I don’t pretend to be a professional when it comes to marketing and promotion of books. I just got into this game last year, so I’m probably the least likely person to attempt to broach this subject with folks that have been doing this way longer than I have. However, as a I debuted some of what I’m calling passive advertising for my books earlier today (check out the samples in this post), I began to ruminate about some kernels of wisdom I could share with other writers about book promotion. Mind you, none of this is scientifically proven, nor have I conducted any studies to corroborate what I’m going to share here. These tips just come from my thirty plus adult years on this planet as a paying consumer of books, and my idea of how promotion can be done to keep me from annoying the heck out of my readership.
1. Don’t be Spammy on Social Media ~ Before I became a book writer, and thus, an entrepreneur with a product to sell, I hated spam. Now that I am a writer with a product to sell, I still hate spam, probably even moreso. Therefore, I struggle with the very idea of putting my book out there for purchase and asking my real life and social media friends to buy it. I had to talk myself into doing a lot of things I’ve never done before, like building a following, writing a blog, hanging out on social media sites. You have to strike a precarious balance with all of this, and there is no formula (or maybe there is and I’m just not aware of it). You have to do a lot of what I like to call organic interacting with your audience and not just bombard them with book promo stuff. Readers and fans know the difference, believe me. You have to know them well enough to discern how much is enough and how much is too much.
2. Cultivate Book Blog Reviews – This is an area that I’ll readily admit I suck in. There is no dearth of book blog sites out there that are ready and willing to rip your baby to shreds, or praise it to the highest heavens. You just have to be ready for the good, the bad, the ugly, and the indifferent (TGTBTUTI) when you go here. As I said, I have not done a good job of this. In large part, I haven’t done this because I haven’t wanted to deal with TGTBTUTI. You can call me a wuss or whatever, but I am that author whose debut on GoodReads got the ugly reviews that everyone fears. Sight unseen, book unread, I was rated harshly, called a few choice words, and then something miraculous happened: my book found a following without me promising my first born grandchild to one of the big book blogs. A woman whom I can only call my Fairy Book Goddess introduced me to a world of Book Clubs that I had no idea existed, let alone how to gain entrance. So yeah, I haven’t done the Big Book Blog Review thing, but I’m slowly moving in that direction, and hope to do a much better job of this when my second book is published.
3. Reciprocate/Network/Reciprocate – An author I admire whose short fiction workshop I took gave me the single most important advice I’ve ever received as a fledgling writer. She told me that as authors, we should embrace the concept of “paying forward.” By this she meant, we should do that thing that some fear. There are enough readers and book buyers to go around, so we shouldn’t fear promoting another author, sharing what we’ve learned, nor the act of pulling another fledgling writer up by their bootstraps. We all begin there, so do the karmic thing and help another writer out in any way you can. You will be rewarded for it. I belong to several promo centric groups where we share information, promote one another, and just provide an ear for one another. If you look at the authors who are in the best selling categories in our genre, you will find that many of them are part of these types of groups. If it worked for them, surely it can work for us.
4. Close The Sale – Primarily, I had to get used to doing what professional sales people do every day. Particularly, I had to learn how to ask for, or close the sale. This is a tricky thing in book sales particularly because it’s been researched and widely (or maybe not so widely) written that book consumers generally have to be “exposed” to your work several times before they will actually buy it. Favorable reviews help, having a professional engaging product helps, but the generation of buzz is the coup de grâce. Once buzz is generated by readers who are genuinely excited about your book, they will definitively help you close the sale. At that point, all that’s left for you to do, is to keep the momentum going by other organic ways of promotion like going on book tours, both virtually and physically, accepting live interview invitations on Skype, podcasts, and/or radio and TV talks shows. Once you get there, the sky is the limit and your name will be on bestseller lists galore.
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