The Reality of Book Promotion

Joe Moore’s post yesterday on the effectiveness of book signings made me think about what does and doesn’t work as far as book promotion goes. With each book release, I try new things, ditch what doesn’t work and constantly look for cost effective ways to reach the largest number of readers. For my debut young adult release, I had a marketing strategy to launch IN THE ARMS OF STONE ANGELS that encompassed four pages of a varied promo effort directed at indie stores, libraries, professional organizations, online social media, my mailing list, etc.

Book promotion has changed over the years and the developments are coming even faster as we trend up in the digital world. I have an e-reader now too, which has drastically changed how I buy books and how I hear about novels that interest me. So how does the average author today promote their own book in this evolving business?

This usually translates to online promotion since it’s free (except for the time you put into it). Focusing your marketing and branding efforts online can be an effective means to get the word out to the right people. On my recent summer read tour with fellow Texas YA authors, we had a tour blog set up a couple of months prior to our events that garnered thousands of hits and counting. Old school thinking on group signings is how many books did you sell. New school thinking is about exposure, perception, name recognition and the number of online hits you get before, during, and after the event if it’s promoted effectively online.

A book signing might have ad promo and get people to come see you, but the exposure is greater online where a website’s traffic can be hundreds or thousands of hits a day with the post continuing to get hits even after the book signing event is over. And with a reader already online, they can click on a link and buy your book, or download a sample on their e-reader that might entice them to buy the rest of your novel. This doesn’t mean the book signing is dead. It just means authors have choices on how they spend their time. And some ingenious folks have devised a way for authors to digitally sign a photo taken at the event or their actual e-book. (Here’s one LINK on that.)

Online Marketing I’ve Found Effective:

1.) A professional looking website or blog – Blogs are free if money is tight and you can share the work by putting together a group blog, like TKZ. My website designer – xuni.com – specializes in authors. For great examples of websites with cool navigation, check out her portfolio.

2.) Twitter – Get to know your regional review bloggers. They can be great support.

3.) Other Social Media – I hate Facebook for many reasons, but there are other sites that could be more effective. I’m trying Tumblr now.

4.) Goodreads – If you don’t have an author page here, why not? It’s free and you can link your blog to your Goodreads author page to keep material fresh without much effort. Any Goodreads member is a reader and your target audience.

5.) Amazon Author Central – Did you know that you can update your own author/book page for reviews, book endorsement blurbs, post book trailer videos, etc.? If your brand is important to you, you may want to take control of your author page.

The simple truth is that most authors won’t see a great deal of promotion dollars from their publishers. You’d think that if a house were taking on a new author and book that they would include a certain amount of money geared for promotion, but the reality is that the publisher spends generic dollars on promoting their line of books or other authors’ work and hope readers will notice your book in the process. They rely on the author doing their own promotion. It’s quite conceivable that the average author will spend more to promote their book than their publisher will, especially given that houses are tightening up on advances and other expenses.

So as authors look seriously at self-publishing and e-books, it’s real tempting to cut back on the time consuming and resource depleting efforts to promote that detracts from the time you have to write. Time literally is money in this empowering new future, but having online marketing supports your digital sales. Many might think that simply having your book available for purchase online is enough and that money will roll in. For the average author, this simply isn’t the case. You have to try things to see if they work for you. Traditional houses are watching the self-published authors with solid sales and offering them contracts because they have a readership and a marketing platform that will come along with them. When I first sold, I had no idea how important my own marketing would become. Self-published authors today will know more than I did when I sold, but they will also have to weigh how important it will be for them to sell traditionally if it means giving up control of their copy rights and business decisions.

In my opinion, the number one best thing you can do—whether you get published traditionally or go the self-published route—is to write a good book. And in either case, you’ll need to build a readership, people who like what you do and will come back for more. Online promotion on various fronts is a good way to get the word out in a cost effective manner to tap into a marketplace of the savvy readers we have today.

For discussion, I’d love to hear. How do you find out about books you want to buy these days? And how important is it for you, as a reader, to make a connection with the author either online or in person? What are your favorite ways to do this?

Specifically for authors—aspiring, self-published, or traditionally published—what methods of promotion have you found most helpful? (Yes, aspiring authors should weigh in. Having an online website/blog presence is important for you, too.)

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FACEBOOK IS HERE TO STAY: A Great Medium For Free Exposure

By: Kathleen Pickering

I have seen three TV shows in the past week where characters mentioned Facebook. This fact cements in my mind that Facebook as a media tool is here to stay. So, my question is: Are you still not on Facebook?

If you’re like my mother, you are not, and never will be, on Facebook. (That’s a story for another time.) However, if you are a curious planet dweller with a story to tell, Facebook is a phenomenon not to be missed. It is the perfect tool for authors or artist of any sort. The ability to reach millions of people for free, and as personably as humanly possible on the Internet, creates an outrageous boon every author needs: Contacts! Lots of ‘em!

Writing Facebook BuddiesAuthor friends and fellow Facebook Buddies. Top L to R: Allison Chase, Nancy Cohen, Linda Conrad, Kathleen Pickering, Heather Graham. Bottom L to R: Traci Hall, Marcia King Gamble, Michael Meeske.

For those of us on Facebook, here are some quick tips I have learned to enhance your “Tribe” of friends:

For making friends:

When you offer and/or accept friend requests always add a note to the request, i.e., “Thank you for the friendship. Feel free to visit me at http://….” (or mention the topic that connects you as friends.)

Create Groups:

Build a tribe of your own with chat groups to discuss items relating to your business or areas of interests shared on Facebook. Go to your Message section and click on the “Groups” tab on the RH side. Then, click “Create Group” on the top. Send the group invitation to everyone on your Friends List. Be consistent with your Tribe with regular contact. Use your Group/ Tribe solely for relationship building and providing value to your group. Send them links to your blogs and videos. Note: Only promote business once per month, maximum. Your group is not for marketing; it is to establish you as an expert in your field.

Create Events:

When holding an on-line or on-site event and want to attract attendees, create this link. It is important that YOU be the Event Leader. It sets you apart as creative and reliable. Again, the Events link is found in the Message Section. Be sure to add an email contact for RSVP or inquiries. This is a great tool for building contact information. Tip: If you know how to build a Caputre Page for email captures, do not give the link to the event. Instead, set up a Capture Page for email captures to build your mailing list, then give the link to the event.

Tag Photos/Videos:

Take the time to “Tag” your friends in your uploaded photos/videos. This sends a direct link to their Facebook page as well as posts the photo/video on your profile page.

Create A Fan/Business Page:

Where your Facebook page is your social activity, your Fan Page is your business face. Both pages can be linked. (See Help Section under “Account”.)

Ideally, no more than 30 minutes per day should be all you need–either in the morning with your coffee or end of day before closing down business. If you cannot update daily, set a schedule that will work for you. They key: be consistent.

The more YOU reach out, the more you will attract visitors. Birthday announcements appear daily on Home page (right hand side). Send birthday greetings. (Stand apart from the crowd and use your computer’s camera to send a video and personalize your good wishes!) Respond with a quick reply to others’ posts, as well. You’ll enjoy the interaction as much as your friends.

Bottom Line: Facebook is your chance to shine and be recognized as unique among many by keeping a personal touch in the world of commerce. I have even gone so far as to place a Kathleen Pickering Welcome Video on my YouTube channel inviting folks to visit my Facebook page.

I invite you to visit me at http://www.facebook.com/kathleenpickering. Let’s be friends! If you know any Facebook tips, I’d love to hear them!

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