Mapping Out Your Writing Life

by Allison Pottern Hoch

It’s the beginning of the year and everything feels fresh and possible. Whether you’re still chipping away at a work-in-progress, starting something new, or staring down the lane at future publication dates, your writing life lies open before you.

But the wide-open possibility of an entire year doesn’t always jibe with reality—work, deadlines, kids, travel, housekeeping, health, pets. What has worked for me is mapping out a mix of fixed and flexible goals. This helps me have plan, self-motivate, and stay nimble as new opportunities present themselves. Continue reading

How To Pitch Your Book Event

by Allison Pottern Hoch

If you’ve published a book or are in the querying trenches, you know what it takes to promote your book to an agent or editor. But once you’re ready to market that book, how do you convince a venue to take you on for an event? Remember the four P’s: professionalism, politeness, preparation, and patience. Continue reading

Take a Peek Behind the Bookshelves; or Why Bookstores and Writers Need Each Other

by Allison Pottern Hoch

On September 10th, I’m moderating a panel of bookselling experts at the Writers’ Loft. I pitched this event to the Loft because, to me, the importance of bookstores and booksellers to the career of a writer is critical. Strong advocacy from bookstores can make a significant impact on the sales of a book. And writers can be relentless supports of local indies. At “Behind the Bookshelves: A Panel on Building Relationships with Bookstores” we’re going to talk about what working at a bookstore looks like, how writers and bookstores can support one another, and how their marketing efforts can work in concert. Continue reading

Once You Have Readers, How Do You Keep Them?

by Allison Pottern Hoch

You wrote a book—and people are reading it! Or maybe you’ve published your first short story in a literary magazine with a greater circulation than your immediate family. Perhaps your blog is getting some extra views. How do you hang on to these interested readers and get them to come back the next time you have some fresh writing to offer?

Have a web presence

It’s critical to have an up-to-date, clean, and accessible web presence so that readers can find you online, connect with you, and feel like they are getting fresh information. Whether it’s a simple web page or a Facebook fan page, make sure it’s current. Continue reading

Press Kit: What It Is, And Why You Need One

by Allison Pottern Hoch

WHETHER YOU’RE A PUBLISHED AUTHOR or planning to be, it’s important to make sure you’re prepared for the day when someone wants to feature you: at an event, on a blog, in a newspaper, etc. That’s where a press kit comes in.

A press kit is a collection of documents and images that contain promotional material about you and your projects. It is used in conjunction with a promotional pitch to media and event outlets. You can have these documents collected in a folder on your hard drive or have them downloadable on your website. Having a well-organized press kit is a double win: it makes your life easier and shows that you’re professional and invested in your own self-promotion. Continue reading

Quick and Dirty Events—Ask an Event Coordinator!

by Allison Pottern Hoch

ABOUT A MONTH BEFORE AN EVENT with a debut author, I’d get a call from them. They would be bursting with enthusiasm—and terror. They were about to get up and do…what? For how long? Would anyone be there? We would take some deep breaths together and I would answer their questions. Here are some of the most common queries:

Do people even come to book events?


How do I get people to come?

People will only come to your event if they know about it. So make sure to pick a venue/date/time that will appeal to your audience and then get the word out. Send out invites to the people you know and post flyers and promote through co-sponsors and social media to the ones you don’t.

Should I dress-up?

Wear something you feel good and comfortable in, with an eye towards looking professional–unless you’re dressing to match your book. I’ve worked with authors dressed as pirates, lighthouses, you name it. That works too! Continue reading

Aiming High and Aiming True: Finding Your Book’s Audience

by Allison Pottern Hoch

WHILE WORKING ON YOUR BOOK, you probably imagined your ideal reader. Maybe an eager young bookworm so drawn into your story they miss their stop on the subway. Or a retiree relaxing by a pool, cracking the spine on your newly minted tome. While this is a great tool for crafting your novel, when it comes to marketing, you need to think bigger. I guarantee you have other readers beyond that ideal, readers you may have not even thought about yet. The key, of course, is getting those readers to show up.

If you read my first post or attended one of my workshops, you’ll know how strongly I believe in preparation. When it comes to marketing yourself, it’s important to have both realistic expectations and a sound plan. Knowing your desired audience before you lift the phone to make a cold call is critical. “Readers” or “fans,” even “children” or “adults” isn’t sufficient. In pitching yourself to any venue or media outlet, they’ll want to know who is going to tune in and how many.

Audience is key to everything: it’ll help determine the best venue, event style, promotional partners, and event date and time. Most books have more than one audience; that’s representative of a rich and varied narrative, bravo! But trying to aim for all those different audiences at the same time, while not impossible, can stretch you thin. By identifying the key audience for an event or marketing strategy, you are focusing and amplifying your energy to reach those specific readers. You’re designing a program in which a consumer can easily see themselves and their interests. And if you know who you’re marketing to, your venues and media outlets will too.

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Before You Do Anything Else … Know Your Marketing Goals

by Allison Pottern Hoch

WRITING OR ILLUSTRATING A BOOK can seem easy compared to marketing, because marketing involves talking to other people. About your book! And yourself! Pure agony for us bookish introverts.

But listen, I have good news. Marketing can also be fun. Once you start to crack the code on how to market, it becomes a creative endeavor, the same as writing or making art.

When I coordinated author events for an indie bookstore, I interacted on a weekly basis with authors who were nervous and overwhelmed by the prospect of hosting a book event. I’ll tell you the same thing I told them: The secret to great marketing is preparation. Making sure you’re prepared for your events and marketing outreach ensures that you have less work to do in the long run—and that you’ll have greater success.

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