"The universe is made of stories, not of atoms."
—Muriel Rukeyser

PUBLICIZING YOUR BOOK Suggestions for Success: Part 4

Continued from part 3

Now that you have finished your book, and it is ready to be shopped around to publishers (or has already been bought by a publisher!) it’s time to think about what you can do to help promote your book.

Sell More Books!
by Jennifer Minar-Jaynes

Do you want to sell books? Lots of books? If so, you have to become a tireless self-promoter. Not good at self-promotion? Not a problem. You can learn.

The first thing to realize is that there are no guarantees a book is going to sell just because it's well-written. But it is guaranteed to sell if it's marketed well. A tireless promoter consistently contributes to the progress or growth of whatever he's promoting and is constantly coming up with more ways for getting his products in front of potential customers.

As an author you're promoting books. As a tireless promoter, you're always finding ways to get your books noticed. Be your best salesperson. And remember, no one's going to care more about your books than you.

"But my publisher will do this for me," you may say. "I'm an author, not a salesperson or marketer." True, a good publisher will take care of some promotion, but if you're not Grisham or Steele, or any other household name, the person ultimately responsible for selling books is you. If you're the author and publisher, the ball is mostly in your court.

A tactic is a plan for attaining a particular goal. Below are some conventional and guerrilla, or not so commonly used, tactics for marketing your books on- and offline.

Conventional Tactics

Stay Educated & Connected. Educate yourself about the industry. Read books and articles; attend conferences. Learn what is working for other authors and use this information when developing your own marketing campaign.

Visit writing-related web sites and read as many articles as you can. Talk to other writers, join trade and social associations, attend conferences, book fairs, and writer's groups.
Network, network, network.

Not only can other writers become part of a support group for critiques and bouncing ideas off of, knowing them can open many doors. For instance, you can find writers who might be interested in co-publishing a newsletter or who would be interested in developing co-op ads and cross-promoting. Find writers who share your interests and keep in touch often.

Gather testimonials. Compile testimonials you receive from readers and experts. Use them in newsletters, in ads, on your web site, and in media kits. Testimonials are powerful. They can give a potential customer the extra confidence he needs to buy your books and will encourage retail buyers to take a second look.

Launch a Press Release Campaign. Find an angle and write a short press release. In fact, write many. A well-written press release about a powerful story will raise reporters' eyebrows. Distribute the release to local media and through one of the wires. It doesn't cost much and the results can be amazing.

A few to research:

Get Reviewed. Constantly seek out reviews. Reviews and testimonials can be invaluable. Moira Allen provides tips on getting your book reviewed at WritingWorld.com.

Keep in Touch with Decision-Makers. Retail buyers and potential customers are decision-makers. 1001 Ways to Market Your Books (Open Horizons, 1998) author John Kremer suggests that authors start a promotional newsletter that can be sent to this audience. Send it to wholesalers, retail buyers, past customers and prospects.

Write Free Articles. We've published several articles on WWW.WritersBreak.com about the advantages of submitting your articles to other web sites and publications that offer a generous byline. In the byline, you'll want to include your site URL and information on your books. "But why should I give my articles away?" you may ask. Two words: free exposure. Exposure leads to awareness. Awareness sells books.

Create a Web Site. Though it can be a time-consuming venture, a web site is a great way to give readers and people in the industry the opportunity to get to know you and your work better. A good web site can open many doors. Not only can you sell more books with a web site, you can swap ads and barter space.

Do Interviews. Accept interview requests no matter the size of the publication. Not only will you get better at giving interviews, your books will receive more exposure. Again, exposure leads to awareness. Awareness sells books.

Guerrilla Tactics

A guerrilla, by definition, is one who carries on, or assists in carrying on, irregular warfare. The below can be considered guerrilla tactics because in this business, they're seldom used.
Sell Books in Person. Selling books in person can be very lucrative. In his book, Kremer gives the example of how author/publisher Gary Provost began selling his book, The Dorchester Gas Tank. He'd work a busy Boston corner every day and peddle his books, selling 20 to 25 books a day--more than most books sell in a single day.

Kremer also mentions another author who managed to sell 70,000 copies within ten months by loading her van and visiting grocery stores, gift shops, and health clubs.
Remember, though, when face-to-face with your audience, to convey professionalism and passion for your book. If you do, your prospect will be more likely to buy.

Create an Affiliate Program. Affiliate programs give web site and ezine owners the incentive to help you sell more books.

Have Magnets Made. Do you commute long distances? If so, you may want to get automobile magnets that read "Visit www.yourwebsiteaddress.com" or "Check out MY BOOK'S NAME at Amazon!" How many drivers see your bumper every day? If you're like me, thousands. Talk about some cheap exposure! Plus, if you're commuting during the same hours each day, the same people are seeing your ad over and over again. At some point, these people will become curious enough to visit your site or Amazon's.

Leave Review Copies. Leave copies of your books in doctor's waiting rooms, in libraries, at tanning salons, hair salons, the county tax office. You never know who will pick it up and begin talking about it. Also, give copies to clerks at bookstores. If they read it and like it, they could create a buzz with their higher ups.

Use Promotional Tools in Untraditional Ways. Have bookmarks, flyers, and business cards made. Stick bookmarks or business cards in with your monthly bills. Leave them with tips at restaurants. These tools are low-cost items, and you never know whose interest you'll generate. Have your friends and family do this, too. Again, the idea is exposure.

Leave Bookmarks in Best-Sellers. I recently read a thread about this on one of my online writer's news groups. Approach the manager at a local bookstore and ask if you can stick a bookmark in each of the store's bestsellers. If the manager is amenable, you may want to find out if you can also stick them into books of your genre. You already know a few things about the person on the other end. He buys books, and in the latter case, he buys the types of books you write. Visit local entrepreneurs. Ask if you can leave an attractive bowl somewhere in their store and place a handful of free bookmarks in it. Everyone's a potential customer or knows potential customers.

These are just a few tactics for selling more books. Some may be good options for you, some may not. Try a few. Good luck! And here's to selling more books!

Jennifer Minar
Named a 'Best Web Site for Writers'
by Writer's Digest magazine, 2005-2007

Read part five
Read PUBLICIZING YOUR BOOK Suggestions for Success from the beginning.

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