Chin in the palm of my hand, plot lines and characters forgotten, I imagine a flurry of activity around my make-shift office. There’s someone on the phone, arranging radio and newspaper press releases. Another has a calendar, making mad notations about yet another book signing. A quiet guy in skinny jeans and a Club Monaco shirt is returning emails from bloggers and reviewers, sending out review copies and queuing up interview questions. And there are no less than half a dozen interns, legs shackled to a long table, each pounding away at their laptops, sending out Tweets and Facebook statuses and checking in with every single social medium that has my name on an account. If they are lucky, I will let them have a water break around noon.
Then, my focus returns, and it’s just me again. No interns, no Club Monaco shirt guy. Just me, and my book, and a red spot on my forehead from face-planting on my desk, defeated.
THE AUTHOR: A TEAM OF ONE
When my first book came out in 2012, I had only one burning plan. It was THE PLAN. I was gonna have myself a blog tour. I figured it would be a great way to get my new book in front of the audiences I wanted to woo.
Visibility. That was the target.
I researched book blogs and review sites and other authors in my genre and I emailed each one, announcing my soon-to-be released book and asking if they’d be interested in hosting me. I had review copies. I had graphics. I had blurbs and links. And I had a mountain of hope in my soul.
And nearly had a coronary as the responses came in. The huge majority were happy to help. Would I like to do an interview or send in a guest post? I responded enthusiastically. Of course I would---I’d love to! I ended up booking a full month of blog stops... and I could not wait to get started.
Looking back, I wonder how I survived it all. I learned very quickly the tremendous amount of work that goes into a blog tour. The emails. The organizing. The scheduling. The writing of guest posts and original material. The visits to each stop, several times a day, to thank and engage and respond. The reminders to my socials to invite my readers and friends and family and the strangers who friended me on Facebook and everybody within shouting distance to visit that day’s stop.
Work, work, work, work, work.
Was it effective? Sure. The book got a ton of exposure, and I met readers and bloggers along that tour who have stuck by me since. Most of all, I attained the main objective: visibility. I even learned loads of new stuff, including the most important lesson of all—you can never do too much promotion.
That’s exhausting. I get tired just writing about it.
So why write about it?
Because promotion is still a key element in the success of my books. I’m an indie writer. I’ve published novels with small presses, self-produced several ebook anthologies of my shorter work, and am preparing to enter the final stages of production on my first self-produced novel. (And, because I have so much free time *snort* I’m developing a poetry chap book.)
However, I don’t get to just sit and write and plan and produce…I have a backlist to promote. I will always have a backlist to promote. Difference between 2012 and today is that now I have a handful of irons in the fire, and I simply don’t have the time to run an exhaustive blog tour.
I’d already known that visibility is essential for success, and that being a trending topic wouldn’t hurt, either. But how can we get that visibility without losing precious writing time?
Good thing that the big wide world of book promotion is huge and varied and full of helpful people and services. After all, a great philosopher once said “A single view alone does not a trend make.”
THE AUTHOR’S FANTASY PR TEAM
BOOK PROMOTION COMPANIES have taken most of the stress out of planning tours. For a fee, you can schedule the blog tour of your dreams, whether it be a one-day blast or a four-week tour. Best part is that they come with built-in connections to bloggers and reviewers, something a new author may not yet have.
GOODREADS is a writer’s best friend and is essential for the success of your book. My favorite parts? Participating in group Read and Review programs and offering print copies of my book in the First Reads giveaway program.
FACEBOOK and TWITTER are by now old hat for writers. We know the importance of using our social media powers and the benefits of having a healthy following. The trick most of us need to learn, therefore, is not the why…it’s the how. How can we get use of social media, knowing that Facebook can turn on us at any moment and pull us into its time-sucking vortex of memes and kitteh pictures?
Multi-tasking, that’s how. Use a platform that gets one message sent across all your outlets. Hootsuite lets you organize your accounts, pick any or all of them for a particular message, even schedule announcements. It’s free. It’s got owls on it. Win, win, win.
SMART PHONES really are clever little things, with their cameras and their Candy Crush and their awesome little app stores. My phone is my main command center, even when it comes to engaging my readers. I multi-send my announcements from my Windows phone using Unishare. And I love Instagram because I can send a picture AND a text message to every single medium I have. In a world where I have less time than ever before, I adore a time saver.
Another thing that would help is everybody talking about your book, preferably at the same time, so that you might attain the enlightened state of virality.
THUNDERCLAP and HEADTALKER are another no-cost way to make a big noise with a single message. These crowd speaking platforms allow you to create a message, enlist the help of fellow social media addicts, and launch a campaign that, if successful, will get your announcement sent out on a particular day and time by everyone. People can “donate” a Tweet or a Facebook status to promote your message. Hit it just right, get enough help, and you just might start to trend. I created a Thunderclap and a simultaneous Headtalker campaign to promote free Kindle days for my last release, along with a slew of other promotional efforts. The bulk of my downloads came shortly after those campaigns went live. Never underestimate the power of a crowd.
Remember that great philosopher, who said it best: “What is the sound of one Tweet tweeting?” That’s deep thinking there.
(For a first-hand look at Thunderclap and Headtalker, check out my current campaigns at http://thndr.it/1wm1k1J and https://headtalker.com/campaigns/smart-steamy-fantasy-romance/ I hope you’ll even join the crowd.)
FREE & BARGAIN EBOOK SITES are officially too numerous to mention them all. Some offer you an opportunity to submit a listing at no cost, while others will list your book for a fee (I’ve found the fees can range anywhere from three to three hundred dollars.) Such services may list your book ad (basically cover, blurb, and links) on their website, include your book in their daily emails to targeted subscribers, and may even pimp it out on their various social media. I query Bookbub for each of my promotions but have yet to get my golden ticket from them. (Kind of like the good old days, when I’d send out submission after hopeful submission, only to get yet another form rejection. Ah. Good times…)
Entire lists of websites like these can be found with a simple search for “free sites to promote ebook”. Some of my favorites include Fussy Librarian, Awesome Gang, Ebook Soda, Ebook Lister, and Book Gorilla.
If you have free Kindle books, try hitting up these Tweeters: @DigitalBkToday @kindleebooks @Kindlestuff @KindleEbooksUK @KindleBookKing @KindleFreeBook @FreeReadFeed @4FreeKindleBook (Of course, there’s a billion more like them so keep looking!)
AND THE LISTS GO ON…
There’s no practical way to get every possible option into a single article…so thank goodness for comment forms. Take a moment to share your favorite promotion tip with the rest of us.
And remember... keep writing. A wise person once said "The way to eat an elephant is one bite at a time." (That's a goofy one, but I swear somebody said it.)
Click to Tweet:
My recent release, a fantasy romance called WORDS THAT BIND, is on sale for a limited time…I'd be thrilled if you shared with your readers. See crowdspeaking in action! : )
"Some wishes should be Forbidden... WORDS THAT BIND by @AshKrafton #fantasy #romance #ebook on sale $.99"
Ash Krafton is a speculative fiction writer who, despite having a Time Turner under her couch and three different sonic screwdrivers in her purse, still encounters difficulty with time management. Visit Ash at www.ashkrafton.com for news on her urban fantasy series The Books of the Demimonde (Pink Narcissus Press). Her paranormal romance WORDS THAT BIND (The Wild Rose Press) is available and on sale for 99 cents through January 22, 2014.