As a published author, I receive a lot of inquiries about promoting and marketing because my name is everywhere on the Internet. New authors want to know how I do it, and aspiring authors want to know what they can expect once they do get published.
What follows is a mixture of tips which I hope will be as beneficial to you as they have been to me.
1. Use postcards. Mail them to bookstores, media, friends, family and even your neighborhood. They’re cheaper to mail, easy to create and take less time than putting together a complete publicity kit. It’s a better way to gauge interest. 2. Keep track of your promotions. Just as you use a manuscript tracker (hopefully) to keep up with where you submit your manuscript, you need to know where your postcards have gone, which stores you’ve called and if you need to follow-up. I use an Excel spreadsheet with columns indicating the name of the contact, how contacted, date, response, if follow-up is required, etc., but you should customize it to fit your needs. 3. Don’t just look for obvious ways to promote. A friend of mine wrote a book about running a French Country Inn with her husband. Guess where her book sells really well? Wine shops. She thought outside the box as what goes well with French cuisine—wine. 4. Don’t take no for an answer especially if you believe your book would be a good fit. This isn’t giving you carte blanche to make a pest of yourself, but persistence is a required trait for any author/publisher. 5. Bookmarks aren’t the only choice for promotional materials, and there are only so many bookmarks that a reader can use. Be creative. Think of things your readers might be able to use. Pocket calendars with your book covers replacing the image, book cover magnets (holds pictures on the fridge), photo boxes with your book cover as the top picture in the lid (used for storage) or even key chain holders, mugs with inserts or charms for bracelets or necklaces. These work especially well if there is an object in your book which takes center stage like a sword or amulet. Most of these ideas are inexpensive but effective. 6. Stock your library with promoting/marketing books and read them frequently. Take notes. Try different avenues. Some of the best books on the market today are 1001 Ways to Market Your Books by John Kremer, Jumpstart Your Book Sales by Marilyn Ross and The Frugal Book Promoter by Carolyn Howard-Johnson. 7. Once published, make marketing part of your daily schedule. If you can make time to write, you can make time to promote. I can get a lot of promoting done in as little as fifteen minutes. Things like updating my blog, addressing five postcards, sending a press release out to at least five different media contacts, checking in with my Yahoo Group and posting to another can all be done in that amount of time or less. 8. Cultivate readers. Don’t treat the people who buy your books as nuisances or people you have to communicate with. Instead, show them the gratitude and respect they deserve. Because of this tip, I had a reader offer to place promotional flyers about my books in a local chain bookstore six states away from mine, had another offer ideas on things readers would like that are inexpensive and still another reader offered to help me with promotions. 9. To keep your name out in the public eye, write an article at least a month either for pay or for a byline only. I’ve had aspiring authors contact me over a year after an article was published to thank me for the tips. 10. And finally, keep track of what promotional activity is working and what isn’t. This is where your spreadsheet can come in handy. If you sent out twenty postcards to bookstores and didn’t receive a response, try a phone call to the next twenty bookstores. Also, switch things around every so often so the same media contacts aren’t getting media releases every month from you. One month send a postcard, the next, send a photo release.
These tips have all helped me over the past few years, and with each book published, I add to my experience. And I realize, promoting has to be an ongoing occurrence or the sales will diminish.
Work hard at writing your book, but work harder at selling it once it’s published!