This time last year, I had an unpublished book languishing in a Word document on my computer and absolutely no idea what to do with it. Even after I found a publisher (Octane Press – my white knight of a small press) I still had no idea how to get the word out to anyone other than my friends and family. Panic set in –
Oh my GOD – no one is ever going to read my book. I am going to be a loser, a failure as a writer and as a human being.
Oh my GOD – people are going to read my book and hate it. I’m going to be a laughing-stock. A cautionary tale to would-be writers everywhere.
This was my frame of mind when I first sat down to talk to Susannah Greenberg (of Susannah Greenberg Public Relations). I told her upfront that I had a Facebook account I had set up only because a friend had made me. That I was afraid of the word “blogger.” And by the way, could she explain to me what an “ARC” was because I kept hearing that word and I had no idea what it meant . . .
Needless to say, Susannah had her work cut out for her. But she took me by the hand and led me straight into the world of Book Publicity. Today, my book is not only published, it has been reviewed on over 50 blogs (including The Pioneer Woman), and magazines (like Austin Parentwise). I have done interviews, Giveaways, Waiting-on-Wednesdays, blog tours, book festivals, a book trailer, Comic Con, book signings, and Twitter chats.
I now know what an ARC is. (Advance Review Copy)
It has been one heck of a year. And while I still do not profess to being the End-All-Be-All-Of-Knowledge-Concerning-Book-Publicity, I have learned a lot and my hope is to pass on some of that knowledge to you – so that you won’t have the same panic moment that I had. Here’s a list of tips:
CREATE YOUR OWN WEBSITE TO SHOWCASE YOURSELF
Create a kick-ass website. This is easy to do these days on Word Press or Blogger. It’ll be your calling card, so make it awesome, but resist the temptation to clutter it up with so much “stuff” (buttons, etc) that people are unable to find basic information about you. The most prominent stuff on your website should be: your name, a way to contact you, the name of your book(s) and a link to buy your book(s).
BECOME ACTIVE ON SOCIAL MEDIA SITES
- Susannah had to drag me kicking and screaming to Twitter . . . but I’m so glad she did! It has put me in contact with so many authors, bloggers, and reviewers – I can’t even imagine publicizing a book without Twitter now! Plus, it’s loads of fun and I’ve met lots of real-life friends there.
- Do be careful not to overextend yourself. Keeping up with social media can be a fulltime job in itself, so don’t spread yourself too thin. Pick a few sites that you are comfortable with and devote yourself to building up your following there.
BLOGGERS ARE YOUR FRIENDS
Bloggers are a fantastic way to get the word out about your book. Before you have ARCs available, query bloggers to feature you on their “Waiting on Wednesday” posts to get some buzz going. When your ARCs are ready, offer review copies to your favorite bloggers in exchange for honest reviews, and make yourself available for Giveaways, Interviews, Follow-Ups, etc. Look at the blogs they follow to find more blogs that might want to review your book.
- THE VEIL’s very first blog mention ever was a Waiting on Wednesday post (on I Read Banned Books)
AMPLIFY YOUR OWN MEDIA COVERAGE
Amplify all media coverage you receive by cross posting on your website and your social media sites (with links).
- Reviewers often cross post their reviews to Amazon/Barnes & Noble/Goodreads etc – and if they don’t do it on their own, ask them!
CONSIDER HIRING A PUBLICIST
You can write The World’s Greatest Book, but it won’t go anywhere if nobody reads it. Consider investing in some professional help to jumpstart your publicity efforts.
- I would have been lost without Susannah. She was recommended to me by my publisher, so I had no qualms about hiring her. But make sure you do your research, get recommendations from people you trust, etc – make sure you’re hiring someone who can really get the job done.
LOOK FOR FREE STUFF
Be on the lookout for opportunities such as Readers Favorite (they will review your book for free and post their reviews to social media). Other free resources I have used include: whohub, Quibblo and Amazon Author Central
If you have a book trailer (highly recommended), there are a lot of places that will post it for free: YouTube, Blazing Trailers, Book Trailers.net, and Preview The Book. (Don’t have the money to create your own trailer? Contact your local film school – film students often need projects and they won’t charge you as much as professionals.)
DON’T SWEAT THE BAD REVIEWS
Do not let the fear of getting a bad review stop you from getting your book out there. Believe in your book. Believe that when people read it, they will like it and spread the word. Get your book into as many hands as possible for reviews. You’ll get some bad ones – we all do. But don’t let that hold you back.
- Celebrate your good reviews by circulating them far and wide on social media and thanking the reviewer. Ignore the bad ones – everybody gets them, even really big-name authors whose books are bestsellers. It’s part of the business.
OTHER AUTHORS ARE YOUR FRIENDS
As far as support, learning about your craft, publicity and plain old friendship, nothing beats an author group. Join or form one (or two!) today. We’re all in this together!
- I don’t know what I’d do without my “The Place” girls (my Austin writers group) or my new group The Indelibles. Authors need other authors to stay sane!
YOUR LOCAL INDIE BOOKSTORES ARE YOUR FRIENDS
Get to know your local indie bookseller! They can be a huge resource for you, publicity-wise (plus, indie book people as a general rule tend to be awesome, so why not go introduce yourself?) This will likely be where you will do book signings, launch parties, etc so approach with a smile and an ARC and do your part to promote them back on your social media sites.
- I *HEART* my Austin indies – Book People let me throw my launch party in their store (here are some pics) and The Book Spot has been awesome with helping me promote (they even put The Veil on their “Best of 2011” list – my first book award!)
Be yourself on social media and in interviews. A witty, well-behaved and grammatically correct version of yourself, but still yourself. If people like you – the real you, not some weird, fake version of you – they will likely enjoy your book as well.
BELIEVE IN YOUR YOURSELF AND YOUR BOOK
Do not be afraid to approach that Big Book Blog or that Big Book Festival and ask them to promote you. Sure they might say no – but they also can’t say “yes” unless you give them a chance! Go for it!
- I never would have thought a blog as big as The Pioneer Woman would have any interest in my little book . . . but they did! (Check it out HERE)
Now that you have a following, use it to do good! Tweeting/Facebooking/Google-plussing about yourself, day and night, gets boring anyway. Why not shine a light on a great cause?
- There are lots of deserving causes in the book world. I organize book donations for an underserved school on a Navajo reservation in New Mexico (Chrissy’s Classroom) and last year I gave away an ARC on Read For Relief, benefitting Hurricane Irene relief.
DON’T FORGET TO KEEP WRITING!
You most important job as a writer is, of course, to write. But it’s easy to forget about that in the whirlwind of publicizing a book that you’ve already put out there. Put the necessary time into publicity, but don’t let that get in the way of your number one job – getting your next, brilliant book out there (so you can start doing publicity all over again!)
Thank you to Susannah Greenberg of Susannah Greenberg Public Relations
And to the following awesome authors who also contributed ideas to this post: