If you are running a business, you know that promotion is a must have part of your overall marketing plan. And being an author is like running a business.
The problem is, I am a die hard introvert. Among other things, that makes blowing my own horn borderline impossible.
Prairie Writers and Illustrators Day (PWID) conference in October.
I learned about things authors should begin doing in the months before their book is published:
- Aggressively build a social media platform (being sure to focus on “you” and not your book)
- Connect with other authors (social media, online communities, new author publicity groups, associations in common, etc.)
- Get involved with author communities (i.e., volunteer to be a judge in writers contests, to become a mentor, etc.)
- Brainstorm marketing ideas like holiday or seasonal tie-ins and different methods of outreach. Click HERE to take a look at a prior RTG post on the outreach efforts of one group of authors a few years ago.
- Sign up for writers conferences or other types of professional conferences occurring after your publication date at which you can sell or promote your book.
- Reach out to book clubs or other groups who might be interested in your book and/or in hearing you speak.
- Coordinate with your agent or editor about submitting your book to eligible awards.
Having readers know an author by name is practically a holy grail. Nora Roberts, JK Rowling, James Patterson, Jodi Piccolt - these are all name brands to their readers who feel like they know these authors personally. They actively seek out new books bearing these author's names. Finding one is like being invited over to a friend's home for dinner.
Get your fans to go to their local libraries and request your books. Many libraries listen to patron requests. After all, librarians want books that will circulate, and a request means the book will go out at least once. Use your news letters, blogs and other venues to recruit volunteers to help spread the word. Sometimes we authors call them "street teams", people who love our work and will spread the word about our new books. Make them feel a part of your family with special news items just for members, treats and give-aways. In return, their enthusiasm can get their friends and relatives to become your fans.
Side note, you should also get your fans to check your books out of libraries. The more an author’s books circulate, the more likely they are to believe future books will do the same, and therefore will more likely buy your next book.
That brought the next lesson - Authors need to have marketing plans that include actively promote themselves. We have to communicate our product and brand...ourselves to potential readers. This is different from the "buy my book" advertising too many authors sometimes flood social media with. That kind of thing does not promote a feeling of friendship, it turns people off.
So, have a platform, something you are passionate about and are willing to spend the time and effort to share. Then find like-minded groups and do so. Today, social media, twitter, facebook, instagram, etc., have groups and societies for almost any area. Get active. Post original content once or twice a week to show your expertise and opinions. Also share the content of others. Comment on them early and often, but don't get sucked into controversies that could make people remember you for the wrong thing. Friend people, respond to comments on your posts.
Build a community, so when you do begin posting advertising and information about your new release, people who see you social media will know who you are. Because they know and care about you, you increase the odds they will want to get your book. (It's kind of like not telling a lot of backstory until after readers have learned to care about your characters.)
Lee & Low Books. You may have noticed I have changed my opening picture for my posts. Those were her first words, to have the new cover out front and center everywhere. Her next piece of advice was that I needed to do more with my personal blog - http://www.babinns.com/barbarabinnsblog/. The consultant told me I had information that others would want to know about, my knowledge of diversity and multiculturalism in the publishing and educational arena. Show people what I know. Transfer what I speak about to short blog posts. Twitter is actually more fun for me, I like twitter where I have to condense. I am not a fan of the longer length. Nevertheless, I have begun doing more blogging recently, and will try to pick it up. My consultant reminded me that twitter does take time to build an audience. Hence that cycle is another of the list of things that needs to begin long before the publication date.
As an author of young adult and middle grade books, I also market to schools, and gleaned some extra tips about that. The first is that the library and school market are different and need different approaches. Librarians are primarily interested in what is new. Schools want to see what fits into curricular needs. They can be interested in a book years after the publication date if it appears useful to them and their students. That means it is feasible to continue marketing backlists to schools, as long as it fits what they are looking for.
And that means this introvert has to start planning for even more school visits and conference presentations for next fall. Please pray for me.