I had lunch recently with a friend who writes. She had been trying to sell her mystery and although she got good feedback, the manuscript kept being returned to her with notes that said something like, "loved this, but don't think I can sell it." What did they want? She asked.
My take? Simple. They want a writer who has a platform that will sell the book. Now if you are not already famous in some other venue, just how do you do that?
Establish an internet presence. Join Facebook and Twitter and start a fan page. Blog. No, don't just start a blog--be disciplined about it and do it religiously.
Investigate bookstores, blogs and groups that are about your topic. In other words, if you write mystery check out places like Stopyourekillingme and Crimespace (and makeminemystery!)Check out places where you could speak, or give talks. Learning to promote takes almost as much time as learning to write, and it changes all the time. Put in the effort.
Make yourself a marketing plan and submit it with the book. Don't promise what you have no means or intention of delivering. But show off your hard won knowledge of what it will take to promote and let the publisher/editor/or agent know that you know that it is part of your job.
Don't quit with the first (or thirteenth or twentieth rejection.) It's a hard market out there and selling the book to the publisher is just the first hurdle.
Christine Duncan is the author of the Kaye Bereano mystery series. Book Two, Safe House is available now.