Wednesday, September 28, 2011

So You Want to Write a Novel: Promotion

When The Grim finally went to print, I asked my mentor, "What do I do now?"  His infamous answer was, "Promote, promote, promote."  Every author wants to sell their book; why else did you write it?  Sure, it was for the personal satisfaction of having achieved that long-awaited dream, but if no one reads it except you, than that achievement loses its luster pretty quickly.  I'm certainly not a marketing expert, but I'll give you the benefit of my knowledge, and hopefully, you'll get some success out of these suggestions I've tried.

As I said in the marketing segment, you will not succeed without an online presence.  The world is too technologically driven in the 21st century, and if your audience can't Google or Bing you, your book is sunk right out of the gate.  There are (free) ways to remedy this catastrophe.  Facebook and Twitter are definitely your friends.  It's called social networking, and, unless your audience is of a demographic younger than 10 or older than 60, your audience is on one or both of these sites.  Even if your direct audience isn't on these networks, someone close to them is, and you cannot afford to run the risk of skipping over millions of potential readers.  The name of the game is accessibility: your have to make sure you and your book are right at your readers' fingertips so that they can purchase to their hearts' content.  Almost everything can be found online now, and the internet is the easiest method of accessibility.  So if you're nowhere to be found online, I doubt many of your potential readers will bother running to a mall or bookstore hoping to find what was nonexistent a moment ago via search engine.

You might start a blog.  You can do this free on several sites, like Blogger, WordPress, and MyBlogSite.  Start community pages on magazine sites that fit the interest, genre, or demographic of your book.  But the best tip for getting your awareness going are finding other independent authors like you.  My Twitter page has opened me up to a world of extraordinary authors and independent publishers, editors and the like.  The best part about networking with other indie authors is the amount of support we offer each other.  Just a few days ago, I was approached by a fellow indie author about a giveaway.  If I donated a few of my books to his pre-launch giveaway, he would donate some to me when his book released for any venture I wanted to pursue.  I've also been able to approach other authors to have them guest blog on my site.  Sometimes when I promote on Twitter, my posts get "retweeted" by other indie authors with a suggestion to their followers to, in turn, "follow" me, and I return the gesture as often as I can.  It's a fantastic tool to help expand your fan base, and these authors often have tons of experience under their belt that they're more than happy to share.  If I tweet a question about how many books to bring to a signing, I've got hits from other authors in minutes with suggestions.  The community feel is phenomenal, and being that these authors span across the world, the benefit of the connection is indispensible.

Public appearances, even online appearances, are a must.  Your audience has to feel they have access to you.  Book fairs and signings typically don't work as a marketing tactic.  They're good ways to mingle with your audience, but you don't tend to sell many books despite the fees you put out for tables and travel at these events.  I would still suggest attending book fairs, however, because selling books, in this particular instance, is not the focus.  "It's not?" you may say; no, it isn't.  Participating in the book fair is, again, about networking.  There are hundreds, sometimes even thousands, of other independent authors, literary agents, and publishers in attendance at these fairs.  Exposure alone is worth the table, even if you don't sell one book.

Network your local area.  Your hometown is going to be more supportive than any other.  Local newspapers love a success story about "one of their own", and if you promote yourself just right, maybe your local paper, radio station, or maybe even cable news network will want to do a small piece on you and your book.  Again, finding you has to be easy, so you'll want to have a website to direct all your interest.  Also, don't discount the best foremost authority on books in your area: your local library.  Offer a few books free as an incentive: "If you buy five books, I can throw in two for free."  Offer to do one or two appearances as well; it's an added bonus for the library, and you get to meet some supportive locals!  The video to the left on networking for writers offers some amazing tips you can capitalize on.

Compile a list of book reviewers; don't discount the online magazines and freelance book reviewers.  Do your research and find the mailing or email addresses for inquiries and submissions.  Make sure you follow the instructions posted or given for submitting your manuscript for review.  Most reviewers don't take work earlier than three months prior to its release date, or more than eighteen (18) months after so be mindful of your time frames.  Be open to feedback; every review won't be positive.  Glean from each review what you can to make your next work better.

Finally, consider web-based book launches and tours.  There are a lot of sites who offer webinar capabilities for free.  Try http://www.anymeeting.com/ for free webinar services.  Also, web-based book tours are the new industry standard.  Like virtual book launches, there's hardly any cost involved, and your promotion lasts months after the tour is over as new readers come across your guest postings and recorded interviews on their favorite sites.  You can try Pump Up Your Book or Virtual Tour Cafe to get you started.  These sites do charge a nominal fee to organize your tour, but as a new author, this is a priceless tool; it will be very difficult to forge the necessary relationships it would take to make a tour successful as a new author.  Dale Beaumont, one of the foremost authorities on author publishing, gave an informative talk on virtual book launches and tours (see video above).

Take pictures and save copies of all the appearances, interviews, and reviews you do and get.  Not only will you have those positive responses to forward to future marketing prospects, but it adds to your credibility as an author.  Post these reviews and pictures to your web page or social networking site.  Let your audience know how fun it is to meet and greet them!  Appreciate your readers and reviewers; they make or break your career.

These are certainly not the only methods there are.  Again, Google promotional and marketing tactics for new self-published authors and see what works best for you and your project.  Take whatever starters you can from this post, and happy promoting!

So You Want to Write a Novel Intro
So You Want to Write a Novel: The Idea
So You Want to Write a Novel: Writing
So You Want to Write a Novel: Editing
So You Want to Write a Novel: Publishing
So You Want to Write a Novel: Marketing

Next post: Choosing the Right Self-Publisher

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