Since 1994, Jim Rubart has worked with clients such as AT&T/Cingular, RE/MAX, ABC and Clear Channel radio though his company Barefoot Marketing, but his passion is writing fiction. His debut novel ROOMS will be published by B&H Fiction in April. He's also a photographer, guitarist, professional speaker, golfer, and semi-pro magician. He lives in the Northwest with the world's most perfect wife and his two almost-perfect sons. No, he doesn't sleep much. You can reach him at jlrudini[at]comcast.net
Interview With Randy
This month’s column is the second half of an interview I did in the May issue of Randy Ingermanson’s stellar e-zine, Advanced Fiction Writing. You can find part one here.
Authors are continually told to do more marketing for their fiction, but over and over I hear that most marketing by most authors seems to be fruitless. Why is that and what can we do about it?
What if I said, “Randy, you need to get into shape. So let me tell you about Sumo wrestling. Those guys might be heavy, but they’re in incredible condition”? If you had no knowledge about fitness, you might take my advice and join a group of Sumo wrestlers and try to train with them. Soon you would come to me and say, “Uh, Jim, I have a lean body type, and I don’t like all the slamming into each other . . . in fact this whole Sumo thing isn’t working for me.” Why? It doesn’t fit your body type, your skill set, and your desire. You’re not made for Sumo wrestling.
But this is what we do to authors all the time. We tell authors, “You have to blog! Do Facebook! Twitter! Do a newsletter! Speak! Do articles! And if you can ever get on radio and/or TV, do it!”
Can you do everything well? Unlikely. Let’s look at radio and TV: The reality is some people should never get on the radio or TV. They will leave those interviews with fewer readers, not more. If you’re going to be on TV or radio, you have to know how to speak in sound bites, you have to be entertaining, you had better have a quick wit and a nice voice.
Can you train yourself to be effective on radio and TV if you don’t already have that ability? Absolutely. But authors need to realize there is a skill set needed in radio and TV as well as for all the other marketing venues mentioned above.
When I work with my author-clients, we find out what works for them. What marketing things are they good at naturally? What do they like to do? I customize a plan that fits their gifts, which is what makes it effective.
One size fits all doesn’t fit anyone.
ROOMS is currently #1 in the Kindle Store on Amazon. Like many other Kindle books, it’s free, but those other books aren’t #1. What made the difference with ROOMS?
Based on my Amazon reviews, it’s a love- or hate-it book. As you said in your intro “it sounded either hopelessly weird or incredibly cool.” I’m fortunate that more people think it’s incredibly cool than hopelessly weird. ROOMS is a high concept book. It’s not like anything else out there. This hurt me at first. Publishing houses liked the writing, liked the uniqueness of the plot, but didn’t know what to do with it. Everyone turned it down the first go around (even B&H, who eventually bought it). Now readers are calling it better than The Shack and better than Dekker. Which brings us back to point # 1 about trying to write books that stand out from the crowd.
What are your thoughts on e-books? Are they a threat to the book industry, its salvation, or something else?
Right now they are its salvation. ROOMS was averaging an Amazon ranking of 15,000 before we did the free Kindle promotion. Two days after launching the promotion, ROOMS dropped into the low 2,000s and has stayed there.
Depending on who you believe, e-readers are 3 to 4 percent of the market. If the key to fiction marketing is spreading word of mouth, it makes sense to give away the book to 4 percent of the market in hopes that they’ll tell the other 96 percent about this cool new book they’ve read, which will build hard-copy sales.
That being said, I might change my tune in two or five or seven years. When e-readers are 40 percent of the market, I believe the free e-book strategy will be much less effective.
What’s next on the agenda for you? When is your next book coming out, and what’s it about?
On the marketing side I’m working on a number of products that will teach authors how to market their fiction more effectively. On the fiction side, my next novel, Book of Days will hit shelves in January 2011.
It’s the story of a man who goes on a quest to find God’s Book of Days—described in Psalm 139—that has recorded the past, present, and future of every soul on earth.
Sounds weird! I’m looking forward to reading it. Thanks for your time, Jim. I know you’ve been busy lately.
Thanks for having me, Randy!
Randy sez: Well, there you have it. Love him or hate him, Jim Rubart stands out from the crowd. He’s certainly given me something to think about, and in the next few months, I’ll be twisting Jim’s arm to help me with my own marketing strategies for . . . the next big thing I’ll be launching. But more of that later.
Next month in CFOM we’ll tackle some IAQ’s (Infrequently Asked Questions) about marketing.