Monday, December 06, 2010

Promoting Your Books

Last week, Marilyn Brigham from Marshall Cavendish showed us how to craft powerful sentences. Today, I want to share what Michelle Bayuk from Albert Whitman & Co had to say about authors and promoting their books.

The very first thing she did was define the author’s role in marketing:
-Authors are the book’s creator.
-You are a member of the marketing team.
-You are NOT a member of the sales team.
-You are the leading experts on your books.
-You are the leading experts on yourselves.
-You can be experts on the kinds of books you write.

What does that mean? It means that authors are not expected to sell books. You can go into a bookstore and alert the store manager about the book they have coming out, possibly leave a postcard or something similar behind, but you are NOT the one who convinces the store to buy X number of copies. Also, once a store has copies of their books in stock, you are welcome to drop by and sign stock (just alert someone before whipping out that pen). You can also contact your publicist to find out what you can do to promote your book, and you can call as much as six months before your books comes out. Just don’t overstay your welcome.

Other things authors can do is reach out to the readers in various ways. Play around with social networking, but stick to the mediums that you’re comfortable with. Once you find something that works for you, focus on sharing aspects of you. Who are you in your day job? Your community? Your personality? Readers want to know these things. Know your audience (which also means you need to know who your book targets), and that will make it easier to connect with them.

Things that authors can do on their own are wide and varied. You can schedule school visits, and Michelle suggested that you insist the kids have read the book ahead of time. You can also go to conferences to make connections there, and have an elevator pitch ready so you can talk about your book. You can also get the word out to your own circle of family and friends. Get to know your local librarian and booksellers and offer to do things for them instead of just asking them to promote your work.

For the introverts (like me)! If you’re uncomfortable talking to people you don’t know, don’t stand off to the side. Stand in the middle of the room, and eventually someone will talk to you. Then, when conversation comes around to you, you can tell that person about your book and you have one more potential reader.

You can spend your own money on promotional items, but have them professionally done. And, assess whether the money spent will be worth it. Business cards, bookmarks, and postcards have lots of uses and are usually worth the investment. Librarians are beginning to use book trailers, but don’t do that one yourself unless you can create one of professional quality. You can also do giveaways at schools.

Launch parties have changed over the years, and are often lonely affairs if you go it alone. However, if you partner with several debut authors, then you can all bring in your family and friends and get a much bigger turnout, as well as possible new readers.

The one thing that authors are expected to do is this: finish your next book! However, unless you want to start over as a debut author again, don’t change your name. So, be sure you like the name you’re publishing under for that first book.


Catherine Stine said...

Good post. Another thing you can do if you're shy is to take a public-speaking course. I took two of them, and they were invaluable in making me a less anxious speaker, and teacher.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for posting this! there are some great tips here. I'm bookmarking this for future reference :-).


Anna Staniszewski said...

Very handy tips. Thanks for posting!

cleemckenzie said...

All of her suggestions are excellent. I love the one about standing in the middle of the room until someone talks to you. I watched a young author sitting at a lonely table with a stack of books. He was reading! Hard to approach someone when they're reading.

Tere Kirkland said...

Engaging others can be scary. I am required to be very social at work functions, even though it doesn't come naturally to me, but if I were given the opportunity to talk about my book—the hardcover sitting in a pile next to me, wow!—I'd have a hard time sounding modest!

Thanks for the tips!

Jessie Harrell said...

thanks for an informative post! glad to know I'll never have to be a part of a sales team if I ever get my books published. :)

Anonymous said...

Great post! All great info. Now if only I had a book to promote! :)

Unknown said...

Thanks for coming to session and for posting about it (and for making me sound smart)!

Tabitha said...

Catherine - so true! I took a public speaking course in college and it worked wonders for me. Of course that was...ahem...years ago so I'm due for a refresher. :)

Elisabeth - glad you found it helpful!

Anna - glad yon enjoyed it!

Tabitha said...

Lee - I loved that one, too. I tend to gravitate to the walls so I thought that was genius! And the author sitting at a table reading? Not the best way to meet new people or expand your readership!

Tere - I totally relate! I love my books and have to remind myself not to overwhelm people with my enthusiasm. :) I make myself wait until they express interest at the very least before I cut loose. :)

Tabitha said...

Jessie - I was comforted by that bit of info, too. :)

Logan - keep working on that awesome story and you will! :)

Michelle - it's kind of hard to make smart people sound dumb. :) Thanks for sharing so much great info, and thanks for stopping by!

Anonymous said...

Great post. Thanks for the tips. My first book is coming out in Spring, so this post couldn't have come at a better time.

Natalie Aguirre said...

Great tips. I'm glad to know there's hope for us introverts.

Sherrie Petersen said...

Great tips in here. Thanks for sharing this advice!