Friday, July 01, 2005

July 1st...Time for the Friends With Benefits Battleplan...

It's two months until the publication of Friends With Benefits, and it's time to start working my marketing plan. If you've noticed (or cared to check), the Amazon ranking of Friends With Benefits has fluxuated a lot. From a low of 1 mil to around 10k, it is going to continue to yo-yo as individuals begin buying books before it is released. Now it is time to start honing the FWB battleplan.

Here is my first goal:

I want to get Friends With Benefits on a few bestsellers lists. The immediate ones are:
Los Angeles Times & New York Times.

Since these two lists are weekly lists, you can get on those lists faster and then use that designation as a marketing tool for all of your promotions.

The Essence Magazine list is probably more important in the black community, but doesn't report until three months after FWB is published. Essence is a reliable list for black women to follow, and it might as well be a buyers guide. You want to be on that list month after month. My first book, The Divine Nine, was on that list over and over, and it definitely moved books.

As I've stated before, bestsellers lists are marketing tools. Nothing more, nothing less. They aren't as effective as word of mouth from friends you trust, but they can make your book a part of the conversation.

In order to get on these lists, you have to do booksigning at bookstores that report to these various lists. Sometimes you know which ones report, and sometimes you don't. Over the years, I've figured out many of them. Not all of the stores I sign in are reporting stores, however.

In a lot of ways, this is new for me. Cultivating the fiction reader is a lot different that going after the non-fiction reader. It is important to brand myself while forging a connection with readers who enjoy FWB. With non-fiction, your readers tend to buy the book for the topic. With fiction, the reader buys the topic, but also the writer and the writing style. They invest a lot in the writer and count on him/her to not let them down, book to book. My task is to get as many people as possible to make that investment.


Dave said...

So how did your transformation from non-fiction writing-guy to bestselling novelist come about? What made you decide to write novels?

Lawrence said...

It started when I changed agents. My first agent was great, but she repped mainly women's fiction. I switched to my current agent when he was at William Morris (he's left there and I left WMA with him).

I'd written two great non-fiction proposals, but even though the editors liked them, they just couldn't sell. The market for black non-fiction is a small one, mainly dealing with music, self help, and personal bios. It was then that I started thinking about expanding beyond non-fiction. The task was to take the non-fiction topics I liked and then make them fiction. Plus, although non-fiction is my passion, fiction is fun to write. My agent was happy and so was my publisher.

That taught me a lesson. If I'm going to write, make sure you have as many avenues open to you as possible, so you are never too comfortable, and also, no one can shut you down because of market forces. That's part of the reason I'm in the UCLA program. When I die, I never want to look back and think why didn't I take full advantage of everything available. My attitude is write until you die. Then let you work tell folks who you were.