Here are the next three parts of a marketing plan:
Target Audience: Remember to think beyond your initial audience (the reader typical to your genre). Brainstorm a list (as I did here) to broaden your thinking about those who might find your book appealing.
“Remember: By defining your audience, you can figure out which media to approach – or suggest that your publicist approach – to get publicity coverage for your book that will reach your readership.”
Positioning Statement (or Pitch): “The positioning statement is one or two appealing sentences that make the listener highly curious about the book…A finely honed positioning statement will become the basis of how everyone in your publishing house can talk about the book…Why should we care about the book? The positioning statement answers this question.”
Scan your query. Ask your agent how she’s pitching your story to editors.
MAY B.’s pitch:
This is a hard one for me. I’ve come up with nothing on my own. Agent Michelle has pitched MAY B. as LITTLE HOUSE ON THE PRAIRIE with a modern feel.
The Background Story: “A short background piece – a couple of paragraphs to a couple of pages long – about how and why you wrote the book.” This can include your publication journey, “any unusual events in the research and writing of the book or specific influences on your work.”
This is the story of your story. It’s a chance for publicists (and hopefully readers!) to talk about your book. (We all know the background story on HARRY POTTER AND THE SORCERER’S STONE. Next week I’ll post about the big word-of-mouth seller, THE HELP, which has an amazing background story.)
MAY B.’s background story:
I’ve always been interested in the women of the frontier, most likely stemming from my love for the Little House on the Prairie books. As a child, I’d talk about Laura as if she were someone I personally knew. I’d devote a lot of time wondering about her world: how she’d never seen a town until she was five, how she hadn’t gone to school (or even lived near one) until she was seven, how a penny in her Christmas stocking was such a big deal (and how the first time she saw a Christmas tree, she didn’t know what it was!)
When I began teaching, I thought a lot about learning on the frontier, where the schoolhouse focus on recitation and memorization favored students able to do these things well. There’s a character in the Laura books named Willie Olsen, an ill-mannered school boy who often sat in the corner during lesson time. As a kid, I labeled him a bad boy; as a teacher, I wondered if there was something more going on. Maybe Willie was a poor student and a goof-off because he had a learning disability. Maybe he couldn’t grasp his school work not because he wasn’t capable but because no one had taught him how.
MAY B. is part tribute to the frontier woman, part exploration of what it means to be capable as a child, as a daughter, as a student, as a girl, and as a human being.
This story didn’t start as a novel-in-verse. I tried several scenes as straight prose, never getting to the heart of the character or story. The more first-hand accounts of pioneer women I read, the more I understood why. Journals and letters from this era were terse accounts of the mundane, literal and immediate. The recording of daily events served as a safe, predictable pattern. When something “happened,” and the pattern was broken, stability ended. Once I noticed these themes, I knew how to tackle my story.