I have a giant treat for you. As a grand finale to the indie publishing series, Valerie Biel, my SCBWI colleague and the author of Circle of Nine: Beltany, has written an amazing article on promoting your book.
Looking ahead—this Friday, just in time for the holidays, I’ll be posting my annual big book review issue. (You must read it. I’ll be giving away some amazing books!) And next Tuesday, I’ve got a fantastic tip to help you get ready for your best writing year ever. (As well as an end-of-year book coaching offer to support you in getting that book written!)
Rochelle, the Write Now! Coach
While promoting your book should be an ongoing process, what you do during the 30 days leading up to your release is crucial to getting the attention your book deserves. To keep this from being overwhelming I created a step-by-step approach, dividing the tasks into the following categories.
EARNED MEDIA (Free Publicity)
1. Write your book launch press release.
Once you have your main press release ready, you can tweak it to fit different media outlets. Make sure (especially to reviewers) that you offer a complimentary copy of your novel upon request. Attach relevant photos (author photo/book cover image) to the email. Here’s my sample press release.
2. Identify the local, regional, and possibly statewide media that might write a story about your book, its release date, and your launch party if you’re having one.
+Newspapers & Magazines – Research staff to see if there is an assigned book editor or reviewer. If you have an angle that makes your book perfect for a magazine on a specific topic, make sure to contact them as soon as possible. Most magazines will finalize their issues at least one month before the release date.
+Radio/TV – Are there shows that feature local writers? Find the names of the host and/or producers of these shows. Stations often have many segments to fill each week. You may end up with a great slot!
1. Decide if you will have a budget for advertising.
2. If you do, research where this money might be most effectively spent. Consider the genre of your novel and look for websites or publications that specifically feature your type of story (young adult, mystery, self-help, etc.) There are many websites that for small fees ($20 and under) will promote your book to their subscribers. Remember that advertising specifically to readers will give you the most impact rather than general advertising. (See resource list at the end of the article.)
SOCIAL MEDIA MARKETING
I am assuming that you have long ago created your website or blog and have a presence on Facebook and other social media sites. You may be comfortable with more, you may be comfortable with less—but at a minimum you need some sort of online presence that provides your biographical information and info on your book and that allows readers to interact with you and you with them.
Communicate with your followers frequently as you count down to your release date:
1. Create book giveaway contests. (Be sure to check the rules on the different sites you are using.)
2. Tease the readers with excerpts of your book to build excitement.
3. Encourage your readers to interact on your blog or Facebook page by asking them questions. (To enter one of my Facebook novel giveaway contests readers had to answer “What magical power do you wish you had?”)
4. If you are on Twitter, consider using a scheduling service like Hootsuite or Tweetdeck so you can focus on this once per week. This way your book promotions continue even when you are busy doing other things.
5. You might also consider scheduling a blog tour. For a fee, tour organizers will coordinate a group of bloggers who either review your book, interview you, or offer you the chance to guest post.
6. Post your book release info on the websites and Facebook pages of writing groups and associations you belong to.
7. Finally, just like in the paid advertising section, there are many websites where you can also list your book for free. (See resource list.) Time will be your only enemy here as you decide how many fill-in forms you are willing to complete.
DIRECT OR IN-PERSON PROMOTION
Talk to your area bookstore managers, librarians, teachers, and book club organizers to set up events. It’s a great way to make yourself known in the community as an author and as a resource for discussions on writing, your book’s topic, and anything else from your experience in the publishing world.
1. Decide the driving distance you are comfortable with for planning events and create a list of the locations and contact information. For me this is bookstore managers, youth librarians, middle and high school English teachers, book clubs, writing groups, and writing conferences. Your list might look different, depending on your book’s audience.
2. Create a presentation packet that looks equally nice printed or attached to an email. Include a biography, book synopsis (blurb from your back cover), description of events you might do, fee structure for visits (if any), and your contact information. You can see my event page and workshop descriptions at: www.ValerieBiel.com/events
3. Decide how you will deliver your promo packet, by stopping in or emailing. Where possible I visit the location, often leaving bookmarks or promotional postcards when appropriate.
4. One important note on fee structure—it is always difficult to determine what to charge. Right now because I’m in promotional mode, I do author visits for free in a limited mileage range. Usually there is the chance to sell books at the event (especially at conferences), and I take that into consideration as well.
5. When you go on visits be sure to have someone take photos. These will be invaluable for future promotions and blog updates.
REVIEWS & CONTESTS
Submit your book to as many review sites and contests as possible. (See resource list below.) Contest placement and good reviews are invaluable to future promotions, creating instant credibility for your book. If possible, do these well before your 30-day countdown begins, but don’t worry if you haven’t done this in advance. It will give you good news to share and help you further promote your book after its release.
(Note: It will be up to you whether to pay for reviews or not. Reputable paid reviewers only guarantee that you will get a review—not that it will be a positive one.)
If you follow these steps in the 30 days prior to your book release, the resulting publicity will most definitely increase your sales potential. Remember—it’s up to you to make sure readers know about your book so they can purchase it.
Your turn. What’s worked for you? What didn’t work? What questions do you have?
+Book awards open to Indie authors.
About the author: Valerie Biel’s debut novel Circle of Nine: Beltany is a Gotham Writers’ Young Adult Novel Discovery Contest top six finalist. Her love for travel often provides the setting for her stories. Fascinated by Irish standing stone circles, Biel was inspired to incorporate their mystery and mysticism into a book for young adults. The story follows the path of 15-year-old Brigit Quinn as she learns she’s descended from a legendary Celtic tribe that serves as guardian of these stone circles. Click here to learn more about the book or purchase a copy.
Biel is a graduate of the University of Wisconsin with degrees in journalism and political science. When she’s not writing or traveling she’s wrangling her overgrown garden and doing publicity work for the local community theatre. You can learn more about her books at www.ValerieBiel.com.