Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Promote that Book!

Last Sunday I was the Featured Author at the monthly Sisters in Crime/Los Angeles meeting. That means I read for five minutes from one of my books. I think it went fairly well. At least, I didn’t hear any snoring!

The majority of the meeting was taken up with a presentation by book publicist Liz Donatelli of Liz D Publicity. She spent part of her time explaining what a book publicist does and the rest talking about what authors can do themselves to promote their work. Here are some highlights from the talk. 

  • Advertising v. Book Publicity. The two are not the same thing. I don’t remember ever hearing this explanation before, but it makes sense. Advertising is paid exposure such as taking out an ad in a magazine. Book publicity is free media exposure like social media posts, articles in local newspapers, etc. As a book publicist, Liz doesn’t deal with the advertising end. 
  • Be seen, be available, build a fan base.
  • No effort is too small.
  • Promotional materials such as bookmarks and postcards are a must. People want them. Carry them with you at all times; you never know when you’ll meet someone who will be interested in your work.
  • There are no hidden secrets to book publicity. We all wish there were, but there’s nothing you can do that will guarantee book sales. Produce a great product with as unique a hook as possible.
  • A website is a must. No surprise here. The pages an author should have are: (1) a Books page that includes book covers and descriptions as well as purchase links; (2) an Author page that includes a short bio and picture; (3) an Events page where you list in-person and online events; (4) a Media page that includes links to reviews, interviews and articles. Don’t list every review and be sure to keep the site up to date.
  • Social media is necessary. Facebook, GoodReads and Twitter are the main platforms for authors with the first two being the most important. An author should have a Facebook page separate from a personal one. She recommended posting 1-2 times per day. For twitter aim to tweet, retweet and reply to tweets ten times per day, 80% informative and entertaining, 20% promotional. (I shrug my shoulders when I hear how many posts and tweets I’m supposed to be doing. First of all, if I’m following someone and they tweet 10 times/day, I’ll probably unfollow them. That’s too many times for me. I realize I’m probably in the minority here. And, if I tweeted that many times plus did all of the other stuff I’m “supposed” to do, I’d end up not getting any writing done.)
  • Don’t rely solely on your publisher to promote your book.
  • Do joint events with other authors. It’ll bring in more people. In my opinion, it’s also more fun. And if the authors are having fun, attendees will too. 
  • Do both online and in-person events.
  • Work your contacts. Who do you know who will/can help you contact your readers? Be creative.
  • Be patient and don’t compare yourself with other authors.
Ultimately, as authors we have to decide what kind of promotion and the amount of it that we do for each book. Balancing promotion, writing and real life can be tough. What works best for one author may not work for another.

So, Type M readers, have any of you seen a book promotion activity you found particularly interesting/creative? Is there any promotional activity that you find annoying?


Nancy Silverman said...

Book promotions drive me nuts. I think the term that needs to go along with it is patience, patience, patience. And in the meantime, keep writing. Without product, there's nothing to promote and by the time a promotion does kick in, it seems the book launch is long since happened. That said, what's a writer to do? It a step by step process. Each event, book signing, reading and posting reaches someone and you never know when it's all going to come together and you suddenly appear like an overnight sensation. Which of course, we, who toil away writing in our PJ's and through missed social events, know it's not. Thanks for the post. All of them are good ideas and should be part of every writers arsenal of things to do once their book is written.
Best of luck with your new book, Sybil.

Susan O'Brien said...

Interesting post! I agree with what you said about the number of tweets, Sybil. I would probably remove someone from my "lists" if they tweeted that often. Thank you for sharing these perspectives! Oh -- and my tip for new authors: Order waaaaaay more bookmarks than business cards! People love bookmarks that are well designed and well made. I order mine, which are especially sturdy, from Overnight Prints, and I make sure they have rounded corners.

Sybil Johnson said...

Thanks for the good wishes, Nancy. I have to admit that book promotion drives me a little nuts as well. And patience is definitely needed here!

Susan, I use Overnight Prints as well. I'm curious, why do you make sure they have rounded corners?

Anonymous said...

Great post, Sybil! Thanks for sharing.

Ritter Ames said...

Fabulous information. Thanks so much for posting this! And I'm loving reading the comments the post is eliciting, too. Great job!

Maureen Kovach said...

Thank you for some great tips and ideas! And thanks Ritter for sharing this with your Facebook friends.

J.B. Hawker said...

Helpful info. Thanks so much.

Susan O'Brien said...

Hi, Sybil. You asked about bookmarks with rounded corners. I like how they look, and I also find that square corners poke me and get bent. I decided that if I was going to spend money on marketing, I wanted to invest in something people had a good chance of keeping, using, and enjoying. Final tip: I buy long pretzel treat bags at Michael's (a craft store) and fill each one with a bookmark and an individually wrapped treat (especially chocolate). Each bag closes with a silver twist-tie. It is a cute giveaway at events. I also gave them to parents on Halloween (when they accompanied their kids trick-or-treating), especially since my books are mysteries with a parenting theme! :)

Sybil Johnson said...

Those bags are a great idea, Susan. I'm stealing it now. :-> I especially like you passing them out at Halloween.

Tiffany Yates Martin said...

This is great info--thanks, Sybil. I agree on Twitter--I get so aggravated at Guy Kawasake for blowing up my tweetdeck! ;)