Posts Tagged ‘Wordstock’

Nineteen Things You Can Do To Promote Your Book

Self publishing unfortunately also means self promoting.

When I wrote my book I had visions of a publisher doing all the hard work of advertising and all I had to do was relax and count the money. Even after I chose to use POD (Publish On Demand), I still expected to only click the “finish” button, then my book was available on the internet, and again all I had to do was count the money rolling in.

It doesn’t work that way.

In order for people to buy your book, they need to know it exists. They need to know where to find it. This is especially true after the fifty or so friends and family have bought their copy and your book’s website goes dormant with inactivity because nobody else knows about it. It’s true for some authors that their book is so good that word of mouth alone is sufficient to get it off the ground. That is extremely rare.

For the rest of us mere mortals, however, once we’ve put in plenty of hard work writing and publishing our book, we need to work even harder to get it noticed.

The name of the game is to direct as many people as possible towards your book. It’s like trying to capture rain in a funnel and channel it into a bottle. First you need a funnel. That’s where marketing and promoting come in.

Marketing your own book may sound daunting, but it’s not impossible. It certainly shouldn’t be for someone capable of writing their own book and then jumping through all the hoops necessary to publish it. There are many, many things you can do to promote your book that don’t require large amounts of cash and a huge marketing machine behind you to pull it off. Here are nineteen things you can do to promote your book:

  1. Craft Your Book Cover Carefully: Sure you can use your POD website’s free cover creator application, but chances are the result will totally blow. Your cover is the face of your work and what should initially entice people to look inside. It needs to 1) capture attention, and 2) adequately describe what the book is about. You don’t need to hire a professional graphic designer to do this. Maybe you’re a good enough artist yourself. Maybe you know somebody who is and would be willing to do it for cheap, or even free. There are great websites out there that are communities of artists of all skill levels showing off their work. I went to DeviantArt.com and looked through the galleries until I found an artists who had created work similar to what I was looking for. I made sure he was a good artist, but not a professional (that is, had never done commissions before). I contacted him about doing a commission. He not only agreed, but seemed down right flattered that somebody wanted to pay him money to do what he loves. So, what would have cost me thousands, ended up costing me hundreds of dollars. Your cover should not only draw people in, it should also direct people where to go. Somewhere on the cover should be the website where your book can be purchased. How else will people get their own after seeing it on their friend’s coffee table?
  2. Give Out Free Copies: That’s right, give your book away. Just be sure to give it to people who will appreciate it the most and are most likely to tell others and generate excitement.
  3. Put Your Social Network to Use: Use Facebook to do more than send farkles and Mafia requests. Posting announcements to your Facebook, Myspace, LinkedIn, and what have you reaches a tremendous amount of people. Change your profile pictures to the cover of your book. Post links to where you book can be found.
  4. Email People: Not everybody has a social network where they post self portraits of themselves in bathroom mirrors. Send out an announcement to your entire email list about your accomplishment.
  5. Send Postcards: …and not everybody has the internet. I know, hard to believe, but it’s true. Or they have the internet, but don’t use it to communicate. It’s a great opportunity to print up some postcard sized promo sheets with information about you and your book. You can mail this to people announcing the availability of your book. A postcard laying around the house or office with your book cover and/or portrait on it gets more face time than an email on somebody’s hard drive.
  6. Create An Email Signature: Know that cheery quote or business contact information attached at the end of emails you receive from some people? You can do that too with information concerning your book. You can do this through your email account’s preferences. Also, some email accounts permit you to attach graphics. Attach a low resolution miniature jpeg of your book cover to the signature.
  7. Generate Reviews: Once people start reading your book, gently insist that they write a review at the book’s website. People are more inclined to buy a book if they see that others have not only bought it, but liked it enough to take the time to rate and comment on it. Reviews can also tell potential readers more about the book than the work’s official description.
  8. Register Your Book With Other Websites: There are many websites out there that celebrate all things reading. Goodreads is a great place to show off your book, especially if you already have a fan or two there.
  9. Create A Website: Your POD site and vending site have all the pertinent information concerning your book, but they can’t do everything. You may want to show extended samples of your chapters, you may want links to related material, you may want to show large amounts of photos and graphics, or you may want ordering information that is different for bookstores than for the general public. Basically, you want one centralized location that people can go to for everything concerning your book. You can dedicate a Myspace or Facebook page to your book, but again there are some limitations. If you are a graphic/web designer, you’re golden and can make your own. Otherwise, their are people out there who need to make a living by charging you a modest fee to do this for you. Don’t forget to list links to popular agents, publishers, editors and artists. If you scratch their backs, you will soon find that you will become one of the links attached to their website.
  10. Send Out A Press Release: Newspaper Book reviews and radio spots normally don’t occur because some media outlet employee was looking long and hard for material to use. Normally they receive press releases from intrepid individuals telling them they need to showcase this or that story. A press release is usually a one page, well crafted article that draws attention to your book by tying it into something relevant to the media’s target audience. You want them to contact you for more detail and feature your story in a future segment. For example, I contacted all the newspapers and radio stations in the regions in which I currently live, grew up and went to college. In the release I pointed out my connection to the area and how I took advantage of my joblessness due to the economy to finish my lifelong dream to finish my book and used POD to publish it. Basically, the press release stated: Local man turns poor economy into advantage with technology. Seeing your book cover in the pages of a newspaper is a good feeling. Learn how to formulate a press release here http://www.webwire.com/FormatGuidelines.asp
  11. Use Your Real Life Networks: Now days it’s easy to forget their is such a thing as networking outside the internet. We all belong to some sort of organization, whether it’s the work place, school, church, or YMCA. Tell them about your accomplishment and ask if you can advertise on their bulletin board or make an announcement.
  12. Make A Business Card: This is the item I find most useful. I printed cards that are the book cover on one side, and the book description and other information on the other. Essentially a miniature book cover. I’m always asked what my book is about and it is very simple to whip out a card and give it to interested parties. Now they know what the book is about and have all the needed information to purchase it. This is another reason you want a centralized website. A single info-packed web address fits easier on your card. Vistaprint is the undisputed heavyweight champion of inexpensive business cards.
  13. 13. Make Bookmarks: Even if people aren’t interested in reading your book, they still use bookmarks to read the books which they are interested. Nobody turns down a free book marker, especially if it has a cool picture on it. So what if it’s sticking out of some other book? It’s out there in the world being seen, which is what advertising is all about.

    14. Print up some T-Shirts: Make shirts with your book cover and a catchy tagline (like a movie poster). Give them away to people who work with the public. Be sure to keep one for yourself to wear to the gym.

    15. Flyer: Remember that postcard you made? Well, it comes in handy when you want to canvas every coffee shop in town.

    16. Make An Electronic Version Of Your Book: Kindle has been popular for a while now and iPhone and Blackberry users love to put all their eggs into one basket, including what they read. Expect this market to only grow with the introduction of Apple’s iPad. Convert your work to Kindle at dtp.amazon.com and other digital formats at Smashwords.com. My book can be found at both.

    17. Blog And Participate on Blogs: There are a thousand and one forums out there that discuss whatever your book is about. Everybody has something to say. You can join the discussion threads and occasionally drop your name and title of your work (just don’t over do it). Better yet, start your own blog. Yet another reason to have your own website. Keep fans up to date on what’s going on with your book while discussing pertinent topics involving your work. Offer writing, publishing, and promoting advice. This is where SEO (Search Engine Optimization) comes in real handy. The more you discuss a subject, the more it turns up in Google searches, the more people look at a page that has to do with your book. It’s all about catching those rain drops in your funnel. I contribute to an E-zine so I wrote an article analyzing the genre of my book while describing it’s plot and posted it there.

    18. Do Book Signings and Readings: This is perhaps where the rubber meets the road. You just plain need to get out, be visible, and interact with people and tell them about your book. You need to be a salesman. You need to set up a table at book stores and coffee shops and put your wares on display. Even if you don’t sale your book in the store, the owner/manager most likely will be happy to have a signing or reading because you will draw potential customers. Once you’ve published and become a bone fide writer, people treat you differently and are eager to talk to an author. Also, you will sale books at these events that will cover the costs of the posters, T-shirts, and book markers that you had made for the occasion. The real reward will be the viral buzz you’ve generated that translates to more on-line sales.

    19. Attend Conventions and Conferences. It’s almost guaranteed that there are conventions and conferences that revolve around whatever topic you chose to write about. If you wrote about quilting, you can bet there is a convention on all levels (city, state, and nation) where people gather to talk, eat, breathe, and just plain live quilting. Look into not only attending, but setting up a booth that shows off your book. My book deals with the realm of fantasy so it made complete sense to have a table at various “Cons” that cater to the science fiction, fantasy, horror, anime, manga, comic book and graphic novel crowd. Also, there are conventions that revolve around literature. Portland Oregon’s “Wordstock Festival” is one such celebration of the written word.

What I Learned at Wordstock, My First Writers Convention

I recently had a booth at my first convention and learned much. Though I have had book signings,

Wordstock: Portland, Oregon's Literary Festival for Writers

book readings, booths at festivals and bar-mitzvahs (OK, that last one’s not true), I quickly learned that a convention geared towards writing poses many opportunities. In addition, I honed the skills I use anytime I’m promoting my book. I’ve summarized all here:

  1. Reach out to people. Smile. Be positive. Don’t just sit there in your booth and hope people come to you. Say ‘hello’ as people pass by and ask how they’re doing. For some reason, some aspect of human nature almost obliges a person to come to your booth if you make eye contact with them. This may all sound hard, especially if you’re an introvert like myself, but trust me it’s easier than it sounds.
  2. Have your pitch (your 30 to 60 second book synopsis) prepared in advance. Don’t worry if you screw it up the first couple times, practice makes perfect. You’ll have plenty of more opportunities.
  3. Ask discovery questions. Find out what interests your prospective buyer, then modify your pitch on the fly to gear it towards their interests. In my case, for example, I’d ask if they are a fan of fantasy. If they say yes, then I’d go into my pitch that revolves around how the backbone of my book is a fairy tale and incorporates all the classic imagery of fantasy with a fresh twist that appeals to modern readers. If they say no, then I’d go into my pitch that revolves around the fact that my book is a character driven story and the fantasy element is a mere stage used to facilitate the drama of the people involved.
  4. Build it and they will come. Before you can give your pitch people have to first be attracted to your product. Your booth should look as professional and eye catching as possible without looking cheesy. Go the distance and invest in a banner and/or poster on easel. If you have access to electricity, consider a monitor hooked up to a laptop displaying a flashy multimedia piece. If you have access to the internet, use that same set up to show off your website associated with your book.
  5. Have meaningful material at your booth. Not everybody will or can buy your book right there on the spot, but make it possible for them to walk away with something. Have book markers, business cards, postcards, key chains and every other manner of swag you can think with your book’s ordering information. If you can afford it, consider T-Shirts and framed posters. T-Shirts are great because then customers can wear them and be walking billboards for you. Most importantly, don’t forget that your books themselves are advertising (that’s why it’s important to design a great book cover). Be sure to have neat stacks of them on display. If they can’t buy your book right there, or they think that someone else they know might be interested, direct them to where they can purchase it later. As mentioned earlier, try to have your website up and running for them to browse through, as the first page of your website should have all the locations and means for them to obtain a copy of your book. If the internet is not available, have a screen-shot print out of your website on display. If you can’t do that, have printed copies of a list of that pertinent information.
  6. Look the part. Look professional. This is not a job interview, it’s far more important.

    Your Appearance Reflects the Quality of your Work

    You’re not just selling yourself as an author, you’re selling your creation that is an extension of yourself. How you are perceived reflects on your work. If you sit in your booth unshaven with a pizza stain on your shirt, what do you think people will think of the quality of your book? This is especially true of indie published books which already suffer from a stigma of non-legitimacy. On the other hand, you may want to take a chance by incorporating your appearance into advertising. If your book has a theme to it, coordinate your dress to match. Rumor has it that Christopher Paolini, the author of Eragon, dressed up in a suit of armor at events to promote his work.

  7. Explore, walk around, and network. The whole purpose of a convention is to network with like-minded individuals and organizations. Look for opportunities to synergize and be inspired. Don’t abandon your booth and leave it un-manned, mind you, but get out and take advantage of the situation. That’s why it’s important to have help, someone who can mind the shop while you go on walk-about. Better yet, share a booth with another author and split the costs. At Wordstock I shared a booth with

    Sharing a Booth Helps with Costs and Can Create Cross-Over Sales

    my friend Alexis Mason, author of the wonderful children’s book Just An Ordinary Little Dog. Her book had nothing to do with mine, but our table was long enough that we had room to easily distinguish ourselves. In a couple weeks, on the other hand, I’ll be sharing a booth with author Mike Chinakos at Portland’s Orycon32 SciFi & Fantasy Convention. His novel, Hollywood Cowboys, about a demon-fighting 80’s hair band is a bit more in line with my fantasy novel and there is potential for cross-over customers who come to our table. While you’re walking about, visit booths with similar themes as your own. Chat the owners up and hand out your card. I actually sold several books this way. Look for resources that will further your cause. I’m looking forward to talking more to Blue Water Productions into converting my book into a graphic novel, or at the very least having artwork done to use in a “movie trailer” advertisement produced by Axiom Shift Productions. Attend the various convention activities whether workshops or lectures. I sat in on the lecture given by Graham Hancock, author of Fingerprints of the Gods, promoting his first work of fiction, Entangled. I met

    Author Graham Hancock Discusses Research Techniques that Went into His First Work of Fiction: Entangled

    him afterwards and told him his work had inspired much of the alternative history featured in my novel. He sounded interested and asked that I email him a reminder of our conversation and a link to the kindle version of my book so that he may download a copy. I was thrilled and even more so when he agreed to making a brief comment or review after looking it over (he hasn’t so far, but you never know, he may yet and in any case it was an inspiring moment that showed me a world of possibilities for future encounters).

So there you have it. Words  of wisdom to consider when you find yourself at a convention. Chances are you’ll find even more opportunities, and then you can tell me about them.

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