In less than a month, my book on the business of college football, Saturday Millionaires: How Winning Football Builds Winning Colleges, hits bookstore shelves (you can pre-order now)! After spending the better part of two months drafting the nearly 10,000 word proposal, writing a query letter and shopping it around to agents, and then spending a year writing the manuscript and another nine months on three rounds of edits, I thought my hard work was done. I was wrong….
I read enough agent and author blogs to know the basics of marketing a book. I was aware pretty early on that the marketing publishers provide isn’t enough to make a book successful. I knew no one could market it the same way I could, and that I would be a key ingredient in the process. Now several months into the marketing process, with lots of work to be done for the final push, I realize marketing my book has become like having another full-time job.
Despite reading dozens of author and agent blogs, I haven’t ever seen a really detailed account of how someone pulled together their own marketing campaign for a non-fiction book. I wanted to document mine for others to use as a roadmap. This might require some update once the book is out, but this is what I’ve done so far:
I needed/wanted ARCs to go out to two very different groups of people, media members and professors. Obviously, the publisher would have sent to media members regardless. However, since I am a media member myself, I had professional relationships with most of the media members covering college football who I wanted to receive an ARC. Making the list of people was easy…tracking down shipping addresses for each of them took some time. It took me 2-3 weeks to track everyone down by email, Twitter direct message and LinkedIn to get shipping addresses. I created a spreadsheet with the media member’s name, network affiliation and street address. I can tell you now that I wished I’d also gotten all of their email addresses. Now I’m having to go back and do that so that so I can follow-up with them now that they’ve received ARCs.
I also knew from my previous speaking engagements at universities that there were professors considering the book as required reading for sports management/administration and law courses. I started making a list of every professor who tweeted or emailed me about my book nearly two years ago when I first began writing the book. As the time to send ARCs got closer, I emailed/tweeted all of those professors and asked for mailing addresses. I also set up a form on my website that professors could fill out if they were interested in receiving an ARC, which asked for their email address, shipping address, school and courses taught. I set that up about 6 weeks before ARCs were due to go out. Then I had to compile all the information into a spreadsheet to send to the publisher.
I knew from the beginning that I wanted to go to a different college football game every weekend this season in order to promote my book. The publisher gave me the discretion to plan the stops on the tour, so about five months before the book’s release I put together a list of universities, largely based on where I had relationships in either the sports management department or athletic department. It’s my belief that in order to make this book tour the most successful it can be, I need some help on the ground before the day of my arrival.
To that end, I made a list of people I wanted to look for and reach out for each stop. Professors and athletic department personnel were easy. Then I decided to see if my sorority, or the fraternity I was a “little sister” for, had a chapter on campus…or an alumni chapter nearby. I also looked for Gator clubs nearby, as I’m a University of Florida law grad. In addition, I tracked down information for local sports radio stations, newspapers and television shows. We’re not talking about hours here…we’re talking about weeks of pulling all this information together…and thankfully, the help of my assistant, Mackenzie.
Then I had to draft emails to send to all these people on my list in each city. First, I had to get in touch with the bookstore where I wanted to host my signing and ensure availability for my date. Luckily, most campus bookstores are affiliated with Barnes & Noble, and they were able to easily order a supply of my book for the signing. Next, I drafted emails to all those other folks on each campus and in each city letting them know the date and location of my book signing and asking for their support. Many of those emails have involved follow-up emails and have led to additional speaking opportunities for me while I’m in town. I recommend doing all this before you book any travel, as several of my trips have now been extended.
I also decided to try a crowd-funding website to help fund my book tour. The publisher provides no financial support in this area, so I thought doing a campaign would allow me to raise a little money for the tour while also providing some fun rewards for my readers. You can check out my campaign here, which still has 11 days left.
Creating the campaign took far more time than I thought. I tried Kickstarter first, not knowing it would take at least a few days to get the campaign up and running. It took me a couple of hours to draft my campaign and come up with all the rewards (some of which included autographed copies of the book, and for your writers out there, a copy of the book proposal my agent submitted to publishers for the book). Next, you have to set up an account with Amazon Payments, if you don’t have one already. That process took 6 days total. The account was initially approved after 3 days, but then it took another 4 days to have the account verified once I sent in tax information that was requested for my LLC. Kickstarter won’t allow you to submit your campaign for review until after your Amazon Payments account is verified, so it then took another 3 days to find out my campaign was rejected. I still have no idea why it was rejected. I received a form notice, which only said I didn’t meet their requirements. I’ve read the requirements, and modeled my campaign after several other book tour campaigns on Kickstarter, and I’m still dumbfounded as to why mine was rejected.
So, nearly 2 weeks after trying to get my Kickstarter campaign off the ground, I moved on to IndieGoGo. It not only allows you the option of keeping contributions even if you don’t get fully funded, it also took mere minutes to set up after I cut and pasted over my campaign from Kickstarter. IndieGoGo uses PayPal, where I already had a verified account, and there’s no review before the campaign goes live on the site. Much more efficient.
There are several other ways I’ve promoted my book. I did a giveaway of 3 ARCs on Goodreads last week. I set up my author account at Goodreads a couple of months ago (which I believe required that I’d reviewed 50+ books), and I’ve been using Twitter and Facebook to encourage people to add my book to their “Want to Read” shelf. Setting up the giveaway only took about 5-10 minutes, and mailing the books to the winners was pretty simple, although I did spend a few extra minutes including hand-written notes in each one.
To encourage professors to use the book for classes, I’ve created PowerPoint presentations to go along with the book. I already had a presentation based on two of the chapters that I use when I guest lecture, so it only required some minor tweaks. However the other 4 presentations I created took approximately 3 hours each. I also spent some time emailing professors and asking if they were going to use the book this fall, offering to Skype into their classes and letting them know about the PowerPoints. For those who are using the book, I’ve been coordinating with the publisher to ensure their shipments go out as soon as the books are printed so they have them for the start of the semester. The book was originally due out in July, in plenty of time for courses, but the move back to September required me to do some legwork ensuring professors the books would be there in a timely manner, getting them the ARCs in plenty of time to review and coordinating shipments with the publisher – something that’s ongoing for me right now.
My IndieGoGo campaign also led to a couple of unexpected requests for speaking proposals for a law firm and a bank, both of whom want to have client events with me as the featured speaker. I spent about an hour on each of those proposals.
I’ve also spent some time looking into promotional items like koozies (since my book tour is being done around tailgating on game days). I’m thankful for an awesome student I’ve been career coaching, Jordan, who offered to help me with this and saved me some time.
So far, I’ve done about a dozen radio interviews about the book’s upcoming release, and I’ve been interviewed by a newspaper and a magazine. I’m extremely lucky that my law firm, Taylor English Duma, offered me the use of their PR firm for the Atlanta market, and she did an awesome job setting up some stuff for me and getting ARCs out to the local media there.
Obviously, I’ve also been trying to promote preorders of the book through my Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn accounts. Also on my to-do list is to reach out to some of the magazines I freelance for and see if there are any pieces I can write that relate to my book or my job.
There’s not a day that’s gone by in the past four months that I haven’t spent time on my marketing campaign, and I was doing some of these things pretty early on in the writing process. I’ve been using the hashtag #SaturdayMillionaires to promote the book since I first started writing it – which helped me make a compelling argument to keep my title when my editor wanted to change it, lol. I’ve also been talking about the book during radio interviews for at least a year and a half. Every time I got an idea for a marketing approach or someone to keep in mind (professor, media member, whoever), I saved it in a spot on my computer for future reference.
Even being highly organized and starting early, marketing this book has felt like a part-time job for months, and some days a full-time job. But…I also feel really good about where I’m at, and when it’s all over I think I’ll be able to say that I did everything I could to promote this book.
You can pre-order Saturday Millionaires on Amazon or Barnes & Noble or get an autographed copy through my IndieGoGo campaign!