Monday, March 23, 2009

Six Steps of Book Promotion, with book publicist Katie Christie -- Step Four

This week features freelance publicist Katie Christie's fourth step in her six-step book promotion process.

STEP FOUR: REACHING YOUR TARGET AUDIENCE

These are just some of the avenues available to authors looking to promote books:

- Reviews, ads and book tours
They do sell books, but does their effectiveness outweight the time and money they require? It's a question that's open to debate, and you'll have to decide if your personality and your lifestyle make these worthwhile approaches for you, especially when it comes to the ads and book tours.

I could write a whole other post about book tours, but don’t forget these:

1. Once you know your publishing date, schedule a book release party at your favorite local bookstore and tell everyone you know how important it is to you that they come.
2. Libraries love author events and might even pay a little.
3. Schools are already separated by age. If your target audience is anywhere from mid-twenties to preschool, you know where you can find them. Even if you think your audience is out of school, universities often have adult services center that might be interested in hosting you for a program.
4. Book clubs will appreciate you reaching out to them.

Find contact information online, from bookstores, from libraries, from friends and acquaintances, and tell the people in charge why you think you’d be a great addition to their event schedule. It never hurts to ask.

- Social networking
The possibilities are truly, and perhaps dauntingly, limitless. A good Web site, blog and one major “friending site” (i.e. Facebook, Myspace, Goodreads) are necessary, but I personally recommend quality over quantity. Whichever outlet you decide on, research it first. Lurk around for a while, read the FAQ, and I’ll bet at least one person’s written an article on the Web about how to maximize the potential of every site out there.

- Blog tours
Everybody’s blogging (including you, right?), and there are plenty of blogs for every interest. The top blogs that come up when you search for your genre should be your first choices. Tell the blogger about your book and what interesting topics you could talk about on their blog, and ask politely if they’d be interested in hosting a stop on your tour. Also, make sure to check with your friends and family, you never know who might be a closet blogger.

- Marketing materials
The most important thing when it comes to marketing materials is the wording. It must attract attention. Keep these rules in mind:

1. Make them easy to understand at a glance;
2. Make them easy to remember;
3. Make them entertaining;
4. Make them reveal enough to pique interest; and
5. Leave them wanting more

You should also reduce the “throwaway” factor as much as possible. How many handheld fliers have you glanced at, dropped in the nearest trash can and promptly forgot? Business cards are good because they’re cheap and memorable, but they’re also the kind of thing people hang on to. For THE LIFE PLAN, the author had postcards made that can stamped and sent through the mail, in addition to being left at coffee shops and bookstores in town, and given away as bookmarks. Since travelers are a big part of the audience, there’s a better chance they’ll hang onto them.

There are plenty of places online that will print these up for you. This also could be your biggest expense, so buy quality stuff and be sure to use well!

- Keep publishing
Tired of pitching? Do what you do best, write. Submit short stories or excerpts from the novel for promotion that’s either free or pays you. Check out www.duotrope.com for the most comprehensive list I’ve ever found.

- Keep publishing other stuff
Write articles on related topics or anything else you’re an expert on. If your novel is a western, maybe you want to write an article about something like the care of horses. This will help people in your target audience find you.

Or maybe you’re more passionate about gardening. If so, write an article about the care of petunias. Either way, you’re getting your name and your URL (you do have a URL, right?) out there. Also, you’re much more likely to get clicks from a well-written, heartfelt article than a dry, uninspired discourse about hoof care. Unless hoof care is what really turns you on…

Not an established freelance author yet? Check out Wikihow.com, About.com, Ehow.com, Howtodothings.com, Ezinearticles.com for online outlets and http://www.helpareporter.com/ for more print media sites, plus every other form imaginable.

- Giveaways, contests, etc.
People love free stuff. ‘Nuff said.

- Make friends
Remember all those books you’ve been reviewing and the great relationships you’ve developed with their authors? Since you’re promoting them, they just might return the favor. Also, make sure your local bookstore (preferably an indie) has copies of books similar to yours. This isn’t just good karma—if readers pick up a book they like in the store, they’re likely to go back looking for similar material, and when they do, there’s your book!

- Make friends
Look for writing and reading groups to join, either locally or online, but don’t just use them for promotion. Research everything they’ve got to offer and get involved.

Form relationships with other publishing professionals—editors, editorial assistants, agents, agent’s assistants, book publicists, etc. all have insight from their own angle of the business. Don’t just go to HarperCollins' Web site and spam everybody on their contact list—if they’re twittering or blogging, follow. If they’re on Myspace, Facebook or Goodreads, friend them. If you do contact them directly, make sure to say something worth the time for both of you.

NOTE: Have a specific question? Leave it in the comments section and I'll get it to Katie. STEP FIVE & SIX: EVALUATE & REPEAT will appear next Monday...

Katie Christie is a freelance publicist who recently acquired her first literary project, THE LIFE PLAN, a novel by Sybil Baker released recently by Casperian Books. You may e-mail her at katie@sybilbaker.com. For more information about THE LIFE PLAN and Sybil Baker, visit http://www.sybilbaker.com/ and http://sybilbaker.blogspot.com/.

5 comments:

richmond said...

I recently came accross your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I dont know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.


Ruth

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Creative A said...

I've been loving this series so far. Looking forward to the next step :)

packey said...

I recently came accross your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I dont know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.


Betty

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Shauna Roberts said...

This was excellent. I need to go back and read the parts I missed while finishing my book.

Katie Christie said...

Thank you so much Creative and Shauna! I wish you all the best of luck on your projects and I hope my series will help in some way.