Recently a friend, who had just published his first book, asked about marketing and promotion. We have learned a few things over the last nine plus years since our first book was published, and we’d like to share some of it with you.
- You must have a STRONG online presence with a dedicated website, blog, Facebook author page (we have two because one is specifically for our first book and geared toward our Japanese friends), Twitter feed, and Linked-in presence. (I have my Twitter feed linked to my LinkedIn profile, so whatever I post there goes to Twitter automatically. I am the queen of Facebook, but I confess I really don’t get Twitter.)
- Join Goodreads. Larry and I both have profiles. You must keep your content up-to-date. You can link your blog to your Goodreads profile, so each new post shows up there as well.
- Create an Amazon author profile, and make sure it is current and accurate. (I have to keep checking mine since there is another author with my same name.) Again, link your blog feed to your Amazon author page.
- All information posted on the above sites must be fresh to show up in searches. Update your blog at least weekly. (I didn’t post a new one this week, but that is unusual.) Write about writing, your life, your interests. This is another place, besides Facebook, where people get to know who you are. DO NOT just post excerpts from your book!
- Be sure to use keywords (with or without the hashtag) to make sure people searching for content can find you.
- Contact local bookstores, libraries, and other venues about doing book signings. (Most bookstores—if there are any left in your area—won’t shelve your books, even if you do a signing.) We have done a LOT of these without measurable return on investment, but you get name exposure. Think outside the box and look for different and unusual places to do signings. We have done a couple in art galleries with mixed results.
- I generally advise against hiring a publicist. However, I do recommend you ‘friend’ Penny Sanseveri on Facebook and read her content. We met her at a conference many years ago, and she is an expert on marketing. The information she posts on Facebook is free. So is her newsletter. And if you do decide to hire someone, I’d recommend Penny. She has a good reputation in the industry.
- Attend conferences. We have done some of our most valuable networking there and have made lifelong friends. What genre do you consider your book? Find a conference targeted specifically to the type of book you write. (I’m easily bored, so I have a hard time sticking with one genre!)
- Visit different locations where your book is set, and write off the expenses against your business. (We set our mysteries in Hawaii for a reason!) BUT you must write about the place, keep accurate records of your expenses, and be able to show the results of your trips in your writing. Keep in mind, both with conferences and travel, only half of your meals are deductible, and only the related expenses for the actual industry professional can be deducted.
- Enter contests. HOWEVER, do not pay outrageous amounts to enter! Contests need to be funded, and a small entry fee is reasonable, however, some of them charge ridiculous amounts.
- Get reviews on Amazon, Goodreads, and other sites. These boost your visibility.
- Run contests and publicize them.
- Assemble an email mailing list. Use it to send notification of your blog posts, new books, appearances, etc.
- Create a video trailer and post to YouTube. These can be done at virtually no cost using PowerPoint and MS Moviemaker, but they can attract additional interest. Be careful about using music, however. Using well-known music by famous artists can result in your video being blocked. There are sites with free music you can use.
- Post about your book and related events and topics on Facebook, but the caveat is this: Facebook is a CONVERSATION, so make sure you are interacting with other people and not just posting about your book! I have unfriended people whose only message is: buy my book.
- Offer to give a talk or lecture on your subject. Most places will also allow you to sell your book after your talk. These appearances will also establish you as an ‘expert’ on your subject.
- Contact local book clubs about reading your book, and offer to visit their meeting for a discussion.
- Get free business cards from VistaPrint. (You only pay for shipping). Be sure to include your website and contact email address. We write “Thank you” on the back and leave them with the tip whenever we eat at a restaurant. We also hand them out whenever we talk about our books with anyone. This is one of the cheapest forms of advertising.
- Treat your writing as a business, not a hobby. Keep accurate and complete records and report all income.
At this point in my writing career, I spend much more time promoting than I do writing. I managed to finish and publish The Memory Keeper in April. And I completed our latest romance anthology, ...And a Silver Sixpence in Her Shoe this summer.
In addition, I still edit professionally. I don’t know how to do straight line editing. I have to address content as well. So these are very time-consuming.
Even with LOTS of strategic promotion, you probably won’t become rich. You may not even break even. But you will have more fun than you can imagine.
Do any of you have any other techniques you have found to be effective?