Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Book Promotion Advice from Pros

Barbara Vey wrote a blog post on Author...Promote Thyself. I found several of the comments very interesting.

Leah commented:

As a former book publicist, current editor and always avid reader, I've seen a number of sides of the publicity angle. The #1 priority for writers is to write. The best publicity you can have is a whole shelf of books, preferably *really good* ones, at the bookstore and releases that are 6-8 months apart to help you build an readership. Everything beyond that is gravy - though always very much appreciated.

It's true that book publicists are swamped. I typically had 8-10 books a month to publicize, usually through a combination of advertising, pushing to reviewers, and pitching to media. Keep in mind that the bulk of the promotional money a publisher spends is actually in the bookstore, getting placement in the tower or on front tables or maybe in the bookstore newsletter or through incentives to get the store to order more copies. It's hard to discern, but it all goes back to books on shelves being the best advertising.

I found that the more an author was willing to pitch in on the promo end, the easier it was for me to build on that and help out. That said, it doesn't mean you want to dump on your publicist a list of 50 bookstores and say you want her to arrange signings for you. ;-)

Marty Olver commented:

(I do PR for a series so that the author can find time to write and keep a day job!) One thing that can help is to try to focus your marketing efforts on specific targets. You should note that MySpace and FaceBook are largely unspecific...and reaching a mass market can be daunting unles the masses have already heard of you. So try thinking smaller and more targeted.

Identify what we call a "verticle market". What special interests pertain to the storyline? Perhaps travel or sporting activities are enjoyed by the character. Then search on the Internet for forums directed to just those interests. (In our case, divers and travel agencies) Besides posting to these visitors in the forums, I also Google conferences designed for divers and for travel agents. Then I offer the conference organizers a free signed copy of the novel as a doorprize for the event. The audiences at conferences can reach 300 or more people interested in YOUR TOPIC. When your novel is held up at a raffle at the conference banquet, you might have 300 captive visitors tuned in to your gift. (Make sure you send along a short paragraph describing the storyline.) Only one conference attendee can win the doorprize, but others will be piqued. Hopefully you'll spark dinner-table conversations. Good luck to all of you.

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