Saturday, February 09, 2008

Five Quick Novel and Non-Fiction Promotion Strategies That Work, One That Doesn't

By Ned Barnett - (c) 2009

Here are five quick strategies that work for authors and novelists, especially those who don’t get a lot of support from their publishers, and one – the first one – that doesn't work, although logic suggests that it should.

1. 1. The one that doesn’t work: Book signings at bookstores don’t really work for you – unless you’re Sean Hannity or Bill O’Reilly or Tom Clancy, book signings can feel good, but they don’t really move a lot of books and seldom generate any publicity. Getting publicity is something else – and while a book signing can be a hook (“I’ll be in town and would like to do a quick radio interview”), it’s not a strong hook.

2. 2. A way to make Signings work: Book signings at special events that seem tied to the book theme do a much better job of moving books, but they’re harder to find. However, given the sales potential, they’re worth the effort

3. 3. Another way to make Signings work: Book signings at talks that you give seem to move books much better as well – the trick is getting speaking gigs. You have to promote these separately from the book, which may distract you from promoting your book, but the sales potential may make this a reasonable trade-off.

4. 4. Volume group sales are more profitable than individual sales, even when the sales are discounted. However, the trick is to find groups that tie into the theme or setting of the book, and persuade them to buy your book in quantity to give or re-sell to members.

5. 5. Networking: “Working” your alumni, church, civic and fraternal organizations is another way to build brand equity (name recognition) and sell books. A surprising number of people This same process can go online with:

6. 6. Social Networking: Online social media is emerging as an effective promotion tool for writers. They key networking tools include email lists and phone/SMS lists (for real Web 3.0 impact, nothing beats a short-and-sweet text message).

a. Networking sites include FaceBook, which is on the way up, big-time, and MySpace, which began to crash-and-burn last July. Its numbers are way off – but still hug – but MySpace has become a Youth site and very not useful except for YA authors. Linkedin and Plaxo and a few other networking sites are growing in popularity and potential. Right now, Twitter’s getting all the buzz – though so far traffic is still relatively small.

b. The key to Social Media marketing – “make friends” and “network” – then get the word out to your “friends” and ask them to spread the word. If you’re lucky and good (and sometimes it’s better to be lucky than good, but both is better still), “viral” will take off and you’ll find people you’ve never heard of wanting to be your friend (on the network) and buying your books and spreading the word.

c. Social Networking lets strangers feel like you’re an author who’s also a friend, someone they can brag on, an excellent sales motivator. For more on this, the free e-book “The New Rules of PR (for online PR) is two years old but still useful:

d. Create your own Social Network by setting up websites and newsletters that link in buyers of previous books. This can create a demand for a new book (Lawrence Block has done this effectively, as has Janet Evanovich). Think of your author website and e-newsletter as the core elements of your own private Social Network.

These strategies work, but only if you work these strategies.