It’s the dawn of a new year, and when I ask my writing friends about their new year’s resolutions, they generally made one of the following.
- Un-agented authors have resolved to land an agent this year, even if it kills them
- Agented but unpublished authors have resolved to sell a book or at least stay sane while trying
- Authors with books out (or coming out) have resolved to do more to promote them
These are good and reasonable goals. They reflect every writer’s stage in his or her career. However, I would like to point out that none of those goals can possibly be achieved on Twitter. Or Facebook or Google+, for that matter. Especially resolution #3. It’s only January 5th and my Twitter feed’s already loaded down with these “Hey did you know about my book” tweets.
Better Ways to Promote Your Book
I understand the desire to promote something you worked so hard to write and have published, and I applaud that authors are applying new-found energy to it. In an effort to save my own Twitter feed from complete inundation, I’m going to throw out some other ideas for promoting your book in the new year.
1. Make an in-person appearance
If you wrote and published a book, there are probably some people who would love to have you come talk about it in person:
- Schools, especially ones with creative writing classes. Teachers would love to have you come educate and inspire
- Libraries, which often run events to promote books and tend to favor local authors
- Book clubs would love, love, love to have the author of their current book come to visit
Most of us in North America are getting a blast of frigid temperatures right now. Everyone’s stuck indoors, and a visitor’s face would be welcome.
2. Make a virtual appearance
There’s a huge online community that would love to hear from you as well. I’m talking about bloggers and blog-readers. You have a book. Odds are, there are some bloggers who would love to interview you, or have a guest post from you. While you were resolving to promote your book, they were probably resolving to post more content, so it’s a perfect match.
Note, an invitation to guest post is not license to write a 2-page ad for your book. You have to provide some valuable content that will be interesting to the blog’s readers: an article on writing craft, or your publishing journey, or some aspect of your book. If you write something engaging enough, maybe they’ll get down to the bottom and see that casual blurb for your book with the Amazon link. And if you really want to win points, let the blogger make it an affiliate link.
You could also make a podcast appearance to talk about any of these topics. Podcasters will be looking to fill their guest slots, and they’re usually very generous about blurbing the latest book of their guests. My agency-brother Dan Bensen has one, for example.
3. Design a fun promotional item
Every few months, I get a catalog from a promotional-items company. You wouldn’t believe all of the cool swag that they can make these days at a relatively low cost. Pens, pencils, magnets, binder clips, bottle openers, mini calculators, everything. Order something fun and new that has your book’s title and your author website URL. Then you can hand it out when you’re visiting all of those schools, libraries, bookstores, etc.
4. Befriend a bookseller
Is there a small, locally-owned bookstore that you haven’t visited? Especially one that carries your book? I’m sure the owner would love to have you come by and sign a few copies. Even if that’s not possible, you should support your local booksellers. The best way to make a good impression is probably to follow these steps:
- Visit the store in person
- Ask the bookseller to recommend a book, based on what you like
- Buy the book. Preferably with cash.
- Tell the bookseller how much you love independent book stores.
- In passing, you might mention that you’re an author yourself.
There is no better ally than a bookseller who knows you, likes you, and can hand-sell your book to anyone who comes in.
5. Ask your readers for something
Look, most of your blog/Facebook/Twitter followers know about your book. Many of them have probably bought it and read it already — that’s why they’re following you. Don’t annoy these people by bugging them to buy something when they already have. Instead, reach out to them. You might ask them:
- Whether they’d provide a blurb about the book that you can share on your web site.
- Would they consider leaving a review on Goodreads or Amazon?
- Their impressions of the book. What they liked the most, or what they liked the least.
There is no down side to engaging your readers, especially the ones who’ve taken the time to follow you. That’s WHY they’re following you.
Here’s wishing you new readers and fans in 2015!
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Lara Willard says
I plan on giving pens and pencils to schools I visit (especially to the teachers and librarians). For everything else, I’d give out bookmarks with my book’s cover, blurb, and my website on them, printed locally from small print shops.
Giving pens and pencils to teachers is a great idea. Thanks for the comment, Lara!
Megan Reyes says
Mind if I ask what promo-items catalog you subscribe to? There are like a bajillion different companies, and I’d love to narrow my search. 🙂
GREAT post, by the way. Thank you for sharing.
Erica Jones says
Excellent read!! About the printed promotional items, the best item for promoting a book must be a bookmark with a quote from the book or the title and/or cover picture printed on it. Not only that can be an excellent promotion for the book, it will be really useful for readers. One of my friends is a good novelist and publishes her own books occasionally. She prints these kind of bookmarks from local printing companies like Clubink in toronto, about 100-200 in number and distribute it via libraries and bookshops. The response is always good with people comes looking for her books in shops and libraries.
Tina Hogan Grant says
Thanks for the tips. Much appreciated. Newly published author waiting for the debut of my first novel so I found this very helpful