Wasn’t that a great series we had going all week? If you missed it, go back and read the blog posts from November 5-9 and you’ll be treated to some fascinating stories from interesting novelists. You’ll meet bestselling author Margaret Brownley; author of a charming humor mystery series, Wendy Dager; long-time writer turned novelist, Hope Clark; budding novelist and award recipient, Kathleen Ewing and a novelist with some interesting titles and stories to match, Raven West.
Today, I’d like to talk about book promotion. I hear from authors often who say, “I can’t get out to promote in person,” “I can’t afford to travel and speak at conferences,” “I hate social media and don’t understand how to promote that way,” or “I don’t know how to go about getting book reviews.”
You know, as an author, you should pursue many avenues of promotion. In one week, for example, you might talk to a few people you meet about your book, post two or three blogs related to the theme or genre of your book, ask someone to post a review of your book at Amazon, leave comments on a couple of related blog sites and set up a book signing at an appropriate specialty store.
There are hundreds more ways to promote your book. However, you don’t have to do it all and you shouldn’t try to do it all. But it is important to tap into the opportunities that arise at any given moment. And I urge you to train yourself to recognize the opportunities.
It is also important to have a plan. You hear people tell you and you read in books and articles how important it is to identify your target audience and know where they are and how to reach them. When you follow this advice, you will have a much better idea of which promotional activities to pursue. Choose a couple to start with. If they are working for you, expand on them, if not, change your technique or move on to another promotional activity.
Give each activity time. I’ve had people ask, “How do I know my efforts are working?” This can be a valid concern, especially if your book is with a publisher. Then you are not receiving orders. The best measure of sales in this case is your royalty statement. You can also go to amazon.com and check on your book’s rank and sales at Author Central. But if you are the publisher, you know exactly how many books are going out. And this is the case with most pay-to-publish contracts, as well because you are responsible for placing and selling your books.
Okay, so what about this confusing, complex thing called book marketing and how does one successfully engage in it? My best advice is, as I said, know your target audience, their shopping/reading habits and so forth. Do your best to address them in your promotion. And also try a few (not too many at a time) promotional activities and see how they go. Continue those that are working and discontinue those that are not. Don’t try too many intense things at once. You’ll wear yourself out. But you do want to have several avenues for promotion and sales.
If I were to help a novelist set up his or her marketing plan, I might suggest that they include the following: (And these activities might be pursued all at the same time or staggered—depending on how much time you have and the response.)
• Build a website.
• Blog at least a couple of times per week.
• Submit stories to publications your audience reads.
• Solicit book reviews.
• Get out and speak to your readers—maybe once a month to start.
• Send announcements about your book out to your massive email list.
• Sign up for a book festival in or near your community.
• Establish a few social media accounts and use them.
• Place books in appropriate bookstores, gift shops and specialty stores
To learn more about the publishing industry and your role within it, order my book, Publish Your Book. For a complete guide to book promotion, order my book, Promote Your Book. If you need help or want more information/guidance in public speaking and communication for authors, you must read Talk Up Your Book. All available at http://www.matilijapress.com and, of course at amazon.com and most other online and downtown bookstores.