Think Outside the Book

Cheryl Kaye Tardif, author of Whale Song, The River and Divine Intervention is my guest blogger today. She says:

I am a “Shameless Promoter”. In fact, I enjoy promoting my novels and helping others learn to do so, and I speak at writers’ conferences on this topic. I am even known as “Shameless Promoter” amongst my peers and many in the book industry, and it’s a name I wear proudly. As an author, promoting my books is my #1 responsibility after writing them. I partner with my publishers and distributors, and that’s the way authors need to see this-as a partnership. Now, enough of me. 

Most authors, when faced with the daunting task of promoting their books, think of the most obvious ways–book signings and via their website. I’ve discovered that it’s crucial to the basic survival of an author to “think outside the book!” We’ve all heard the phrase “think outside the box.” This simply means: “Be creative!” Don’t get stuck in a small rut of small activities that lead to small results. 

Dreaming big has led me to much success. And it can for you too! 

My motto for years has been “Dare to Dream…and Dream Big!” And I tell people, “If that doesn’t work, Dream BIGGER!” I’ve been a published novelist since 2003, and all of my novels have gone on to be bestsellers on Amazon in the US and Canada . They’ve also attracted a lot of film success. Why? Because I thought “outside of the book”. 

In 2006, I partnered with a screenwriter and we wrote the screenplay for my critically acclaimed novel Whale Song. This led to writing a movie treatment. I had never thought I’d be writing either, but as soon as I pursued this, opportunity knocked. A film producer in Canada wanted to see the screenplay. While he eventually turned it down, this experience taught me that I must see further than a book on a store shelf. Frankly, that used to be my dream-seeing my books in bookstores. I’ve now come to realize that the real dream is to see those books MOVE off those shelves and into the hands of avid readers. 

So how do you reach the multitudes and market your books to them? 

Think outside…okay, you should have it by now. Instead of thinking “bookstores” as your main market, think “consumers”. You want to reach your readers, those wonderful people who will become fans of your work and email you every time they read one of your books. So go where the readers are! 

You’ll find booklovers on MySpace, Facebook, Goodreads, Shelfari, LibraryThing, AuthorsDen, AuthorNation, NothingBinding,TextNovel, Chapters Online Community and hundreds of other websites. 

What do you do once you’re a member of these sites? Network, make friends and shamelessly promote your work without being pushy. Being genuine is far better, and if you’re like me you’ll enjoy making new friends. For more information on how authors can use online social networks, please check out my 5-part article on exactly that: 

How Can Authors Use Online Social Networks? 

How else can you “think outside the box”? 

Have you contacted your local book clubs? What about nonprofit organizations? Maybe you could partner with them and help them raise funds by donating a portion of your proceeds. Could you benefit from a corporate sponsor? What about trade shows, special events and library talks? And have you held a virtual book tour (VBT). I have a step-by-step plan on how to organize one at: Authors Tour the World with Virtual Book Tours

Have you checked out your local hospital gift shops, specialty gift shops?

You can learn more about me an my novels (Whale Song, The River and Divine Intervention) by visiting my website and official blog:

http://www.cherylktardif.com
http://www.cherylktardif.blogspot.com

Notes on Book Promotion

I was typing out a list of notes for book promotion to use for future articles, when I decided to go ahead and publish the notes. Perhaps they will give you some ideas.

1. Establish yourself as an expert in writing forums, but make sure you give “expert” advice. Too many people are giving writing tips when they should be taking them.

2. Go beyond writing groups to promote your books online. Look for blogs that deal with your topics and comment on them. Admittedly, it’s hard to find topics in novels, play every angle. And be cool — don’t push your book. That just gets you labled a comment spammer.

3. Decide who might be interested in your book. Find a unique angle in your story that might interest a targeted group of people. One woman used “women who loved football” as her hook.

4. Instead of a booksigning, have an event. Give a talk, address writing groups, bill your booksigning as a “coming-out” party.

5. Review other authors’ books and post the review in as many places as possible. After the review, include a brief bio or yourself, and include links to your work.

6. To see if you can set up a booksigning or event at Barnes and Noble, call to get the name of the events co-ordinator. Some Barnes and Nobles have group events for authors from independent publishers.

7. Have a cyber launch party for your book. Set up a group on Yahoo, Facebook, your blog, and invite all your connections. It helps to have a friend who will feed you questions if the party is slow.

8. Look beyond bookstores for your booksigning/event. Is your book regional? Perhaps the historic society or tourist shops would be interested. Does your character golf or fish? Check out golf shops and fishing shacks.

9. Carry your book with you. If someone asks to see your ID, show them your picture on the cover.

10. Do a literacy promotion like: “Kids who see their parents read are more likely to become readers. If you don’t know what to read, I have a book . . . ”

Okay, the tenth suggestion is a bit off-the-wall, but book promotion is about being creative and coming up with off-the-wall ideas. One of them might actually work.

How I Did My Booksigning

Christine Husom, author of Murder in Winnebago County published by Second Wind Publishing, agreed to share her book-signing experience. I’m sure you’ll find it as fascinating as I do.

To my fellow writers:

I had a book launching/signing last night at the local library, hosted by the Friends of the Library. The head librarian had asked me a while ago if I would be interested — of course I would!

To prepare for the event, I ordered 100 postcards with the book cover on the front and book info, publishing info and event details on the back. I sent out a number of the cards and also put stacks of them at the library, 2 local bookstores and at our family’s downtown business. I also had posters made and hung them in a number of stores and the library. I also put a press release in the paper (free advertising!)

The turn-out for the signing was overwhelming — I thought there were between 75 and 80 people, but 3 people today told me it was closer to 100. They had 60 some chairs set up and there were a lot of people standing and some were out in the hallway — they couldn’t get in because the back was too crowded. I was surprised by the number of people I didn’t know who were there and also some people I know only casually. I guess there are a lot of people who like book signings (and/or mystery novels). I thanked them all for coming — my family, old friends, new friends and future friends.

I wasn’t sure how to conduct the signing, exactly, so I told the group we could do whatever they wanted. I told them I was at a Tami Hoag signing and she read a passage from her book, then did signings. I don’t recall her answering questions, but it is possible she did. John Sanford spoke for a while about his life and interests, then took questions for a fairly long time before the signings.

No one suggested how to proceed so I asked them if they wanted to know why I wrote the book and how I got published, etc and they did. Then I took questions. They asked things such as do I write on a laptop or with a pen and paper, do I wake up in the middle of the night and jot things down, how did I choose the title, how long did it take to write, when will my next book be out, what is the next book about, etc. Then someone asked me to read a passage. I felt a bit tongue-tied and said “Feminine” instead of “Fenneman” (my character’s name) a couple of times. But I laughed and said, “See I didn’t think I would be able to read.”

My husband said he was proud of me — he said I was poised and genuine. I was grateful I had a podium to lean into. I donated a book to the library and they gave me a nice thank you card and flowers. They served cookies and fruit and juice. Not everyone bought a book, others bought two — one for a gift. There were some couples who bought one between them, others I think will borrow the copy from the library. But I did sell about 60 and gave another 6 to some family members and the library.

There were people who wanted their picture taken with me — that was different and very cool!!!

All in all, it was a great event. I am getting books into the local bookstores and also am selling some at our store. I sold four there today — three people had heard about the signing but couldn’t make it. I am planning to go to “Once Upon a Crime” bookstore in Minneapolis and see if they might host a signing. That’s where I saw Hoag and Sanford.

I felt a little dumb signing the books — I have an illegible signature, but my daughter said I should use that instead of trying to write my name so people could read it. One person told me, “no wonder you have to type” when she read my writing — touché.

I encourage all of you to have a signing. It seems to generate excitement and interest. I was told the attendees were very engaged in what I had to say and liked being part of the fun. Sometimes you have to get out of your comfort zone. I was not quite as nervous as I would have imagined. I was with a group of people who wanted to be there, for whatever reason, and I was glad and grateful they were there!

All the best,

Chris