How to market and promote a book. There are a number of creative, effective and inexpensive ways.
As an author, you've spent months, maybe even years working on your novel, and finally after trudging through agents, publishers, rejection letters and pessimistic friends, you're holding your finished book in your hands. But don't bask in the glow of accomplishment for too long. The real work is just beginning.
Whatever path you chose for your book, whether it's published by a major publisher, co- publisher, self-publisher, Office Depot and Kinko's, or your handy lap-top and HP laser jet printer, no one will know about it unless you are ready to take the next step; marketing and promotion. Unless you have mega-bucks to hire your own publicist or marketing company, you will spend about ten percent of your time writing and 110 percent working hard to have what you wrote, read.
Contrary to the opinion of professional PR firms, there are many low cost ways to promote yourself and your book. The easiest, and least expensive is to make your own business cards using your home computer and printer. If you don't live near a store that sells pre-designed business cards, there is an excellent catalogue company called Paper Direct that carries a complete line of business stationery. (order their catalogue by calling 1-800-4-papers.) You might find a theme card that will work well with your promotional material as well as matching brochures, postcards and letterhead.
Colorful cards are attention getters. I use several different designs for my writing in general and a more specific design for my novel which has a picture of a wine bottle and glass on it. I've printed the caption "Wake Up with Red Wine For Breakfast" a small one line description of my book, phone number and web site. The computer printed cards work well if you're going to a lot of different events. At the recent L.A. Times Book Festival, I substituted my phone number with the booth location number so when I handed out the cards on site, people could find the location of where to purchase my book.
At my recent booksigning event, I replaced the booth location, with the Barnes and Noble's store address and phone number. All these changes were free. The box of 500 cards was just under $30.00, and if you print out only what you'll need, you can use them for any event or promotional occasion.
Free ink is always the best. If you have children, they are an excellent source of free press and promotion. Buy some iron-on transfer paper and make your own t-shirts with a picture of the cover of your book on one side, your web site, or other information on how to buy your book on the back. Strongly suggest they wear it on "story telling days" at your local library or book store, especially if you're holding a booksigning there. City events in the park, street fairs, parades, anywhere there are crowds, take the kiddies. PTA events, school and extracurricular activities all are excellent places to promote your book. Cute little kids make excellent billboards! The cost is low (maybe some ice cream) and the exposure is high. Of course this won't work if your children are pre-teen or teenagers. Unless you're book is cool.
Your car is another excellent advertising tool. Traffic is an wonderful opportunity to promote your book. If your state has personalized license plates, find a way to put yourself or your book title on the plate. (Mine reads: GR82B RW) However, if this is impractical, find a company that makes personalized license plate holders. Mine is red with white lettering and has "Wake up with Red Wine For Breakfast" imprinted on the top line, and my web site on the bottom line. If you own a truck, you can have magnetic signs made of the cover and display your book right on your vehicle!
If you're in the business community, join the local Chamber of Commerce. Attend mixers, breakfast meetings, network to anyone and everyone. Do NOT be shy about your book, (but don't be obnoxious either!) People will be more inclined to buy books from author's they know, especially if you personally autograph their copy!
Make a list of the local bookstores in your area, and contact their community relations managers. Both Barnes and Noble and Borders has a complete listing of their store's locations on their site. And if you are invited to a store, don't forget to bring a gift for the person who made the booking. I give them pewter pens that I sell in my store because they're not available anywhere locally. Hopefully, they will tell other CMR's of your generosity and will schedule an event for you just for the free gift!
Collect all promotional material written about you and your book. Make copies of all your interviews, reviews, articles, photos and create a full press kit for radio and local television stations. Try to get on your local cable shows that may have topics related to you or your book. Create a new angle to promote yourself. Radio and television interview shows are saturated with authors looking to talk about their books. Find a new approach, something interesting that will spark their interest. I've written an article about the new "Electronic Publishing Revolution" and have been receiving a great deal of press on the subject, and I always find a way to promote my novel, which takes place in a Los Angeles radio station, especially when trying to book a radio talk show.
On the Internet, one of the best sites for information on marketing and promotion can be found at iUniverse authors tool kit. Here you will find sections on Publicity, Marketing, Cracking the Media and Essentials for marketing and promoting your book. It's a huge source of valuable information, but it will be up to you as to how much of it you use. Join the www.egroup.com and check out the many lists about writing, publishing and marketing. I have my own list for Print On Demand authors, and belong to three others where we share ideas and support each other's efforts.
Another excellent and inexpensive way to get your book into the hands of reviewers is send them disk versions of your work. Most authors write their novels on a PC, saving their files in a variety of formats. Once their book is published, getting it into the hands of reviewers can be a costly process, both in the cost of the books and in the postage. No longer. Adobe had created the perfect way to promote your entire novel in an easy and inexpensive way. Their site can save any file, up to three, for FREE! Once saved, it can be copied onto disks which can then be mailed to anyone with an Adobe program, which can also be downloaded from their site for FREE. This is an excellent way for authors to send out copies of their books, provided you send an email with instructions as to how to upload your file. You can also use this method to offer an "ebook" of your novel as a tease, or sell them at a fraction of the cost for those who are interested in this new and exciting format.
Most importantly, schedule your time. If possible, plan one or two days a week, to concentrate on the marketing aspect of your new career. Avoid unnecessary meetings, clubs and activities that take away from your main focus: to get your book and yourself noticed! Don't join a lot of writer's clubs. Those that can, write. Those that can't go to meetings. And those who attend meetings very rarely buy or read other member's books! At this stage of your writing career, there are only two things you should be doing in your spare time: writing and promoting your work.
Remember, overnight success takes about 10 years. You will become very educated, very tired, and very satisfied when you see all your hard work pay off.