This week’s topic is book promotion. As many of you may be aware, I am currently working on promoting my next book, The Ghosts of Peppernell Manor, which will be released on April 28th, so this topic has been on my mind lately. Actually, it’s been on my mind constantly. Even when I sleep.
When I first started writing, I had no idea how much work is involved in getting books into the hands of readers. I assumed that once a writer had a contract with a publisher, the writer could just sit back and wait for the royalty checks to start rolling in.
I couldn’t have been more wrong. While that scenario may be a bit closer to the truth for superstar writers (does anyone recognize the name John Grisham? How about J.K. Rowling?) who sell gazillions of books, the vast majority of writers toiling to get their names out there have a tremendous amount of work to do. I am one of those toiling writers, and this is what works for me.
1. Website and Blog
If you don’t have a website and/or blog, get one. Give serious thought to getting both.
I use WordPress for my blog, as you may have noticed. It’s free (you can pay for extra services, but I don’t) and once you’ve set up your blog the way you want it, it’s really very easy to publish your posts. There are other blog hosts, too, such as Blog.com and Blogger.com, but WordPress happens to be the site that works best for me.
I use Wix for my website (http://www.amymreade.com). Wix has tiers of services with accordant fees; I use the free service. I do pay for my domain name because it looks professional and is very inexpensive. Since a website is where your readers (and potential readers) connect with you, learn about you and your books, and contact you, it’s a necessary part of your marketing repertoire. It cost me a bit of time and a hint of frustration to design my website myself, but I didn’t have the money to pay someone else to do it and I love a challenge. I’m pretty pleased with how it turned out.
Once you have a website, periodically check to make sure your links work and that you keep it updated with fresh information.
When setting up a website, you should have a way for readers to contact you. I suppose you don’t have to, but I would strongly recommend it. And I would also suggest that you set up a separate email for users of your website, rather than putting your personal email out there for anyone to contact you.
2. Social Media
I am on Facebook (http://www.facebook.com/amreadeauthor) and Twitter (http://www.twitter.com/readeandwrite), but there are a number of social media outlets you could use to promote your work. Try any or all of these: LinkedIn, Pinterest, Google Plus+, Tumblr, Instagram, Flickr, and Vine. The list gets longer every day.
And if you only have a personal Facebook page, consider a Facebook fan page. It’s a quick and easy way to communicate with the people who want to know more about your books.
I can’t tell you how many people I’ve met through Facebook and Twitter that have books coming out near the time of my book’s release. Many of these writers have books being released by my own publisher! When I find someone like that, I reach out to them and offer to cross-promote. It can be a great way for an author to get some exposure on another blog, thereby opening the door to lots of potential new readers. The possibilities are many: you can write a guest blog, do an interview (those are my favorite), host a giveaway, have a quiz, play a game, etc.
4. Author Swag
The first time I mentioned “author swag,” my family looked at me with utterly blank expressions. Then I said, “You know, postcards, bookmarks, stuff like that.” Then the lightbulbs went off and they got it.
It’s nice to have something handy to give to someone who’s interested in my books. I keep a stash of postcards in a special pocket in my purse and if I meet someone who wants to know more about my books, I simply give them one. No searching for a piece of paper and a pen to write down my website or blog (this is especially useful this week, since a package of Junior Mints melted in my purse a few days ago and the goo is all over everything).
And bookmarks–everyone can always use another bookmark. If you have pictures of some or all of your book covers on it, that’s great for readers who are new to your work. They don’t have to look far to find the names of your other books.
5. Promote Others
Always remember that an unending refrain of “Buy my book! Buy my book!” on your social media pages and on your blog is annoying and probably self-defeating. I know I’m not alone when I say that I am drawn to authors who promote other authors. For every tweet about my own books on Twitter, I try to promote at least five other authors. For every Facebook post about my own books, I repost and share at least five to eight things that other authors have put online. The very best place I’ve found for selfless promotion of authors is at http://thestoryreadingapeblog.com. And when I promote others, I find that they very often return the favor. It’s a win-win.
Do you have other ideas? I hope you’ll share them below.
Remember I told you last week that I wrote a guest post for Fifty Authors from Fifty States? Well, two commenters won copies of my books:
Congratulations to Mary Deal, who won a copy of The Ghosts of Peppernell Manor, and to Cara Marsi, who won a copy of Secrets of Hallstead House. I hope you both enjoy the books! If you didn’t get a chance to visit Fifty Authors from Fifty States, you can go there anytime for my virtual tour of the Island of Hawaii (aka the Big Island). You can find it http://annettesnyder.blogspot.com.
Until next week,