The best way to promote a novel is to get on the bestseller lists; people will buy the book simply because it is there. The second best way to promote a novel is word of mouth; the more people recommending it, the better it will sell. The third best way is to have a stable-full of published works. But how do you get there, especially if you have a single published novel to your credit? The problem may seem insurmountable, but there are things you can do.
The first step, of course, is set up a website, but promoting a website is just as difficult as promoting a book. You need people to come to you so you can establish a name for yourself, but until you have a name for yourself, they won’t come. (The entire publishing industry seems to be riddled with such conundrums, the most maddening one being that you generally can’t get published without an agent, and an agent doesn’t want you unless you are published.) The second step is start a blog if you haven’t already done so. Perhaps blogging is not the best way of promoting your book, but it is a beginning.
The key to blogging, especially on WordPress, is quality information, catchy titles, and lots of relevant tags and categories. And if you comment on other people’s blogs, sometimes they or their readers will return the favor, helping you build a reader base. The main advantage of a blog is that it is not static. Every time you post an article, you give people a reason to stop and look.
A blog can also serve as a website. Post pictures of your novel and you; give biographical information; include links to your website, Facebook and MySpace profiles; post excerpts and reviews of your work; link to interesting blogs.
Now, the big question: what do you write about? You can write about your published work, explaining why you wrote it and how you got the idea. You can tell about the things you learned while researching the book. You can write about your work-in-progress, especially if you are having difficulty with a scene. People love to help, and they will feel they have a stake in you and your work. Write about your daily life or things that make you angry. Write about the books you read. Write about anything and everything. Then add tags that people might Google to get to your article. If you tag add a tag such as “Uncle Bob”, it might end up as the one millionth “Uncle Bob” on Google, and no one will ever find your article. I would have thought tagging an article with “Cheetos” would be the same, but one blogger reported that she got more than a thousand hits because of it.
Besides considering search engines when adding tags, consider yourself. I want to start a separate blog as an online notebook for the articles I posted about my work-in-progress on my other blog, but I never tagged them WIP, so now I have to weed them out by hand.
If anyone has any other suggestions for beginning bloggers, be sure to let me know.
September 17, 2008 at 7:44 pm
Hey this is great advice. Someone needs to put it out there. Thanks!
September 17, 2008 at 7:55 pm
Great advice! I actually know several authors who are using WordPress to construct their entire websites, which is pretty cool. Promoting a book — especially your own — is really hard work, but the author has to be willing to do that work because, unfortunately, your publisher probably won’t. At least not in a meaningful way. That book is your baby and you have to do everything you can to help it flourish. 🙂