Getting Booked and Printed
Tips on Promotion
There's a great line from the movie, "Get Shorty," spoken by John Travolta's character:
"Look at me!"
But we've always been taught it's not polite to blow your own horn. Unless you're Stephen King and everyone already knows you, it's time to get over that. Writing is a business and you want to make a living. Selling the book is mostly your responsibility, because you care the most. Here are the facts:
- About 40,000 books a year are published
- About 4,000 get reviewed in the trades
- About 400 get good media attention
- About $4,000 is the average yearly earnings for most writers and only 1 in 10 fiction books make back their advance.
You need to market your own book. Consider it an investment because you'll have to invest some of your own money to do it, but you can do it on a budget. Your job is to get your name out, without becoming obnoxious. It takes practice but it gets easier. Learn from others, research, then map out your promotion plan.
First question: What is your message/topic/slant?
In Dead Body Language, the slant is my deaf character's need to cope in a hearing world. How she does this while solving a murder creates the unique storyline.
Second question: How is your book different from others?
In Dead Body Language, Connor Westphal is the only deaf female amateur detective in the mystery world, and the setting - Flat Skunk - is the only contemporary mystery set in the colorful California Gold Country. Connor lives in a diner, has a signal dog, drives a 57 Chevy, and publishes her own newspaper - all different from other books.
Third question: Who is your audience?
In Dead Body Language, you'd expect the audience to be only deaf people, but hearing people are fascinated with how a deaf person must solve problems without being able to hear.
When promoting your book, your audience wants three things from you:
Many of my readers want information on deafness, gadgets for the deaf, sign language tips, Gold Country lore, small town life, signal dog details, mortuary secrets, and so on.
My readers want to solve the mystery, figure out the killer, enjoy the romance, laugh at the humor, empathize at the emotions, and have a fun adventure.
3. Personal Experiences
My audience wants to know who I am, why I wrote the book, how I got published, why I chose a deaf character, how I did my research, and what's my next book about.
Begin with a hook, a slogan, as if you're pitching an idea to Hollywood. Make it punchy, short, and to the point. Make your presentation visual, with lots of props, graphics, crime scene, even music. Then offer your services to any source that might be interested in your topic: newspapers, TV, radio, libraries, writer's groups, professional groups, women's groups, bookstores, clubs, colleges, conferences, and any specialized audiences.
Here are some specific tips:
- Find a slant/gimmick - how are you different?
- Get a photo - make it eye-catching and fun
- Create a press release - do it yourself
- biography - what's your background/expertise
- controversy - anyone got a problem with that?
- quote from the book - make it snappy
- copy of book cover - color reproduction
- promo materials - get from publisher
- write a newsletter - full of information
- Tie-in with signing or event - newsworthy
- Add a hometown slant - born, raised, relatives
- Make it a package deal - add other authors
- Take writer to lunch
- Same as above
- send audiotape - use a dramatic reader
- include 20 sample questions to use on air
- Same as above
- send videotape from signing or event
- include 20 sample questions
- tie into local event
- wear an appropriate costume
- Same as above
- alert newspapers, radio, TV
- alert libraries, book stores, writer groups
- post flyers, send out postcards, internet
- set stage with costumes, clues, body outline, police line, table setting and centerpiece, props
- pass out novelty items - personalized pencils, bookmarks, bumper stickers, refrigerator magnets
- offer snacks, wine, copy of recipe
- raffle book, lunch with author, t-shirt
- host at unusual sites - restaurant, winery
- Same as above
- business cards
- bookmarks, postcards, novelty items
- get on a panel and talk about your book
1001 WAYS TO MARKET YOUR BOOKS: FOR AUTHORS AND PUBLISHERS, John Kremer, $14.95, Ad-Lib Publications
NETWORKING AT WRITER'S CONFERENCES: FROM CONTACTS TO CONTRACTS, Steven Spratt & Lee Spratt, $12.95, John Wiley & Sons
PUBLICITY FOR BOOKS AND AUTHORS: A DO-IT YOURSELF HANDBOOK, Peggy Glenn, Aames-Allen Publishing
SHAMELESS PROMOTION FOR BRAZEN HUSSIES, Edited by Linda Grant, $10.00, Sisters in Crime
SO YOU'RE GOING TO DO AN AUTHOR SIGNING, Edited by Barbara D'Amato, $5.00, Sisters in Crime
AN AUTHOR'S GUIDE TO BUDGET BOOK PROMOTION, by Linda Leffers, PO Box 448, Spencer, IN 47460
LL THRASHER'S PRACTICAL BOOK PROMOTION FOR WRITERS, by LL Thrasher