QueryTracker Blog

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Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Promotional Techniques for Authors

All authors, whether independent or traditionally published, will eventually need to turn their attention to the wide world of promotion. Even traditionally published authors have to do a lot of self-promotion, despite having the power of a big publishing house behind them. Every author, no matter who has published their work, has one goal in common: to see their hard work and beautiful books promoted from sea to sea to sea.  We all want to go global, don't we?

In the beginning of my career, I was a shy writer, the girl who wanted her promotional attempts to be as far outside her "personal space" as possible. Think: billboard, but cheaper. I wasn't ready for signings or meet-and-greets or conferences. I thought a static webpage and a blog for announcements would be enough. Thank goodness I dispelled those illusions before I got my novel published.

Because I started out writing poetry and short stories, I was able to find my way through the promotional jungle one footstep at a time. Along the way, I've learned countless ways to promote my work--and most ways cost more time than money. You can tailor your methods to suit you and your work best; you can decide if you want to hire out to save time and work or make it a DIY project that will be inexpensive but time-consuming.

That's the beauty of promotion--it's a personal endeavor that you can make work for you.

Keeping my "personal space" in mind, here are some methods I've used--without ever leaving my writing cave.
  • Social media: please don't tell me you are still putting off getting online with Facebook and Twitter. While you are at it, join Goodreads and think about Pinterest or Google+. You won't sell books hanging a For Sale sign in an empty room. Get your social media profiles polished, start collecting friends, and don't ignore them! They'll only stay interested as long as you are interesting. Still intimidated? Check out this introduction to social networking here. The more advanced crowd might consider a Twitter party and enlist a few friends to help you promote through chatter and hashtags.

  • Blog: It's not enough to blog...you have to promote it as widely as possible. I've been reading up on SEO (search engine optimization) and learned a trick to get my blog to pop up in more searches. You can too--enroll your pages in blog directories to get more exposure, then make sure you use a lot of tags to describe your content. Some directories require annual re-enrollment and each one I've used require a code be placed on the blog (known as a reciprocal link.) I invite you to scroll to the bottom of my own blog to see which ones I use--you'll find at least four different graphics. Click on them to learn more about each directory.
     Also, consider joining Triberr, which combines the power of blogging with the audience of Twitter. In short: expand your audience. You can find more information on Triberr here.
  • Virtual book tours: Going on an author tour can be expensive, time-consuming, and all-around terrifying. Did you know you can promote a new release by going on a virtual book tour, instead? Instead of book stores and libraries, you visit book blogs and websites. Offer bloggers a giveaway, an excerpt, or an interview--your imagination can run wild, and bloggers love free content.
     Unlike physical touring, it's pretty much free (unless you offer prizes) and not terrifying at all. However, it still is time-consuming because you need to research blogs and email each blogger--and the prep work can take several weeks. (Many of the more popular blogs require months of notice in order to get you on their schedule, so start early.) Nonetheless, it's great promotion. You can see what I did on my virtual book tour here.
  • Book blasts: This is kind of like a virtual book tour except it's more ad than commercial. I just participated in a book blast for my urban fantasy Bleeding Hearts. Over fifty blogs posted a boilerplate post containing my book's blurb, buy links, and cover. My photo and bio were also displayed. Of course, there was a huge giveaway.
     This is one of the few times I've paid for promotion. While it was costly, it gave me access to new blogs and new audiences. All the work was done for me--and having organized a book tour in the past, I appreciated not having to spend hours and hours emailing and organizing. The result? Check out one of the blogs who hosted my book blast--and enter the contest while you still can!

  • Goodreads: If you are a Goodreads author (and you really should be) you should give serious though to offering your book in a Goodreads giveaway. You spark a lot of interest in your new book just by giving one away, since most entrants also add your book to their Want to Read shelf. Consider opening your giveaway to all countries available--the international readers will appreciate it and you'll expand your potential audience. The downside is the cost of extra postage, but that's pretty much it.
    There are also several--okay, a ton--of groups on Goodreads. I belong to a number of them that have review request programs. An author will offer a set number of books to giveaway in exchange for reviews. I've gotten some great reviews this way, and it didn't cost a penny (not that you should ever have to pay for reviews.)
  • Swag: Okay, it costs money to get good swag but, thanks to places like Vistaprint.com or Print Runner, you've got affordable options. My favorites? Magnets and t-shirts, because everyone I know either owns a refrigerator or wears clothing. (Sometimes, they do both.) A word of warning: a brick of magnets will get you pulled out of line for a bag search in an airport, so put them in the tray to save time getting through security.
This list is far from complete but it's an excellent start for the author getting ready to promote themselves--and each of these can be accomplished without ever getting up from the computer.

What about you? Have you used a technique or an event to promote your work? Was it effective? Share your experience with us!

Ash Krafton is a speculative fiction writer who resides in the heart of the Pennsylvania coal region, where she keeps the book jacket for "Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter" in a frame over her desk. Visit Ash's blog at www.ash-krafton.blogspot.com for news on her urban fantasy "Bleeding Hearts: Book One of the Demimonde" (Pink Narcissus Press 2012).


Wendy said...

I just started a blog this week, so the information in this post is perfect timing! Thanks, Ash.

Lucianne Poole said...

Thanks for the useful post! Another suggestion relates to your social media point - use hashtags on your Tweets. These help you reach folks who are not following you.
Also, use the social media platform(s) used by your audience eg. Facebook is particularly popular among women.