Happy Labor Day!!
I wanted to post today about ideas that can work for us when it comes to promoting our writing. Not all these ideas will work for every single person, and some may work better than others, depending on the type of writing you do. If you write for kids, you may have better success with personal visits than if you write adult nonfiction. But I believe there are tips and ideas in here that every writer can use with success at some point or another. Because there are quite a few, I will break this post into two separate articles, the second of which will be posted next week.
1. Interviews: Whether you’re able to get a radio, TV, or print spot on your behalf, interviews can be an excellent way to not only promote your work, but also to promote yourself as an author. People are more likely to buy from you when they feel they know a little about you. As you allow your personality to shine through and make a genuine effort to connect with your audience, that can go a long way toward book sales. An added benefit is when the interview is connected to, and points the audience to, an event that is soon to take place with your book, like a book signing or a speaking event.
2. Book signings: Books signings have met with varying degrees of success for most authors. Popular authors can always generate a crowd, so they can set up national tours and have lines of people waiting for them when they get to the bookstore. But for most of us “average” or beginner authors, we need more help to draw the crowds in. As mentioned above, if you can arrange an interview ahead of a book signing, that will boost your book-signing audience.
Also, realize that it is going to be up to you to promote your signing, and don’t wait for the bookstore to do it for you. If you can start promoting 2-3 weeks ahead of your signing with fliers, Facebook/Twitter announcements, postcards, word-of-mouth, etc. you will see much bigger crowds than if you left it up to the bookstore promoters.
3. Magazine articles: It’s amazing to me how many authors neglect this very rich soil of book promotion. If you wisely target magazines that are relevant to the book you’re promoting, you will have a built-in, captive audience to which you can market your book. Some magazine publishers will offer to let you promote your book in your closing bio instead of paying you for writing the article; some will let you promote and pay you too! If someone is interested enough in your topic to read your article, there’s a good chance they’ll also be interested in your book.
Also, you can use the magazine space to publish an excerpt of your actual book. In this case, you’re not doing any extra work, so if you don’t get paid, it won’t be a huge deal. And the benefit is that the readers are now getting a firsthand glimpse of part of your book, which should entice them even more to buy it. When you consider how large certain magazine readerships are (and you should target the largest ones you can), this is really a big bang for your buck (especially since it’s not costing you anything).
For those who write for children, consider writing articles for industry magazines, or trade magazines that target issues your children’s book may deal with. You can also write for newsletters that different children’s organizations or even writers’ conferences may publish.
4. Postcards: Postcards can come in two forms–direct mail postcards that show up in a person’s physical mail box, and e-postcards that show up in an email inbox. The downside of the first type, is, of course, the expense. It will cost to get them printed and delivered, although you can print them yourself with the right software templates and graphics packages. But there is still an expense involved. The upside is that is can make more of an impact when someone actually holds the card in their hand instead of it being viewed on the computer and being only a click away from being deleted.
Postcards work best when they are sent out as part of a marketing mix and not just by themselves. They can be used as a follow-up, for example, to a larger internet push you did a couple of weeks back. Or they can be used as a reminder of a speaking event you are holding in conjunction with your book promotion. You can also give them away at book signings in hopes that people will pass them on to others, or as a reminder of an event that is to be held at a future date after the signing.
Postcards can be more useful to people and therefore, stand a higher chance of not being tossed, if you put something worth keeping on the back side (a calendar of your events; an activity that may tie in to your book, like a recipe or a kids’ game, etc.)
5. Establishing partnerships: This works best for nonfiction books, but I’ve known some fiction writers who have gotten very creative and come up with organizational partnerships for their novels, too. Find nonprofits or various organizations that provide a natural tie-in for the topic covered in your book, and approach them about working with you to help promote the book as a resource. Many writers have hit the jackpot with partnership promotions as the organizations will make the book available on their website, advertise it in their publications, and take it with them to sell along with their own resources when they travel to industry events.
Partnerships are worth investing some research time into, as they can pay off with huge dividends if you find partners who are willing to work on your behalf.
Come back next week when I’ll discuss speaking engagements and online marketing! In the meantime, I’d love to hear your comments about what marketing efforts have and haven’t worked for you.