Friday, June 29, 2012

I'm not a salesperson, I'm a writer. How I made friends with book promotion.

When Kiss Me Slowly was released, I felt a combination of joy...and terror.  Even though I had a publisher, I knew that, as a first time novelist, a lot of the promotion was going to fall on me.  I had no idea how to build a platform--or even what that meant.  Faced with a limited budget, other works in progress, a family to raise solo and a lot of misguided beliefs about 'promotion', I wasn't sure where to begin.  I'm not a salesperson, I'm a writer. I didn't want to come off as some pushy, "read my book NOW" type.   How could I possibly get the word out there?
Photo courtesy of National Lampoon
Well, now my second is about to be released and I'm much more relaxed.  I've learned quite a bit in the seven months since Kiss Me Slowly's release. I've also had to let go of those ideas I had about 'selling'.  After all, I put a lot of time, effort, love and passion into my work, why not get paid for it like other professions?  Silly, writer.  Believe it or not, it took me awhile to let that idea go.

In no particular order, here are some things I've learned about book promotion:
  • Blog tours were my first introduction to book promotion.  My publisher, Siren-Bookstrand, has an author group where authors offer to host each other.  From there, I developed my own author blog and began hosting authors every Monday.  I've learned that, especially in this business, what goes around comes around.  Be nice to other authors, help them and they'll help you.  Blog tours give you a chance to do an interview, write an original guest post and/or feature an excerpt of your novel.  There are also book promotors, such as Coffee Beans and Love Scenes, who set up virtual book tours for a minimal fee.  
  • Develop an author fan page on Facebook.  By setting up a specific page for my author persona, I didn't feel like I was slamming my book down friends' and family's throats.  My author fan page gives me free reign to talk about my blog, other writers, post reviews, and basically do as I please.  No, I didn't do this right away and am kicking myself.  I only started a separate page a few months ago and wish I'd done it from day one.  This also makes it easier for fans to 'like' you without having to worry about giving too much personal info on your regular profile page.  Easy.   Put this on your must do list. 
  • Twitter is my favorite social media outlet.  Yeah, I'm surprised, too.  When I first became involved with Twitter, I thought it was the stupidest thing imaginable.  However, I've met so many connections there.  I've gotten ideas from authors with a lot more experience than myself.  I've received offers to appear on blogs and virtual book festivals.  But there is a trick to Twitter--you need to be social, not just some auto-bot who's tweeting links to your book all of the time.  Retweet, reply, give out useful information and, yes, sell your novel--but mix it up. Keep your conversations balanced.  After all, it's called social media for a reason--so be social.  The benefits have been through the roof for me.  
  • Reviews from professional book bloggers.  Now, here I had an advantage because my publisher sent my ARCs to reviewers on my behalf and sent me a list of others for me to handle.  I wasn't passive about it, I followed through.  As time passed, I discovered other book bloggers via Twitter and my connections through the blog tours.  Why are reviews from professional book bloggers better than reader reviews?  Well, I probably shouldn't use the word 'better', but they do lend more credibility to the review.  Savvy readers will look at glowing reader reviews and wonder if you simply have a team of loyal friends who came through for you; whereas, professional reviews always state that they are 'pros' and will gladly copy their review on Barnes and Noble, Amazon, and Goodreads for you.  Don't be afraid to ask for a review!  Also--be choosy about who you're letting review your book.  Look through their past reviews of books similar to yours and see what their style is.  It's your name on the cover so it's okay to say no to a review, too.  
  • Giveaways are a great way to get your name out there.  Right now I'm participating in Freado's Summer Romance Festival where my novel is being given away as a prize.  It's not costing me anything and I'm getting great exposure in 56 countries.  The cover of my novel is being used in match games and is being seen all over the site in "you might like to buy" columns.  In the first four days alone, my bio there has received 1500 hits. And where does my bio link to?  Direct to my author website with buy links to my publisher, Amazon and Barnes & Noble. Still a newbie, I think this is great!  Goodreads also offers giveaways for authors as do most blog tours.  It doesn't hurt framing your novel as a prize!
  • Creating a book trailer on YouTube.  When I first heard about this, I had no idea what it was.  Yeah, the name is self-explanatory, but in my frenzied newly published mind I didn't put the dots together.  Then, thanks to another author who took pity on me, I figured it out.  YouTube actually has an entire section of book trailers so take a look. I bought pictures from iStockphoto that depicted my novel's story, pieced them together in iMovie and put them to music.  It's fun.  As soon as I receive the cover for my next novel, I'm going to make another.  I use this all over the place--my publisher uses it on their website, I give it to blog hosts as part of my media kit, have it on my FB author page, on my author website and here on this blog.  There is nominal cost involved in creating this, but it goes a long way in helping your marketing efforts.  
  • Become involved with author organizations like World Literary Cafe, Authors Promoting Authors, Sexy Romance Readers/Writers, etcetera. Most of these organizations are all about helping authors unite, network and cross-promote.  
  • Create an author page on Goodreads.  This is a very popular site for readers.  Although I do have some apprehension about it, I can't deny the results. I've seen many people adding my novel to their 'shelves' and have had sales success there.  Other authors swear by it, as do reviewers I've met.  
Okay, you're wondering how much time all of this takes, right?  I spend about 90 minutes a day on marketing, mainly checking Twitter, my author website and FB fan page.  If you think that sounds like a lot of time, then I need to remind you that no one cares about your work more than you do.  You need to make an investment in marketing.  There are many talented authors out there in the world--where do you fit amongst them?  

If you have any ideas that I failed to mention, please share them in the comments below.  We're all in this together. Write on!  


Elyse Salpeter said...

This is a great article and you're doing wonderful. I would recommend a few other areas to announce you book. LinkedIn has connections and even author groups. Google+ is another where you can have an author circle of friends, and I'd suggest maybe book signings and chats as ways to get out there - and let your local newspaper know about it too! They're always looking for content. Great blog, super helpful and insightful.

Amber Lea Easton said...

Thanks, Elyse! Great suggestions. I haven't figured out Google+, but probably need to spend more time over there and become savvy. :-)

Rachel Carrington said...

Great ideas, Amber. One of the best ways I've found to use Twitter is to always include the Pls. RT in your post. Most people will retweet if asked.

Also, in the past, I've had great success with unusual contests on my blog like Best Caption for a picture I have related to my book. The prizes were simple but people loved it.

Another great thing to use is Rafflecopter. It can help you with your contests because it keeps track of the entries.

Here's to continued success!


Amber Lea Easton said...

Wonderful suggestions, Rachel! I'd never heard of Rafflecopter, but I'll definitely check it out. That's also a great idea about running a contest on my blog, maybe I'll do that for my upcoming release.

Love all the added ideas! Keep 'em coming.

Jo Linsdell said...

Great list Amber. I totally agree with you about Twitter. It's the best social media site for sending content viral.

Unknown said...

You're definitely an inspiration to many! Most people think that being a salesperson is difficult; one must possess qualities like this and that and so on. But what they didn't know is we are all salespeople in our own ways, just like you. You admit that you're not the salesperson type of person, but you find your own ways to promote your books by using different advertising tools and creating connections with your possible customers. This may be hard work, but it will definitely pay off. Thanks for sharing this article. :)

---) Guillermina Falkowski (---