This article was written by marketing consultant Sia McKye.
Your book is published, either by a traditional publisher, or a POD publisher, now what? How do we build a reader base? How do we get our name out there? Even if you don’t have a book published yet, what can you do to get your name out there before hand?
Promotion is a bit different than publicity. Publicity is largely free. Most of what I mention here is publicity. Promotion/Marketing is something you usually have to put out money for-sometimes you will get some funds from your publisher for that, other times it’s out of your advance from the publisher. Some authors pay a fees for certain industry website Ads, or a Bookseller’s list. Taking an Ad out in Regional and National papers, or in a magazine. Doing a tour of book signings.
I have friends that have been published, both non-fiction and fiction. Dr. Sy Garte, author of, Where We Stand: A Surprising Look at the Real State of Our Planet, made an interesting observation, “I have gone through this with a non fiction book. Here is what I learned. Most [publishing] houses have a dozen or so books coming out at once. The publicity department is always overwhelmed. If you are a new author, they might not invest the same time as they do for an established author…don’t expect too much marketing investment for a first book, but try to push for as much as you can.”
Dr. Garte’s book is non-fiction, and much of what he says is from his experience as a published author within that arena, but the information, from what I’m hearing from published fiction authors, is true for both fiction and non-fiction markets. Bottom line here is that as a new author you will be spending a great deal of time doing both publicity and marketing for your book. This will be almost full-time on your part for at least the month before and two to three months after release. The more contacts you have the better.
Building a reader base, and getting name recognition is a must. Blogging, industry website presence, personal author websites, and to a certain extent, social networks are a good start. This is where an unpublished author can start building name recognition. Do you have a book trailer? Where can a reader see it? On your personal website? YouTube?
Networking also includes, local libraries-get your books in the general area Public libraries. This can be done by donation. High School libraries are the same although some are extensions of the public library. Look at your local newspapers can you ask for a review of your book. Gina Robinson, author of Spy Candy, mentioned Book Reading Groups. Getting the lists for those would be advantageous. Ms. Robinson told me she also signed up on booktour.com to promote her various book signings. She’s also sent out hundreds of post cards listing Spy Candy’s release and for upcoming scheduled book signings, to every contact she can think of. Judi Fennell, author of In Over Her Head, uses RWA conferences and functions to get her face and name known, she has entered numerous contests and done very well-in addition to her website and blog.
Don’t discount friends and family in your networking. Many of them are proud of your accomplishments and would be willing to pass out your bookmarks-which should have the cover picture, a blurb, author website address, and your publisher website. An important piece of information to include is where readers’ can purchase your book. Are you on Amazon, Borders, and Barnes and Noble? Bookmarks should be colorful to catch the eye. If you get promotion books from your publisher, which most authors do, whether they are published traditionally or POD, send them out to your personal network to promote for you-especially, if they live in another part of the country.
There are even small community papers that allow a person to write an article. Authors should use their writing abilities here too. Then there are the local radio stations that give free spots for community people and talk shows that will give locals some time for interviews and plugging of our books. Authors need to be aware of these venues.
Local bookstores can be approached with books in hand and your bookmarks. Are there other local authors in your area? Could you approach a bookstore with the idea of a local author’s book signing? Once we get our foot in the door, it will snowball.
So what are you doing to get your name recognized? What successes are you seeing?