Trade publishing? Self publishing? A hybrid of both? Whatever route you choose, it’s a very different business than it was a decade ago, and it’s ever evolving. Thankfully the Effective Promotion for Writers panel at Dragon Con had an impressive array of authors to speak about the daunting – or exhilarating depending on your personality type, world of self promotion.
The years when large publishing houses invested in sending their authors out on huge promo tours are over unless you’re already a big marquis name. It was deemed too much work and money spent for negligible impact. Every kind of publishing has devloped their own strategies and best practices. Different genres needs are more conducive to certain tactics. E-books and print also have distinct techniques. So, take that into account along with your natural skills when you’re exploring what’s best for you and your writing.
Sheila English – “Time Out of Darkness” | CEO of Circle of Seven Productions | Registered Trademark holder The Book Trailer®
Bennett R. Coles – “Virtues of War” | CEO of Promontory Press
Peter David – Too many media tie-in novels and pop novelizations to name
Faith Hunter (pseud. Gwen Hunter, Gary Hunter) – “Shadow Rites”
Gail Martin – “Shadow and Flame,” “30 days to Social Media Success”
Kathy Lyons (aka Jade Lee) – “Living the Fantasy”
Lee Martindale – “Bard’s Road” | Panel Moderator
Top Ten Tips
Targeted ads on Goodreads are better than a book tour.
So yeah, you aren’t getting to have those face-to-face chats with your fans like you would on a promo tour, but you’re getting more bang for your buck, reaching the type of audience predisposed to reading your beloved tome.
Have a measurable goal for all moneys you spend.
Do you want to collect names for your newsletter, sell books, create relationship with book sellers? be on x amount of of panels? Gauge how expensive the experience will be and budget realistically. What are you willing to spend on marketing? You most likely will not make it back on first book.
Create a promo ‘you’ if need be.
Glowering while tabling at an event helps no one. It’s a waste of money and time. For you introverts out there, you just might have to Sasha Fierce your way into your readers’ hearts. Peter David channels a humorous persona when all he really wants to do is sit in a corner and go unnoticed.
For Kathy she taps into her empathic nature and constructs a ‘caring’ persona because she’s not particularly funny. (Ironically this self effacing admission got a charmed chuckle from the audience.)
Even those who aren’t particularly shy may need to create a promo personality like Kathy aka Jade Lee who is a self-described extrovert. Jade Lee is her alter ego. When she’s Jade, she’s dressed all in green. It’s become a signature for her and touchstone for her readers.
Shadow another writer at con after publishing your first book.
Introduce yourself and ask respectfully. Most writers hang out in 1 bar when attending cons. A small con with a big writer will be less expensive and afford you more of an opportunity to meet with said author.
Join genre organizations.
Joining organizations like Erotica Readers and Writers Association , Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America and Crime Writers of Canada can help a fledgling author build contacts and skill share.
DO NOT RESPOND TO A BAD REVIEW.
It cannot end well for you. Yell at your manager or your spouse or dog. If you have a street team, instruct them not to do it either.
Promotion is long term plan.
This is a marathon, not a sprint. Find what your good at, try new things if old things seem not to be working. Creating a community on Twitter works for some, maintaining a website with a moderated comment section works for others.
Don’t turn into a PromoBot 3000.
Don’t parrot ‘Buy my book!’ every time someone sees you or they’ll learn to avoid you. Be able to read a room.
Consider creating a book trailer
We’ve become a visual people. A good promotional video can engage someone who doesn’t see themselves as ‘a reader’ but gets hooked by the visuals. The video has to be placed well. YouTube is good for Search Engine Optimization but isn’t targeted enough. Look into Book Reels GoodReads, and Amazon.
Consider a Publicist firm.
Publicists are quite good at convincing you they can promote your book but not always as deft at actually promoting your book. One author had been through 6 publicists in 6 years because the job is easier said than done. Make sure you vet a firm well.
To sum up, one book trailer or press event is not a marketing campaign. Do multiple things. If you’re going the traditional route with a publisher, bring something to the table. Let the marketing department know your plans. Then, find out what they intend to do. There are things you won’t even have access to that a publishing company would like setting up a display in a book seller.