We’ve been talking about the beginning steps for someone who has a book releasing. The past two days we looked at some very basic things to help you start marketing your book. A few more thoughts (then I’ll turn it over to Amanda, who has MUCH more to say on marketing.)
A seventh thought: If you’re going to rely on social media, get some video together to help promote it. When you look at the growth of YouTube and other video-sharing sites on the web, you can see the direction advertising on the web is going. We’re a visual society, so you want people interacting with your words and seeing the big story. You may also want to at least consider buying web ads on the sites those potential readers visit. Don’t assume it’s too expensive until you’ve checked it out — those are basically cheap space ads, and some of them are seen by more people than the space ads in trade journals. (Again, you probably realize this, but many sites have “pay-per-click” ads, which cost nothing unless an interested reader actually clicks on the ad to read more about your book.)
Eighth, if you’re writing non-fiction, or your novel contains material that is related to news in some way, think about creating some articles and posting them. What you’re trying to do is to create buzz, of course. You want people to notice your book, to start talking about it, and to think of you as an expert in the field. There’s a bunch of information available on how to do this — Randy Ingermanson has talked about it on his site, and you’ve probably heard the idea before. If you were doing a novel that focused on a child abduction, you’d do a couple articles on child abductions and how to prevent them. You then post those on sites that draw readers interested in that topic. At the end of the article, it mentions you’ve done a novel. Or maybe in your article you mention some of the resources you used while researching your novel. Either way, you get the word out. And it’s free (except for your time).
Ninth, don’t assume your publicist has gotten the word out to all the necessary book reviewers and radio stations. The publicist may have done that…or she may not have had the time. Publicists are great, but they’ve all got a slew of books they’re working on, so make sure to ask, “Who received a copy of my book?” and “Who did you contact about my book?” It’s a completely fair question (though you may have to ask several times before you get an answer). The essential targets that didn’t get a copy should be sent one right away. (Oh, and be aware that most major book reviews require your manuscript be there about 5-to-8 months before publication. It’s a long lead time, so if your publisher didn’t make advanced reader copies or bound galleys, how are they ever going to review your work?) Getting in touch with radio stations is also important, especially for nonfiction titles. You may think that’s an old-fashioned idea, but it’s pervasive, there’s always a need to find guests to talk about the topics of the day, and now that there are web-based radio stations, the market has increased substantially. It’s usually a fairly low-ticket item to work with a freelance publicist just to notify stations about your book, so if your publisher isn’t finding time to get that done, consider making a call to a good publicist who can help with that.
Tenth (and last), think locally. That is, try to make yourself successful in your local aread. Drive around to all the bookstores in your area. Go in, hand the owner a signed copy of your book, and thank him or her for carrying it. Tell the owner a bit about yourself — this is a small industry, and making friends with bookstores can only help. Do the same thing with media in your area — introduce yourself and give them a book. The arts section of your local newspaper may be excited to have a nationally-published writer to interview. Think of angles — it could be your topic, or it could simply be the “local boy/girl makes good” approach.
I’ve never been a huge fan of book signings (they tend to sell few books and leave the author deflated), but if you do one locally, invite your friends, your family, and your church or other organizations you belong to, so that you get a crowd. Make it an event. Many large organizations and churches have newsletters that reach thousands — an article or an interesting interview (or simply a mention of your book) can garner you some attention with readers. What you’re trying to do is to create some success locally. If you can do that (particularly in a major metropolitan area), then you can begin to try and translate that success regionally, and, eventually, nationally. That’s exactly what several successful authors have done — establish some local success, then get regional attention, then hit nationally.
I realize this covers some of the basics, but I felt we needed to answer some of the questions people had about getting started. Marketing is hard, but it’s become an essential aspect of the writer’s life.