The closer I get to the release of my first novel, the more anxious I grow thinking about how best to promote it.
Ironically, I have an MBA in Marketing. I’m also responsible for running campaigns and events on my day job, so you would think I would have some idea about how to approach a book launch. But no amount of classes or business experiences have prepared me for this next step in my journey to publication.
Writing a book is personal. It’s much easier to suggest creative ideas when someone else will be doing the presenting. Knowing I must be the front woman in this campaign has me waking up in the middle of the night, pulse racing, thoughts spinning and panic flooding my body.
How the heck do I do this?
“Isn’t there a template for this?” I asked this question recently of some of my critique partners. “I mean, millions of books are published every year. Hasn’t some smart author figured this out already?”
“Nope,” they said. “Not that we know of.”
“So what are you going to do when your time comes?”
“We’ll just watch what you do.”
Uh-oh. Now we’re all in trouble.
Why is it so hard?
The more I explore ideas and collect information, the more I realize that there are SO MANY ways to promote a book, even the “industry experts” can’t agree. And the market is shifting, so tried and true methods don’t necessarily work anymore. Here today and gone tomorrow, as the saying goes.
For instance, more readers than ever before are reading their books online. This is much different than say, twenty years ago, when print sales still had the largest market share. And recent reports talk about the popularity of audio books. How the heck do I make one of those?
And what about blogs? I still remember the first time a writer friend explained the concept to me. That was many years ago, when the popularity of blogs was exploding. Last year at a writer’s conference, the speaker stated that blogs don’t generate traffic like they used to, and she wouldn’t recommend spending time on them. Every time I post mine, I question its relevance. Who am I reaching with this post? Will they buy my book when it comes out?
Although I can see by my stats that I tend to have some readership, the number of visitors stays about the same from post to post. What does that mean? Should I quit?
If I had a million dollars…
I don’t. But I recently asked this question on a marketing expert’s site: If you had $1,000 to spend on promotion, what would you spend it on?
The answer I got back? “I wouldn’t spend a cent. Save your money.”
Hmmm. I’d like to that’s for sure. But I can’t imagine I’ll get away with it entirely, can you?
What to do?
Any day now, I’ll be getting my preorder link for Mind Waves from the publisher. While I don’t have a solid plan on paper, I do have a few ideas:
- Write the Next Book — I know, seems contrary. But the faster I write the next book and the next one after that, the faster I build a following. So I can’t slow down on the writing, even while I’m promoting book one.
- Do a Cover Reveal — This one is a no-brainer. It seems natural to want to share my cover and a pre-order link in a big reveal. I’ll set up a Headtalker or Thunderclap and ask my friends on social media to participate. I’ll purchase Facebook ads to spread the news far and wide and build my profile on Goodreads. I’ll blog, and maybe I’ll ask a few other writer friends to feature me in their blog. I’ll experiment by commenting on a beach glass site I belong to — since beach glass is featured heavily in this story, it seems like a good idea.
- Introduce a Newsletter — I’ve been slowly building an email list. Those folks will get my news first. And something special to make them glad they’ve subscribed.
- Create a Book Trailer — Think movie trailer but for a book. I’d like to do several versions, featuring sites and sounds from Cleveland, and then share them over time via social media. Sounds fun, right?
- Launch a Street Team — This is a group of supporters who want me to succeed. These folks will help me spread the word and be rewarded with free copies of my books and other special deals. If that sounds like you, let me know! A lot of authors use a private Facebook group for this, but I may use email, since not all my supporters use Facebook.
- Ask for Reviews — I’m told reviews are hard to acquire. But I’ve already had a few friends commit to doing one. Anyone on my street team who does a review will receive a FREE e-copy of my book. This is a non-shareable copy but is a great deal for anyone willing to post a review. I also have a list of review sites I’ll email. And I’ve purchased a Net Galley membership for September. This is a site that provides the book free to readers willing to post a review.
- Get Out and About — This one gets me all tingly with excitement. Nothing makes me happier than meeting new people and talking about my book! I have three Cleveland locations lined up to host book signing parties, but I’ll work to host a whole lot more this year and next. I’ll discuss what motivated me to write a paranormal romance, tell a few ghost stories, and describe my journey to publication. There will be prizes, of course, some fun beach glass giveaways, and anything else I can think of to make this a not-to-be-missed party.
Beach glass candy seemed to be a hit at my first book reading, so perhaps I’ll make some more.
- Stock Local Stores — Okay, I’ll admit. This one is more ego than anything and will probably end up costing me money. A printed book purchased through a small publisher like mine is not cheap. They don’t distribute to book stores, so I’ll have to purchase the book myself and then mark them up to make any sort of profit. Although I receive a discount, I’m told the shipping cost is astronomical. But I do plan to invest some money into purchasing printed copies for book signings and to stock a few around town, especially in small book stores and gift shops that sell beach glass. If those sell well, I’ll stock a few more.
- Donate a Copy to the Local Library — This is a great way to give back to the community and make sure readers can find my book. Hopefully, they’ll like what they read and want more.
- Donate to Charity — I’m looking for a local, Cleveland charity to donate a portion of sales from each book. I’m interested in donating to food banks and hunger centers, so if you know a worthy organization, let me know.
- Pitching the Press — I’m hoping to garner articles in local newspapers and alumni publications from my alma maters. This is when it helps to have a sister who runs a newspaper and a friend who’s a reporter. And there are some great websites, like Cool Cleveland, I might approach.
What won’t I do initially?
Pay for blog tours or other advertisements. I’m going to wait a bit before considering anything costly. The marketing guru may be right. After all, this is a business. It would be smart to understand my revenue before shelling out big bucks for promotions.
So there you have it. What am I missing? I’m sure there’s something…scratches her head and tries to calm her racing heart