How do I tell the world about my books?

These days changes in “what’s hot and what’s not” in effective book promotion are swirling past so quickly that any author could be pardoned for wanting to throw in the towel or scream. (But hey, why did you begin writing in the first place? Isn’t your writing worth telling people about?)

Okay, so we all admit promotion is necessary, and there are gazillion avenues open to any author. Problem is — what methods work best?  More to the point, what is going to work best for you, and you, and me?

First, realize that what we face isn’t all that different from the advertising and promotion problem faced by many businesses like “Sloppy Joe’s Hamburger Heaven” and “Beetle Boynton’s Burgers.”  Sloppy may gather funds and do a coupon mail-out. Beetle, less well funded, hires his nephew to stand on the street corner dressed like a hamburger and wave a sign:  “Most Popular Burgers in Town.”  Which works best?  Only Sloppy and Beetle know, and, possibly, neither will be willing to admit something did NOT work, though they’ll sure tell you if it did.  Whatever–they know they have to promote and get their name out in front of the public.  Quiet anonymity does not make for a successful business, no matter how delicious the hamburgers.

So, here we are as authors, knowing we have to promote our work. And, these days, we’re sitting in front of our computer screens, faced with gazillion (well, almost) opportunities to connect with the world at large.  There’s blogging, facebook (and attached groups–I’m on six of these currently), twitter,  linkedin,  Booktour, Booktown, Goodreads, Authors Den, Skillpages, Bestsellerbound, and . . . .   And, of course, there are a multitude of additional promotion opportunities and ways to get your name out on lists appropriate to every type of writing. For mystery authors there’s DorothyL,  for example, and, more subtly, Sisters in Crime, Senior Sleuths, and Murder Must Advertise. And there’s still a lot more.  How about promotion avenues on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, plus, plus,  (add your own).

Who was it said “What’s a body to do?”  It used to be fairly clear-cut. Large publishing firms in New York prepared publicity,  and funded (in some cases) author tours. They saw to submitting for reviews in important places.

Smaller publishing companies have been around for some time, and their authors got varying degrees of promotion help, but not usually a funded tour. In all cases, it has been a good idea for authors to prepare publicity packets with author info, photos, reviews, blurbs, etc. and hand them out to media, bookstores, and any other venue that might be interested in promoting or selling an interesting author story and/or an author’s book. It has always been  a good idea to travel to bookstores as much as a budget will allow. It was (and is) important to follow up mail (or e-mail) contacts with phone calls, and to connect with civic organizations, church groups,  and libraries in a reachable area and offer to talk at a meeting.   These mostly “old-fashioned” promotion ideas are still worth exploring.

But, how about the explosion of promotion methods and venues made available via the Internet? As a person who enthusiastically joined any number of available Internet groups and lists as they came along– at least until recently–I can say, “Stop, Look, Listen.” Yes, lists appropriate to your writing are important, partly because they share ideas. Ask those on Murder Must Advertise (or a list related to the type of writing you do) what promotion methods have worked for them. Or, if  reluctant to do that, especially if you are new, just join lists and read them. Conversation there  is almost guaranteed to get around to questions and answers about various types of book promotion.

But you can’t do it all.  Try, adapt, and, when necessary, drop what doesn’t seem to work for you or (admit it) a method that drives you crazy. Find what’s comfortable for you and your type of writing, and push that to the limit, but not beyond reason. Believe me, if you end up wanting to throw in the towel or scream (see paragraph one) then it’s time to sit back and evaluate.  Promotion is essential, and it can and should be enjoyable or at least comfortably possible. Why not enjoy chatting on line, much as you would over lunch with a friend? Read what others say in blogs and elsewhere, notice their concerns and interests, then comment on anything that sparks an idea or matching interest in you.  In other words, use yourself as a test for what works and what doesn’t when it comes from someone else’s promotion effort.

KNOW YOURSELF.  KNOW WHAT YOU FIND MOST ENJOYABLE AND MOST VALUABLE IN YOUR OWN WRITING. (WHY DID YOU WRITE IT IN THE FIRST PLACE?) THEN GO OUT AND SHARE THAT WITH YOUR FRIENDS ON BLOGS AND IN BOOKSTORES, ON FACEBOOK AND AMONG FEATURE WRITERS, IN LIBRARIES AND ON LINKEDIN.  IF YOU VALUE WHAT YOU WRITE, YOU ALREADY KNOW IT’S WORTH A LOT OF WORK TO SEE THAT OTHERS FIND AND READ IT.

And, oh, yes — Get a web site.    http://www.RadinesBooks.com

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