MARLEEN RECHSTEINER is the author of Leven Zonder Agenda (“Life Without Agenda”) published in Dutch by Artemis & Co. in 2009. Her book explores the challenges of caring for a special-needs child, combining memoir, research, interviews with other parents, and advice.
She writes from personal experience: her 15-year-old son Emile has Williams syndrome — also known as Williams-Beuren syndrome — a rare neurodevelopmental disorder characterized by an “elfin” facial appearance, developmental delays, learning disabilities, and cardiovascular disease, but also strong language skills, high sociability, and often, an affinity for music. Williams syndrome affects about 1 in 10,000 people worldwide.
Here are Marleen’s top marketing strategies:
Plan marketing activities well ahead of your book’s publication date. (This is a difficult one because most writers are so happy they’ve finished writing the book that they don’t want to have anything more to do with it for a while.) But the life cycle of a book is short. In most cases, after half a year the book is “old” and publicity will go to newer books. Begin early, so you can take full advantage of the momentum of publication and those first months.
Don’t leave all the marketing initiatives to your publisher. It has many books to do PR for — your book is only one of them. Discuss with your publisher how you can help.
Explore social media, which offer you great opportunities to promote your book actively without conflicting with publisher initiatives. Develop a website and/or blog, create a video book trailer, and make use of Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.
Identify your potential target groups and find creative ways to reach them. Many books appeal to more than one type of audience. Market your book accordingly. Target magazines that may be interested in a particular aspect of your book, for example, and adapt your message to their audiences. In promoting Leven Zonder Agenda, for a broadcast for expat audiences I took the perspective of a parent living abroad; for a parenting magazine I wrote an article focusing on the challenges of educating children generally.
Make sure the material you offer to media is always your best. Your mailings should look professional. Copies should be of high quality, and one side only. Include a summary of the book, and excerpts, and a variety of relevant and appealing photos they can choose from.
Write up a basic interview with yourself about your book, with questions and answers, and distribute to media along with your contact details. This saves journalists time.
Monitor book sales and online reactions carefully. Google your name and the title of your book periodically. Keep informed on how your book is doing and what’s being said (or not said) about it.
When a reader writes you a message, answer it promptly!
And read my interview with Marleen: Life Without Agenda: author Marleen Rechsteiner on writing, and raising a son with Williams syndrome
MARLEEN RECHSTEINER is a marketing and communications manager for an international management consultancy in the Netherlands. She graduated from the University of Amsterdam with a degree in European Studies, majoring in Public Relations. She spent nine years living abroad in the United States, Belgium, the U.K., Chile, and Venezuela, before returning to the Netherlands two years ago. Marleen and her family make their home in Amersfoort.