Promoting… The All Important P In Publishing

Promotion! I hate it. Some folks may love it. Certainly, most folks are way better at it than I am. So, my question to the MissDemeanors this week was: What is the best thing you’ve done to help promote your book so far? I’ve highlighted some of my favorite bits that I will definitely be exploring with my latest book.   Here’s mine. I had a murder mystery party in my house for The Widower’s Wife. About 50 couples showed up and everyone had a character (most of which I made up). Pretty much everyone bought a book. More importantly, folks had so much fun being part of a mystery that they actually read the book and then shared it with friends. I am pretty sure that each person who came spread the word. At the end of the day, I can’t quantify the sales, but it was fun and it definitely got folks talking.  Michele: The unfortunate answer to this question is I don’t know. That’s because it’s very difficult to tell what works and doesn’t unless you can make a direct connection to your sales. My sense is that marketing my books to people who live in or visit and love the Virgin Islands has worked best. I think that might get filed under “Finding Your Audience.” Susan: I’ve taken part in several Bones and Scones events at the Madison Library, and those are fun because the only people who go are cozy mystery readers. And people who like scones. (This would go to Michele’s point about Finding Your Audience.) In terms of sales, the number one thing I’ve done is take part in BookBub. That causes your sales to jump by thousands in one day. It’s at a reduced price, but if you’re looking to get your name out there, it’s very helpful. Also, Gotham Writers has a newsletter they send out to 40,000 or so people and they’ve been very nice about excerpting my work and promoting it. Paula: It’s hard to know what works and what doesn’t, so the best thing is to do is as much as possible. Social media’s critical, and I do a lot of that. I also do a lot of appearances at writer’s conferences, where I sell a lot of my writing books (as that’s where my audience is). Robin Stuart: I second Paula’s advice. Conferences and social media are good for reaching beyond your immediate circles. So is looking for and jumping on every single opportunity to be interviewed, interviewing someone else, and writing articles/blogs on topics close to your platform or premise. If you’re not already a member of organizations like Sisters In Crime and Mystery Writers of America – do it now. They both offer opportunities for volunteering, panel appearances and organized events to raise your own profile as well as that of your books. I’m also a fan of creative promotions, like our Miss Demeanors webcam covers. Since I write what I know (cyber crime) I have “names” in the cyber crime fighting community ready and willing to help out with promotional ideas and opportunities, too. Basically, book promotion is self-promotion. The key is to throw shyness out the window. Believe in your product (you) and leverage your communities, be they personal, professional, local or international. It’s all fair game and the only limits are your imagination. Tracee: I think I agree with everyone! Particularly on the it’s hard to tell what works issue. I’m with Paula that you have to delve into social media, but I keep looking for the sweet spot – meaning how much and how targeted. I wish I could do it as well as Steve Berry. His social media posts are consistent and reflect the focus of his books – thrillers set around a historical topic. When he is gearing up for a launch the posts focus on historic facts/places/items of interest surrounding that particular theme (for example, tie in to the Templars for the Templar Legacy.) When he’s not gearing up for a launch the historic topics range a bit further but keep the interest of readers who like the history angle. It’s targeted and informative. I think it is a success. I’ve not been as creative as Cate with her mystery party but I do think that in-person helps. I liken it to politics. When you are a new candidate (or a known name going to the next level) you have to meet people. Hopefully these people become your strongest supporters (fans) and spread the word. For me, that means getting out and about: bookstores, libraries, local groups, in person or Skype book clubs and, of course, conferences. I also think these outings are energizing. Meeting readers and talking about books is why we write! I always think what would Paula do/say? She would likely remind us all that the MOST important thing we do is put time into writing the best book we can. So I suppose that’s the scale upon which I weigh the other marketing activities. Have to do them, but don’t let them become all I do. Alexia: My publisher’s sales are mostly online so I’m working on “building my social media presence”. I’ve got an account on nearly everything except Reddit, although I have varying success in keeping up with all of them. I blog, which is not something I did before I had a book deal. (And, honestly, wouldn’t if I wasn’t an author.) I seldom say no to interviews on others’ blogs or podcasts (even though I think my recorded voice sounds weird). I also go to as many conferences as I can afford to/arrange time off from work for. A lot of my book sales are made at conferences, both on-site and to people who meet/hear me and buy later. Conferences help me improve my networking skills as well as sell books. I’ve made contact with people who’ve offered me guest blogs, interviews, and book blurbs. The next time I see a movie or TV show that depicts an author leading the life of a hermit, never connecting with anyone but their inner muse, yet still selling books, I’m going to track down the script writer and bop them over the head with my calendar. (Not really, because I don’t advocate violence but you know what I mean.) On the plus side, I made enough trips this year to get my United frequent flyer status upgraded to Silver. If I ever win Powerball or Mega Millions, I’m hiring a publicist. Alison: As a yet-to-be-published writer, I know where to turn in 2018 when I need advice! I have to admit, it’s not something I’m thinking about yet. (Alison, book mark this blog. I learned a lot from our fellow MissDemeanors.)  

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