It’s hard to believe but it’s now been a year since my first novel, The Perfect Blindside, was released. At this anniversary milestone I thought I’d share a few of the marketing lessons I’ve learned. Maybe some of my tips can help others embarking on their own exciting journey into book promotion. Before publication, I had heard that marketing a book would take a lot of time and much of it was placed on the author’s shoulders. This was a daunting thought as I’m a bit of an introvert but I wanted the book to do well and share my message with readers so I was determined to plunge into the wonderful world of marketing. Of course some things worked much better than others but through it all I learned a lot.
1 – Book store visits – Opinions on the helpfulness of bookstore visits are as varied as the types of genres found in the bookstores. Some authors feel like it’s a waste of time. Others believe it’s a necessary evil, while others thrive under the chance to meet the public. I’ve had some successes with bookstore and library visits but two events in particular stick in my mind. It’s hard to forget the time I hauled my books on a 2 hour drive to visit a bookstore for a booksigning opportunity, only to have a snowstorm hit so the usual crowd of visitors never showed up. Then there was the speed dating like event. Several authors were invited to go from table to table to share about their books with patrons. Though event had great success in the past that particular night only one person showed up. It was frustrating but actually turned out ok – all the authors shared info, marketing ideas and even bought each other’s books.
TIP – You need to do some events to get out there in order for people to know about your book. One author I met at an event shared this wise advice with me: Always bring something to work on – editing, working on a rough draft, answering emails, etc. Then if the event’s a bust it won’t be a complete waste of your time.
2- Radio Interviews – Disclaimer – so far I’ve only had two. This is something that makes me nervous so I haven’t pursued many but I did make myself get out there and try a few. The first was on a morning talk show – short, sweet and very professional. The other however felt more like the sinking of the Titanic. It was with a FM radio DJ, whose job is to be entertaining. He tried to be funny by teasing and joking with me – which may work perfectly fine for someone who can think quickly on their feet – unfortunately that is not me. It was painful (probably more so for me than the listening audience) but a learning experience nonetheless.
TIP – Interviews can be an excellent way to reach a lot of people. But before agreeing know not only your audience but also your interviewer – find out their style and interview format.
3 – School Visits – At first I was terrified at the prospect of speaking to a bunch of middle school students. What could I possibly say to this intimidating group of kids? I hated speaking in front of a class when I was in school, why would I want to relive that experience? But when an opportunity arose to share my story with a class, I forced myself to say yes. And to my complete surprise – I enjoyed it. I’ve done several school presentations now and the one thing I can count on is the unpredictability. Sometimes the kids are really interested and ask a lot of questions, other times they sit politely and say not a word. But it’s all worth it when you see that one student excited by your presentation.
TIP – Be prepared! In case no one asks any questions have some interesting facts or a funny story to share. If you’re using technology for a presentation, have a backup plan ready in case something doesn’t work. You don’t want a mass of middle schoolers getting restless.
4 – Social Media – Social media is a huge part of book marketing. I’ve been trying several different sites –Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, and Instagram. After chatting with some author friends I’ve found that everyone seems to have a different favorite. One friend generates a lot of visitors to her website through her Pinterest posts. Another friend has wonderfully witty comments that seem to work well on Twitter. And yet another who loves to take photos prefers Instagram. Personally, I’ve had the best results through interacting with people on Facebook.
TIP – Try several different ones for at least a year to find out what works best for you. We all have different strengths and talents so it makes sense that different media outlets will work better for different people. Following other authors to see what they post and share can generate ideas for you.
5 – Reviews – There are an incredible amount of books on the market these days which makes it very difficult to get yours noticed. Reviews are a great way to spread the word, especially on Amazon and Goodreads. Whether we like it or not Amazon is a major player in the book selling business. The more reviews your book has on Amazon the more your book will show up as a suggested read. But getting those precious reviews can be difficult. I was amazed how many good friends and family members who liked the book were nervous to write a review for some reason. Ask but don’t pressure. Another effective way to reach potential readers is through book bloggers and online reviewers. A quick internet search will lead you to a host of people willing to read your book and post a review for their readers.
TIP – Join up with other author friends to review each other’s books. If possible, before your book is released come up with a list of people who could write reviews for you on Amazon or Goodreads. If you do search online for reviewers just make sure to look for ones that like the kinds of books you write.
6 – Time Management – It’s such an exciting time when your book is finally published but suddenly you go from working on one novel to performing a complicated juggling act. If you’re writing more books your time is now split between writing, editing, and marketing. Each new book is like adding a new ball to the juggling routine because each project needs time and attention.
TIP – For me the trick has been to schedule specific time for each item – a few hours in the morning for writing, an hour in the afternoon for contacting new bookstores and bloggers, twenty minutes in the evening to post on the various social media sites, etc.
As writer’s we have a story to share. Whether we publish through a publishing company or self-publish, getting our stories out to potential readers is a crucial part of our job. However, this often is not an aspect we think much about or have a desire to work on. Most projects in our lives have a conclusion or end result but with marketing there is no end point, which can be frustrating. But don’t fight it. Once I realized it was never going away, I looked at it differently. I decided just to do a little every day and suddenly it didn’t seem as overwhelming or frustrating. We are lucky to have that incredible tool called the Internet which has an abundance of articles out there full of marketing ideas. Have fun exploring!