orna Ross: So, many things happening everywhere all over the world, but let me just tell people who may not know you.

I know a lot of our listeners will know you from SelfPubCon and from your own work as an advice writer for non-fiction authors, but yeah do you want to tell people a little bit about you who may not know you, and particularly about your book?

Anna Featherstone: Yeah, sure. I've been writing for a very long time.

My first book was trad published, and I didn't think much of it at the time, but when I came to write my second book, even though I had literary agents and everything, it just didn't seem to go anywhere. So, I think that's around the time that I discovered ALLi and started tuning in and learning a lot from all the resources. Then since then I've written another three to four books, working on another one right now which is coming together, and also just really immersing myself in every bit of knowledge I can around non-fiction book marketing.

But also bringing the best of Indie and trad together so people learn best practice, because there's also a lot of trad authors who are really struggling and wondering, should they go hybrid or indie? And I'm just so curious about what people are doing, and not one thing works for everyone, but we can do so many things, and that's what I'm really passionate about; finding things that work for different individuals.

Orna Ross: Fantastic. I'm most familiar with your book for non-fiction authors, your self-publishing book for non-fiction authors, because you sent it to me, very kindly, when you published it. I'm mentioning that because I think it was a very smart move on your part. I got a lovely print book all the way from Australia, signed and dedicated, an acknowledgement kind of thing, and I thought that was a great marketing move on your part because the book spoke for itself.

So, I just want to mention that as something that if people are thinking of reaching out to people that they might want to put the book in front of. I mean, the steps were then, I read the book, I was impressed by the book, we connected, you joined us on SelfPubCon, we're going to be working on courses, and now here you are on the ALLi podcast.

So, it's the organic nature of when you put your work in front of the right people, the way in which things can grow and develop, and I think you are really good at that, and it's one of the reasons and that we're delighted to have you on the Publishing for Profit podcast, because you'll be able to speak to that and the various ways that you've done it, but also of course, because you work with so many authors, the various ways you've seen other people doing things too.

Anna Featherstone: I think with that book, I really wrote it for a really micro niche market for Australian non-fiction writers, even though it works for fiction and a bit more global, but it was really bang on that market, but I think what I did was I really wanted to thank you and also Joanna Penn, and all those people like Ricardo who had shared so much knowledge. So, I literally wrote at the beginning of the book, I'd like to thank these people because otherwise I would never have gone on that whole journey and come to it so quickly.

So that's, I suppose, the kind of thing where it just makes sense to be generous and kind back to the people who have been to you. None of us operate in isolation.

Orna Ross: It's such a good point. Kindness never goes astray, does it? You don't do it thinking, oh, I'll send this and then this will happen and that will happen, you do it from the impulse, the same impulse that makes us want to write a book. It just rises in us, and we follow it, but so many authors cut themselves off from that impulse. They would like to send it, but they feel, oh, they wouldn't want it, or we stop ourselves too often sometimes from doing things.

So, I just wanted to mention that up front.

Today we're going to be talking about baking marketing in as you write, and this part of the publishing for profit podcast we're going to focus on non-fiction authors because that is your specialty, but we will be mentioning in passing where the advice applies also to fiction and poetry. We find novelists get most attention in the indie publishing world and the poets and the non-fiction authors tend to get a little bit forgotten. So, in this part of the podcast we want to really zone in on the non-fiction people, and I know that you'll be doing that.

But just before we dive into today's topic, let's just do some updates.

Everybody on our podcast is a working indie author and we always like to hear what they're doing at the author level. So, what have you been up to?

Anna Featherstone: So, I've been doing things like judging the Australian Business Book Awards. So, reading lots and lots of books and doing the shortlisting, working with some other great people in the industry here to do that. So that's fascinating, being across so many different books is great.

Working with different non-fiction authors at various stages, whether they're memoirists, just starting, or people having troubles with their book covers, that kind of a thing, and also authors who have three really good ideas and just have to pick one. So, trying to help them work through which is the best one to start with.

Getting ready for summer, Orna, over here we are.

Orna Ross: We're getting used to winter, which arrived with a bang a few weeks ago.

Anna Featherstone: We're packing away the cardigans here and getting out the cosies.

Orna Ross: Fantastic, it sounds lovely. I think I'm just going to book plane.

Anna Featherstone: Oh, and the other thing I'm doing, I'm work actually working on this book, which is all around this topic, which is how to build marketing into your book so that when you are ready to actually launch it, you've already done so much of the work that it's not a difficult process. So, it's a strategic way of, when you're at your redrafting stage, how you can add elements into your book that make it easy to market.

Orna Ross: Fantastic, and that's what we're going to be talking about. We were talking before we came on about the way in which this particular Publishing for Profit podcast, we'll handle it in different ways, depending on the content.

Today, as this is your expertise, I'm essentially going to be interviewing you to tell us all that you have learned so far, all the tips and techniques and tools that you've come across as you've done your research for your book and your pre-writing.

So, just before I do that, I just want to give a quick ALLi update that we are going to be moving our member forum from Facebook across to Mighty Networks.

So, this is a big move for us. Since we started back in 2012, our author forums have been a Facebook group, but we're aware that more and more authors are not in love with Facebook, let's put it that way, leaving the platform. Also, there are constraints, there have always been constraints.

It has been worth it. I think we've always been, as we always are at ALLi, balancing the pros and the cons, and I think the great advantage of Facebook was that at the beginning, and still indeed, so many authors were there, so you didn't have to have another kind of login, another sign in, you were probably already on the platform talking to your friends and family, and so it was easy to jump across.

But so many changes, so many ads, so much turning it into much more of a business environment, have in a sense degraded the experience for a lot of people.

Then we thought, we would love to create our own forum and we looked at maybe building that. A lot of our website is actually custom built, and we looked at doing it, but we also tested out Circle and Slack, and Mighty Networks came out on top.

Then we tested that. Those of you who were at our recent Self-Publishing Advice Conference will know that we tested it, and it really went down super well.

So, we've called it SelfPubConnect, and we will have private closed spaces in a larger SelfPubConnect community for our members under the different categories.

We're in the act of prepping that move now. We will overlap with Facebook for quite some time. So, those of you who are still loving Facebook will still be there, but the intimate sense of community that it gives, the ability that it gives for us to share things like this podcast and so many other things. They're not going to be going out to the world as much. They're going to be kept more for our community, and we're excited about what it will allow us to achieve.

So, just want to give people a heads up on that. We will of course be writing to let you know when it happens. So yeah, that's our big project at the moment.

Anna Featherstone: That's exciting. I mean, it can be scary for some people who. Are only used to Facebook, but I thought during SelfPubCon that Mighty Networks was actually quite easy to get used to quite quickly.

Orna Ross: It's very intuitive.

Anna Featherstone: Yeah, and so many authors too are saying right now with Facebook, how visibility is diminishing on posts and all sorts of things are happening. So, I suppose it's what we say to authors, isn't it, that you really want to be in charge of your main platform.

Orna Ross: Exactly, and the forum is so important to us because the authors are just so fantastic at sharing their own experience. So, we can give best practice advice, but there's nothing like hearing from 10 different people within 10 minutes about their experience. You just get that overview. It's impossible to get any other way.

While I'm at it, can I just say a huge thank you to our members and to certain people, you know who you are, who are unfailingly and fabulously generous in your advice, and you're one of those, Anna, indeed, but there are many on our forum. Our forum is fantastic. It's super mannerly, kind, supportive, motivational, and it's a joy to go in there each day.

So, thank you to those of you who make it such a great place to hang out.

Okay then, so moving on to our theme today, built-in book marketing is your nice and pasty term.

So, just describe exactly what you mean by that.

Anna Featherstone: Yeah, so it's about literally building and baking opportunities into your book as you write it or redraft it, to make the marketing of it eventually much easier. Some authors do it organically, but it's more about thinking and doing all that thinking and groundwork before you get that printed book in your hand.

It just makes it so much easier, Orna.

Orna Ross: It's fantastic, and we get people very often writing to us. They'll ask a marketing question, and we'll say something, and then associate members, they'll say, Oh I won't be publishing my book until such and such a date, so I'll tackle the marketing then.

Anna Featherstone: People all the time just saying, I've got the book and I've got the illustrations, where's a publisher who could help me publish it? And I'm like, oh no, we need to go back.

Orna Ross: So, how did you come to the strategy?

Anna Featherstone: Because I failed, basically, Orna.

Orna Ross: This is how all the best ideas come.

Anna Featherstone: My background is actually marketing and media relations. You'd think I'd know what I was doing.

The first trad book, I didn't have to do anything. It went straight into the college system, the school system, and straight into bookstores. So, I had nothing to do with the marketing of that book at all, and I'd already moved on when the publisher did it, and they did a great job. It was the right book for the right time.

But then the second book, I had a literary agent, the literary agent couldn't place it. It was a great book; it was ahead of its time though. So, all the publishers were like, oh, these things will never happen.

So, it was a book about what families and communities could do with all major global upheaval. So, it talked about mass migration, international unrest, pandemics, but it was 10 years before the actual COVID. So, all the publishers were like, nah, this is crazy; this stuff won't happen.

Anyway, so I had to learn how to self-publish. So, I did do that. I mean, I sold some international rights, made it into libraries, it got publicity, but I was kicking myself because I was thinking, it is such an important book, what did I miss? I could have done so much more with it, and I had that typical author response of, it's an important book, if just some people find it, they will know that and they'll tell others and it'll be big, but it just doesn't happen.

So, because I cared so much about that book and the message in it, I actually went back afterwards and I was like, where did I go wrong? So, I analysed how I could have actually done much better.

At the time, I pushed it a bit, got some media in different countries, and when you're trying to push your own book, it's quite difficult and I didn't have the marketing budget to hire my own publicist, and I should have known how to do it, but there are all these gaping holes.

So, basically what I realized from that book is how to make the next three books so much better. So, better content, but also more opportunities for PR and marketing built into the books so I didn't have to push so hard or rely on myself so much.

Orna Ross: That's great. Two things I'd like to pick up on there. I really loved that forensic analysis of your own book. I think anybody who has a book that hasn't moved, begin there. Go back and look at, what could I have baked in as I was writing this book? Nothing will reveal it to you as, as clearly as that.

The second thing to pick up there is, when you're publicizing your own book, your approach is completely different than if you are working with a publicist or a third-party publisher. There are two different ways of going at things, and the baking it in from the beginning is something that the author has the control over, which again makes it an indie advantage, and we're always looking out for indie advantages in our marketing because obviously we tend to not have the budgets that big publishing has, though having said that, very few authors in big publishing are getting the budgets now, but the point is we have the advantage right from the start.

So, just before we talk about how to do it, what are the benefits as you see it?

Anna Featherstone: So, less scrambling and panic.

Because you've kind of already thought about the marketing and you put things in place, you're not running around at the end. So, that's one thing. You're building a community and your network prior to the book going out.

Just an example recently, I just put up on Instagram, should I call this book ‘built in marketing' or ‘baked in marketing', because I was tossing up between the two. Now, just by doing that, I had a huge amount of feedback across multiple platforms and actually interestingly enough, it's fallen on ‘built in marketing', because people say you can build on that. Whereas, if it's baked in, it could be half baked, and if you're a bad cook, it's got a bad connotation.

Interesting, I know. So just something as simple as asking people about your title.

I'm also using this book like a prototype to build opportunities in, do you know what I mean? So, it's a living example. So, it's also like a more holistic approach.

So many people hate to promote themselves. No one wants to be the salesy snake oil person. So, it's an approach that's, I don't know, it's just so much more comfortable. Because of the way you approach it too, you can actually get better content and make a better book as well, because you're implementing things into the book that will be better for your audience.

I Just love too, that it gives you so many PR angles. So, you don't get to the end of the book and think, how am I going to get publicity? Because you'll probably already be getting publicity through the course of writing the book and building your network.

Oh my God, there's just so much, Orna.

Orna Ross: There's just so much. I think the whole thing about a book is to get people's attention.

So, we get a lot of authors who are worried about piracy and people making money out of their book, what's far more likely to happen with a book is that it just doesn't get attention, and that's for experienced writers and publishers, as well as people who are just setting out, particularly if you switch genre or anything like that.

By talking about the book in advance, your title is the perfect example, by throwing that out there, already people are hearing that title. So, the next update it, sort of reinforces it.

They say, I think, seven or eight, or depending on which marketeer you talk to, 12 touch points with your book before people even begin to pay attention, cold people, begin to pay attention.

So, you're getting those attention points early. You're not having to do those eight or ten after the book is there. People are beginning to think about the names and they're beginning to engage with your concept. That example there is absolutely perfect.

They'll be far more likely to buy that book remembering that conversation that they had and that they encouraged the title, or even if they weren't on that side.

Anna Featherstone: They'll be like throwing their tongues at me, their spatulas.

Orna Ross: I don't think so. They're going to remember, which is the point. You're going to get that all important attention from them. It's just that whole thing of reinforcing.

You also come across then as somebody who listens, which I think is a really good look for an indie author. You listen to your readers, you take what they say on board, and I think that's another way in which you reinforce your brand with them.

Anna Featherstone: Oh, it's so true, and also when you listen, like I've been listening to you, to Russell Nohelty, to Joanna, all about Kickstarting as well. So, it's like when you start thinking of marketing as you're writing a book, you actually open to ideas too.

So, I'm in that process of going, wow, actually maybe I Kickstart this as well, which then gives it more opportunities, and that's made me think about what other content could I add? How could I make this an even richer experience?

And I have no idea, maybe you could give me tips too on this, but should I maybe, instead of waiting till the whole book's actually finished, drip out those chapters so people can start acting on the things I'm learning straight away?

So, I'm just saying, when you actually think marketing in terms of your book, your brain just starts going into places that could bring you more opportunities.

Orna Ross: Exactly. It is creative self-publishing, the creativity begins to kick in then while you're writing, while you're already creatively fired and activated about the topic or the book that you're writing, and you're thinking about how I'll share it.

Essentially what you're thinking about is, how do I share this book, so it reaches more people, excites more people, delights more people? And that is a really good frame of mind to be in both for marketing and for the writing.

I think it's so interesting that you mentioned Kickstarter, because one of the reasons I did the non-fiction Kickstarter and at time of recording here, I'm still in the middle of the campaign, but I think by the time we air it, it's going to be over.

But one of the reasons, I actually wanted to do a Kickstarter for a fiction project that I'd been working on for a very long time, but when I came to think about doing Kickstarter, I realized I hadn't done enough of exactly what you're talking about here. I needed six or seven months to begin to have those conversations with the right people, to put what I was doing in front of people, to start asking those questions, to start building a community, because I haven't done a novel since 2015. So, I have readers there and they're saying, when is this book coming? I have a certain bit of a group of readers there, but not enough by any means. So, the Kickstarter makes this stuff essential. You really have to, because you will fall flat on your face in a very public way if you don't do built in marketing, and I think that's what I realized.

So, everything you're talking about here, I am now going to do. I didn't have to do for the non-fiction audience because I already had done that through ALLi, through my other work, my creative planning work, that was already done.

But to do fiction now from a cold position of seven years on, I needed to go back. So, I'll be doing the Kickstarter in July for the fiction project, and I'll be doing all of this between now and then.

Anna Featherstone: You're going to be busy.

Also, you say that you haven't written fiction since 2015, but I would say that you are the cause of thousands of fiction books by inspiring people through what you do and through ALLi.

You can rank up a few extra books.

Orna Ross: Sure, the thing is I have, and that's very kind of you to say that, I have been writing, I've been writing like a crazy woman, I just haven't been publishing.

That's what's interesting, when you're not publishing and thinking about publishing, if you're not marketing, that's it, I'm in exactly the mindset that I shouldn't be in.

I should have been doing this stuff while I was writing, because I have been writing away for the last number of years, but I kind of went into this funnel because it's a huge book. I told myself I'd focus on the writing because I'm busy, and then you'll get to it, and you don't do it.

It's a mindset that needs to shift. There is nothing to stop you marketing while you're writing. It's just purely, you say to yourself, oh, I'm going to go into the writing zone and then I'm going to come out of the writing zone. I'm going to go into the marketing zone.

What we're saying here very clearly, very strongly is that is wrong thinking, unless it's absolutely essential for you, and you will know if that's true, but for most of us, for me, that was wrong thinking.

Anna Featherstone: Yeah, and maybe you do your first and your second draft without thinking about marketing, but then you've really got to build the marketing in after that. Get out your ideas, but then how can you refine them with the marketing hat on?

Orna Ross: Fantastic. The other benefit, just before we leave the benefits thing, is that it doesn't cost any money. It just costs your attention. You need to pay attention to the opportunities that are already there, and I think that's one of the great things about it.

Anna Featherstone: Yeah, I write in really niche non-fiction, like organic farming, small farming, sustainable beef, all those kinds of things. I mean, I just wanted to write and share these books, so I don't have a huge marketing budget to throw at them, which is why I had to be innovative in how I approach them.

So, I think this is a great way for people to look at marketing, rather than having to spend tens of thousands of dollars on ads. That can be great too, but what if you only had to spend a smaller amount because you've done other things that were free?

Orna Ross: Fantastic, absolutely. So, give us now, let's ground this. Talk to us a little bit about some examples of how this can happen.

Anna Featherstone: Yeah. So simply, just like in fiction, you'd write to the tropes, you'd meet reader expectations and do other things, but we're not going to concentrate on that right now.

So, let's talk one example, and this is just a really simple but effective example. This is when non-fiction people add quotes into their books.

So, a lot of non-fiction writers quote other experts. A great example, because I've just seen this recently with a lot of business books. So, many people quote Simon Sinek and Rene Brown, right? Now, that can also be a fine strategy, and I have done this myself, not with those two, but with other things.

Like Simon Sinek, “leadership is not about being in charge. Leadership is about taking care of those in your charge.”

So, that's a perfectly fabulous quote, but the thing is as an author, you're not bringing anything new to the table by quoting these are the big-name authors who already have sold millions of books. So, millions of readers have already read it. Okay.

So, it's not going to be fresh, it's not going to elevate your book, and also, Rene and Simon aren't going to give your book a free plug. Do you know what I mean? Unless you've worked the system somehow.

So, that's a minor example, but then authors also use quotes from dead people. Quotes that have been used over centuries and centuries. Now, these are fabulous quotes.

Cicero, “a room without books is like a body without a soul.” Fantastic quote, beautiful.

And Pythagoras, “do not say a little in many words, but a great deal in a few.”

So, they're great quotes, but the problem is, how can a dead person help you market your book? How can you meet a dead person at an event unless you're a medium? How can you collaborate with a dead person? Can a dead person, or would Simon or Rene mention you on LinkedIn? How is Cicero or Pythagoras going to recommend your book? Do you know what I mean?

Orna Ross: Point taken. No more dead people.

Anna Featherstone: So, no more dead people and no more people that are not going to actually add anything to your book. This is where I say build the opportunity into your book by using the quotes you're going to use to build your community, because it's going to make your book fresher, it'll have better content, and seek quotes from live people, up and comers, people who probably would be interested in hearing more about your book.

So, how I approach that is, let's say I've seen a great quote by a great person, I might think about what they're actually saying, then I might frame a question to another person in the space that can help elicit a similar response.

Do you know what I mean?

Orna Ross: Yeah, hello, I'm me, and I'm writing my book about this, and I'm contacting you because you admire so and so, or I saw your thing about blah blah, I'd be interested in your thoughts on this, and then could you give me a sentence or two, or something like that?

Anna Featherstone: Yeah. So, it's easy to get in touch with people.

What I would say is start at the top. So, compile a list of people you think would add to your network, have maybe a good social media presence or are respected in the community, but aren't in every second book already.

So, people who are inspirational, but maybe in the local area or on the other side of the planet, but in an interesting organization.

So, you might start with a famous person or a professor. Professors are so easy to get in touch with, they all need to have their name printed in places. So, universities put you in touch with people and you can use them to quote in your memoir, or if you're doing a how to, or whatever kind of book you're writing in non-fiction, you're going to be able to find people to quote.

So, you might get a CEO of a top company or an influencer, or you might just get a quote from the longest serving prisoner in your region, or the local mortician, or an ex-Olympian, or a mum of 12 kids, or the head of the podiatry association. So, who is going to help expand your book more than a dead person or a famous person who will never ever talk to you?

Orna Ross: Fantastic, and I'd like to mention a book here and I forget the author's name, but we'll have it in the show notes, which is called, How to Get a Meeting with Anyone. It's a really good, very practical. The author, the name just escapes me now, but the author talks about the whole six degrees of separation and how everybody is open to actually a short meeting if you frame it in the right way. So, we'll include that in the show notes.

Anna Featherstone: I'm working with an author right now who I hope we can talk more about next year when her book comes out, but she said she'd reached out to a few people to read her book and for the testimonial, and I said go higher as well, because you just never know.

So, she ended up reaching out to two quite amazing people and they both agreed.

Orna Ross: Yeah, it's that mindset we were talking about, the feeling where we cut ourselves out because we don't want someone to say no to us, because we don't like the feeling when someone says no. But actually, if we risk that and ask, rather than saying no to ourselves, which feels safer, but actually has its own discomfort there. It's just much more low level and we're not as aware of it, but if you're constantly holding yourself back from doing things that slightly scare you, then you're limiting your own creativity.

So, all of these things are ways in which we're expanding our creative selves and giving things a go.

It's really amazing how supportive people are, and as indie authors, we talk a lot, and at ALLi we talk a lot about our Open Up to Indie Authors campaign and the people whose doors are closed to self-publishers, but I think there are also a lot of doors that are open. People who admire what we're doing and who are willing to give the underdog, the person who's busily working themselves just from their own sense of belief, who don't have the structure of a publishing company or even a literary agent, but just doing the work. It's amazing how many people just will admire that and give you something.

So, I suppose that's the big tip that's really included in here in what you're saying, is don't say no to yourself.

Anna Featherstone: Let other people say no to you and be prepared for it, but don't say no to yourself. That's so important.

Orna Ross: And get over it if they do, and don't let that stop you from asking somebody else, because somebody else might well say yes.

Anna Featherstone: Oh, exactly, and also, if you're targeting the right people, you're going to get a lot of yeses, and if you target them in the right way and politely and courteously and understanding their time limits, you'll always get no's, but yeah, I mean, it's pretty exciting.

When you do get those yeses, what that means is you've then got more opportunities to work with them. So, you might then be able to say, oh, would you like an advanced reader copy? Can I get you to just check your quote? So, every time you are letting them know about your book, you're raising awareness of it, and even if they say no, at least they've now heard of you and your book.

So, maybe down the track, they kick themselves that they didn't say yes, and next time they will. You get to ask them; would you like to come to the book launch? Would you like to collaborate?

If you're dealing in a corporate kind of non-fiction or even like the hospital system, or other things like that, maybe you'll end up being able to do a bulk sale of your books or get a gig speaking at a conference about your topic.

But if you leave it till after your book's done, you're not going to have that person's quote.

Orna Ross: Or if you stick with the dead people.

Anna Featherstone: Yeah. No more corpse quotes, okay.

Orna Ross: Corpse quotes, love it. Okay. New technical term I learned this morning.

Anna Featherstone: Yeah. So, you're getting unique, rich content by doing so. You're getting a broader network, more chances of visibility, you're getting content for your blog or your Instagram, because you can mention that you've got this quote or that you talk with the person.

There might be backlinks that then happen, more book sales, and most people are pretty excited when they're quoted in a book. So, they're probably going to mention it on their social media too.

Orna Ross: Fantastic.

Anna Featherstone: And that's just one tiny thing.

Orna Ross: One tiny thing. Quotes. Yeah, but it's a great example because again, it's going to spark the ideas.

So, if you're listening people, feel free to pause this and take out your pen and paper, and just riff on some ideas of other things you could do as well.

So, we've been talking there very much about non-fiction, and this podcast, as I said, is pressing down on non-fiction, but just briefly to consider things that a fiction author or a poet might do as well. Any thoughts there?

Anna Featherstone: Oh, totally. We read great books all the time that are set in certain cities or certain fantasy lands. So, when you're thinking about where you're going to set your book or base something on your book, think strategically. I know an author in Australia who, even though her book is fantasy, she set it on one of the islands here.

So, immediately that gives you the option to talk to the souvenir stores on the island and say, this book is set, even though it's fantasy, it's based on this landscape. So, that gives you a potential in, but you can really take this down the track. So, you might pick a town and set it 50 years in the past or the future. You might use real street names, the architecture of the area, but you may then actually put clues into your book and build a treasure hunt through that town that you can then do more with when the book actually comes out.

So, you've put something into your book that makes it much easier to promote out the back end. Have you done that with any of your books, Orna?

Orna Ross: No, I haven't. My first novel, my first two novels are set in a real identified place, my home. It's a fictionalized village based on two villages near where I grew up, and the book did get a lot of attention in the local area at the time, but I certainly didn't approach it in that way or max out in that way.

There's actually a third part, there's a trilogy. So, I'm going to do this now. Great idea when that time comes around.

Anna Featherstone: So, how can you max it out? So, besides local media, obviously you can pitch to the local book clubs, to the library, but what about working with local businesses and the tourism board?

I'm also big for, as writers, why aren't we making more money selling articles to media? So, could you write a travel article for a national paper or travel website about the town and the setting?

What are other ways, as a writer, you can not only earn income, but also raise awareness of your book? Or maybe you write the story, and you don't get paid for it, but really, you're getting two pages of advertising for your book.

Orna Ross: Fantastic, and that's just settings. So again, there are all sorts of things that are in the book, in the novel.

When it comes to poetry, I think one of the best ways to approach this is to think about the inspirations for the poem, or the things that are contained within the poem, which you can then riff on that other people are either inspired by. So, you can get individuals and stuff like that. You can also, while not quoting the dead people, there are societies and followers of other poets who might have inspired you, as an example. So, you can be reaching out to them and events, there is just so much.

We could go on forever examples, but it's really very much about getting deeply into your own book and the ideas that organically emerge from that space are going to be the best ideas rather than, oh, that's a good idea, let me impose it on top of it. Deep around inside, whatever you got, whatever level of development book is at, begin there.

I would recommend a brainstorm, take the book and yourself off to a cafe, and lots of free writing around what's in there and what might actually be a good marketing opportunity.

Anna Featherstone: And while you're doing your research, take photos. So, those images then become, instead of you get to, when you're ready to publish your fiction or poetry and starting, oh, what am I going to do for socials, you're going to have this beautiful bank of material already that has inspired you a lot.

Orna Ross: We seemed to lose you there for a second.

Anna Featherstone: Might have been that kookaburra that flew into the window.

Orna Ross: The kookaburra got us in the end. Just finish off what you're saying there about the imagery because that's super interesting.

Anna Featherstone: As you're writing your poetry and all those inspirations or your fiction, gather textures, fabrics, images, so that when you come to the book being ready to launch, you have a huge bank of material. So, you're not struggling everyday thinking, what can I post now?

You've already got a treasure trove of things because you've been doing it from the start.

I said, you might be out and go, Oh, there's a leaf. Maybe take a picture of the leaf or maybe recall something about the leaf that then you can use as a quote.

You gather as you go rather than leaving it to the end.

We think a lot in our brains as writers, obviously there are artistic people who think in imagery as well, but if you can capture and start your own filing cabinet of images, textures, even music, sounds, things that have inspired you as you go.

Orna Ross: Absolutely love it, because I think it makes the whole experience of writing so much more creative, and it makes our lives more creative, and I think this is creative use of social media.

This is where it isn't about second guessing what the reader wants, but very much adding it into your own creative process and organically over time attracting those people who are naturally attracted to what it is you're doing, and they are the people who stay with you when the book comes and beyond that and become an evangelist for your book, because you speak the same language, you're interested in the same things, you're inspired by the same things. It becomes a really beautiful thing because your life becomes intricately linked in with your book and you're putting it out there in that way.

I think it develops a muscle inside, a marketing muscle inside us that's a really positive experience.

Anna Featherstone: Yeah, and there's one thing, this kind of built in marketing, it takes the stress off at the end. So, if you're thinking this way, let's talk poetry. There's a local cafe here up near the koala hospital, and they've started doing a poetry open mic night once a month. Now, this is also where the mark thinking marketing can actually help your content for the book. So, you could actually go trial some of your poetry or do a chapter reading. Organize a gathering in your town, talk to a local business, could we use the venue? So, you start to build your community. You help a local business, but also, you're refining what you're writing at the same time. So, it can be a beautiful give and take. So, it's not just marketing, and it becomes so easy and so much more fun.

Orna Ross: Absolutely, and I think that is the lesson here. It's marketing, but it doesn't feel like marketing because it isn't just marketing.

It isn't just about, oh, how can I get someone to buy my book? It's about something much, much deeper and much more creative.

So, I actually needed this pep talk now in relation to my fiction. This has come at a very timely time for me. I'm really pleased that we had this conversation, and I hope listeners that you have, we've given you some ideas and we've set you off thinking.

So, it really means that no matter where you are in your book, unless you're in that very early organic stage where you do actually have to put up the barriers and go into your ivory tower and just be there with your idea if it's something very delicate and unformed.

But as soon as you have something that is robust enough to take out into the world, don't wait, get to it.

Thank you so much, Anna, for sharing your expertise.

Anna Featherstone: Fabulous. Great talking to you Orna, and have a fabulous week everyone, writing and thinking about book marketing.

Orna Ross: Yes, indeed. Happy writing. Happy publishing, everybody. We'll see you again next week. Take care. Bye.

Author: Howard Lovy

Howard Lovy is an author, book editor, and journalist. He is also the Content and Communications Manager for the Alliance of Independent Authors, where he hosts and produces podcasts and keeps the blog updated. You can find more of his work at https://howardlovy.com/


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