Since my book releases next month, I've been thinking (a lot) about marketing. It seems to me that we must be just as creative in this phase as we were when plotting the novel, just as bold in approaching various venues as we were when seeking an agent. It's a bit daunting.

Here's what I've learned, or at least what I think I've learned.

No book will fit every venue every time. You have to choose where you'll expend your energies and forget trying to sell to every reader in the country. My book is historical, so it's unlikely to sell in bookstores that carry comics and sci-fi. I scratch them off the list. I know I may be losing one sale somewhere, someday, but I prefer to use my time to best advantage.

You need to find events that relate to your topic and your schedule. Since my era is eleventh-century Scotland, I'll visit Highland Games and Renaissance Festivals to do signings. Since it's a romance I'll design special events for Valentine's Day. Since in winter we spend a month in Florida, I'll call bookstores there to see if they'll host a signing.

You have to expand your horizons. A good way to bring your book to people's attention is to bring yourself to their attention. I give talks at libraries so that people get to know me. (While I'm there I ask for their email addresses so I can remind them when my book is available.) My background in education has created a way for me to connect, and libraries love to cooperate, since I don't charge a fee. You may have a craft you could sell or show while at the same time advertising your book. Find events where people who like topics in your book will be gathered in large numbers. That's the audience you want.

Finally, you have to be ready (and grateful) when Fate hands you a lucky break. A former student emailed me two weeks ago to say that he now works at the corporate offices of a certain HUGE bookstore chain. Was there anything he could do to help out his former English teacher, he asked. Hmmmm. Let me count the ways!

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