Monday, August 17, 2009

What Kind of Promotion Works Best for Authors?

That’s a question that is asked a lot, but the better question might be what promotion will you be the most comfortable doing.

When approaching a publisher these days, most of them want a marketing plan submitted along with the manuscript–and the plan plays a part in whether or not the publisher accepts the manuscript. Probably you, as the author, will put everything down you can think of as part of your plan: bookstore signings, library talks, appearances before service and social groups and all the online venues you can think of.

Doing book signings is what most authors used to do and some still successfully plan and go on book tours. Though I do a few book store stops when a new books comes out, for me, that’s not my best promotion effort, unless I can give a talk along with the signing.

Anytime I can give a talk along with a signing, I know I’ll be more apt to sell books. That’s also why authors like to be on panels at writing conferences and conventions because if they can interest those in the audience in their book, it’s more likely to be purchased. However, going to cons and panels are not so much about selling books as meeting people, making new reader friends and getting your name known.

I like to do book and craft fairs too–but you must be brave enough to talk to the people who come by your table or booth or you won’t be successful.

With the Internet, there are many things for the more timid to do. Every author must have a Web site and the Web site needs to change from time to time. It should offer something to readers as well. Because an author should also have a blog, the Web site should be connected to the blog. Like the Web site, the blog’s content needs to change often.

A virtual book tour is one way for an author to promote that is really lots of fun. You can set up the tour yourself by finding blogs where you’d be a good fit as an author and asking if they’d like to have you for a guest during the time of your tour. If you don’t want to go to all that trouble, there are various blog tour professional you can pay to set up your tour. In either case, you must let people know when you’re visiting each blog which takes me to another thing to do, signing up for yahoo lists. It’s important to be a participant on the list though, not just pop in and out when you’re promoting something. Two good sites to visit and join are run by Dani Greer, our founding member here. Visit her Blog Book Tours blog for loads of information, and join her Yahoo!Group, the BBT Cafe, to chat with seasoned blog book tour veterans.

Twitter and Facebook are great places to pass the word about your latest book and what you’re doing.

There is so much available nowadays for promotion, even if you are painfully shy, there’s no reason you can’t find many ways to promote yourself and your book(s).

Marilyn Meredith is the author of over twenty-five published novels, including the award winning Deputy Tempe Crabtree mystery series, the latest Kindred Spirits from Mundania Press. Under the name of F. M. Meredith she writes the Rocky Bluff P.D. crime series, No Sanctuary is the newest from Oak Tree Press.
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  1. Good advice, Marilyn. It helps to narrow your focus too. You can't do everything. And you certainly can't if you want to also be writing the next book! You've listed some really good ideas that can be successful.

    Straight From Hel

  2. Wish I'd known about this site when my book came out in February. I drove myself nuts thinking I needed to do everything I could think of. This is wonderful advice. Now that I'm shifting into a comfort zone, I just need to find balance between marketing and writing new things.

  3. I'm jumping into the promotion faze of a new book right now and will be doing a variety of events, some in person and some online, through the end of the year. Looking for unique opportunities in your own region is sometimes productive. In our town, for instance, there's a well-attended holiday market the two days after Thanksgiving, and the last two years have included an author's room. A local farm and feed supply company is holding an event soon to feature local authors. And one independent bookstore sponsors a table and will feature an author at a large twice-weekly Farmers Market.

  4. Great column and I will add my kudos to Dani's fine work with the blog tours group. Even though I was traveling during a lot of the blog tour class, I learned so many useful things and made a number of useful changes to my blog, like adding a counter. I resisted that at first, but I'm glad to know now that I get 100+ visitors a day which was a complete surprise.

    I have had mixed success with readings and cons: I *love* reading and am told I read very well, but it surprising how few people will go to readings even by well known writers.

    Blog tours on the other hand seem much more useful.

  5. Great advice. And I'd add: never underestimate the power of links. Connect your network to make it easier for people to move from your blog to website from your website to a place they can buy your books, etc.

  6. Good advice, Marilyn. Remember when we first met in Omaha and talked about promoting. Sure was a lot different then, but I really like the Online promoting you wrote about here.

  7. Hi, Maryann, we do have some history, don't we? That was our first time in Omaha and we fell in love with the place and have been back every year since for Mayhem in the Midlands. A very good convention for mystery writers because most of the people who come are mystery readers.


  8. I tried selling books at our local summer fair. Only sold two, but I gave lots of flyers away, so maybe that counts as book promotion.

  9. I'm doing the Blog Book Tour right now! I have some book signings lined up, but there are only so many of them that I can do, since I have a 5 days a week job. It's important to attach promotion from both ends, but I find myself doing more Internet than personal appearances. Every little bit helps.

    Morgan Mandel

  10. that would be attack not attach. I type faster than I can think. (g)

    Morgan Mandel

  11. I think getting your feet wet with the book signings is the hardest part. ONce you do, it gets easier.

    I also think diversifying your marketing/promotion attempts will show you what you do well and what works. Great post!

  12. Good overview of book promotion strategies.

    I've written several articles that can be helpful -- see -- and an effective book author Website is so very important.

    Phyllis Zimbler Miller


The Blood-Red Pencil is a blog focusing on editing and writing advice. Some of our contributors are editors, some are authors, and some are writing sheep. Yes, sheep.


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