AHA · Authors Helping Authors · Marketing

“On Promoting Your Book” by Charles Ameringer

Promotion Management with WordPressJust do it! It’s up to you. If you’re uncomfortable about tooting your own horn, get over it, because if you don’t, your book will sink into the vast ocean of eBooks never to surface again. You have to market your book boldly, broadly, and inventively; tell why you’re special and enabled and why readers should spend their dime and time on your work.

 

So, create a profile/author page with your picture, bio, cover image, and blurb and post it on Facebook, Amazon (Author Central), Goodreads, BookDaily, Wikispace.com, and Smashwords, and on your own website (GoDaddy and Web.com, to name a few , will help you set one up for a nominal fee). Follow up with on-going textual dialog on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Yahoo.  Solicit reviews from DLH Book Reviews.com, My Cozy Corner, Ask David, and Book Nosh , and post the returns on your profile/author pages (especially on Amazon and Goodreads).  After these preliminary steps, you’ll soon discover that Goodreads is a particularly useful promotional tool.

Join as many Goodreads book discussion groups as you deem appropriate and that you can handle. Some of the discussion groups are organized by general readers, such as “Goodreads Authors/Readers” or” Connecting Readers and Writers;” others are genre specific. For example, I have written a spy novel, so I’ve joined “Espionage Aficionados,” “Spymasters,” “Spy/SpecOps Group,” and “Langley Suckers.” These groups are divided into discussions and then subdivided by topic. All discussions include a topic such as “Introduce Yourself” or “I’m New Here.” Post your initial comment on one of them, and if you have a shtick/gimmick (like Beckel’s suspenders), use it; for example:

 Hello! I’m Charles Ameringer, an 86-year-old emeritus professor of history, who has drawn on his travels and research to write The Old Spook, a spy/thriller novel about a fictional CIA operative who interacts with real people and actual events in recent history on the global stage; he encounters rebel chieftains, Mafia dons, and KGB agents in Miami, Mexico, and Central and South America. Fans of John LeCarre and James Bruno will enjoy unraveling this mix of fact and fiction.

My shtick is my age; my emeritus rank provides gravitas; and the mix of fact and fiction is a bit out of the ordinary. Once the introduction is in, you can continue promoting on Goodreads and prospecting for reviewers and bloggers (to run tours and interviews), but be careful not to intrude on highly specialized topics.

I made the mistake of posting a comment on the topic, “Le Carre Society?”, remarking how LeCarre had influenced my writing. I was indignantly informed that the topic was not appropriate for promoting one’s book.. I immediately responded with an apology for overstepping my bounds, explaining that I meant only to express my admiration for LeCarre and that my protagonist was more like Alec Leamus than James Bond; more a thinker than an athlete. The apology was accepted, but I learned a valuable lesson that I had better stick to topics like “Authors, promote your book here.”

Unlike Goodreads which is interactive, BookDaily enables you to create a profile page, but it will remain inert unless you subscribe to the company’s “Emerging Authors Program.” BookDaily offers a comprehensive marketing package for fifty dollars a month that includes book signings, blog tours, and its signature service of sending sample book chapters to thousands of email recipients. BookDaily is a highly professional organization that merits consideration as an alternative to doing it yourself.

Although you will do most of your promoting online, don’t overlook the print media. Send a press release and review copy to the book review editor of your local newspaper and to papers in cities that may be featured in your book. Locally, if you or your book is in some respect newsworthy, call on the tip line of the news or features department; in my case, living in a college town, I suggested, “retired history prof turns novelist.”  If nothing else, you may run a small box ad in the local paper, although it will cost you upwards of a hundred dollars.  Kirkus Reviews will review your book and if it’s favorable publish it in its journal for a fee of over three hundred dollars. If you want to go really retro, consider the U.S. Postal Service. You can hire companies such as Postcardmania.com and PsPrint.com to design, print, and distribute postcards advertising your book to a variety of mailing lists. You may also design postcards on your computer and send them to Staples for printing, which you can address and mail on your own to any lists you possess and deem appropriate.

While most of these ideas pertain to both eBooks and print editions, paperbacks provide certain unique promotional methods, especially signings. If you’ve self-published with companies like Lulu or CreateSpace, you are able to purchase marketing packages at varying rates, depending on the number of options you choose. A paperback enables you to have a book signing at a local/independent bookstore or ArtsFest. However, since Lulu et al are print-on-demand (POD), no bookstore will stock your book; you will have to purchase two dozen or so copies on your own account and persuade the local bookseller that a signing will promote good will and attract additional traffic to the store. You’ll be lucky to break even, but the publicity will be worth it, you will have primed the pump, and you should always have a few paperbacks on hand for contingencies.

How do I promote thee; let me count the ways. The list is long. Keep abreast of the Authors Helping Authors Resource Site for on-going tips. Be innovative; I know of an author who left copies of his paperback in the reading rack of his barber’s shop and the waiting room of his dentist, among other places. And add stealth to your means. For example, are you aware that this writer has just plugged his book?

~~~~~~~~~~~Charles Ameringer is a recipient of the AHA Red Ribbon Award. You may view the reviews of The Old Spook on the following Amazon.com link: http://www.amazon.com/The-Old-Spook-Charles-Ameringer/dp/1477654623/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1365603635&sr=8-1&keywords=The+Old+Spook

What are some of your favorite self promotion techniques and/or sites?
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11 thoughts on ““On Promoting Your Book” by Charles Ameringer

  1. I know I need to do more promotion and your article has spurred me into action. You’ve also stirred me to rewrite some of my promotional material, as yes, I’ve missed a trick…why I’m the best person to have written the novel that I have. Thank you.

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    1. That’s a hard one Barton, and a reality for many. The challenge of balancing and surviving financially while breaking out your creative side and publishing your work…there is no one right or wrong answer. For me the answer was to learn how to do as much of the work myself. You can learn to create your own author profile, do SEO, learn to blog, do social media marketing, learn how to do formatting and cover designs, and how to indie publish. You can’t edit your own work but you can find other authors that also edit and trade off editing work to get through that 1st book. Bottom line, believe in your writing, in your abilities, take a leap of faith in yourself and do what you can manage reasonably and have patience. The old cliché, “it takes money to make money” is a little less a reality in our publishing world because we can do most of it ourselves now…it just takes time, patience, and faith. Hang in there, you are not alone! Debra

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  2. I would like to add up another printing resource that can help you print materials for your promotions. Check on UPrinting.com’s printing services.

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  3. I’ve done most of what you suggested, but I don’t really see how being on goodreads has helped so far although I have enjoyed writing a weekly blog. I would add that if you think you have a really good book, it’s worth paying for a Kirkus review. I paid less than $400 for the slow review (it takes ten weeks). The review of my book was outstanding, and the reviewer summarized my memoir better than I could. Recently, I’ve learned that the review for “A Redlight Woman Who Knows How to Sing the Blues” was published in the November printed Kirkus Reviews and that both the cover of my book and the book itself have been selected for Kirkus Reviews Best of 2013. Even if all of that hadn’t happened, I would have considered my money well spent because my memoir was paired on the Kirkus Reviews website with Ralph Ellison’s classic novel, Invisible Man, and the President’s classic memoir, Dreams of My Father. Hey, I have an ego or I wouldn’t have written a 500-page memoir; as I’ve told several friends, “memoir” begins with the word “me.” But I wouldn’t have dared suggest that my book had anything in common with those two bestsellers.

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