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.