by Raelene Gorlinsky
Question from Diana: It seems like authors are expected to do most of the promotional work for their books. What avenues should I be looking at to promote my upcoming new release and my backlist?
Unless you're a huge bestselling author (or this season's pick at your publisher for pushing as the next big breakout author), then it is indeed up to you market your book. Nowadays, marketing dollars at publishers are very limited, especially for genre fiction. The marketing budget may, in fact, be just enough to cover the cost of cover art. Publishers (from the big boys in NY through the smallest epubs) mainly expect the author to handle the promotion and marketing of their books and their author name.
Have you taken any of the many workshops on self-promotion and book marketing that are offered by most author organizations? If your story is contracted by a publisher, do you have a plan for how you will promote the book?
Here are some basics on what you as an author (or aspiring author) should be doing to promote. So much of promotion these days is online. Do you have a website, blog, e-newsletter? Do you maintain a presence on the social networks - MySpace, Facebook, Bebo, etc, etc? (However, avoid overextending or spending all your time online instead of writing your next book. Pick a few places to concentrate on.) Do you keep all those online items regularly updated? You want people to keep coming back - which they won't do if the content doesn't change. (Tip: It lessens the workload if you share a joint website or blog with other authors who write in your genre. And you draw a bigger fan base that way.) Consider a virtual book tour. Check with your publisher to be sure your book is submitted to online review sites; if the publisher doesn't handle that, do it yourself.
Don't just be online - do things "in person" also. Do you belong to writing groups that offer you networking and cross-promotional opportunities? Can you attend reader/fan conferences to get face time with readers and opportunities to promote your book? Booksignings? Presentations at libraries or schools? Submit articles for magazines and newsletters to get your name known and have an opportunity to mention your titles. Place affordable ads in magazines for your target readership.
My favorite promotional advice involves "tie-ins". Is there some special theme or element or topic in your novel - like a hobby or profession or special location? If you write a mystery series about a chef, try advertising in a culinary magazine! If your story is set in a real place, are there promotional or sales opportunities you could exploit? Some bookstores will give featured space to books about their town/state or by local authors. The gift shops at museums and parks and historical sites are sometimes willing to stock novels that are set at their site. Did you write a well-researched and historically accurate pirate romance? There are pirate reinactment groups - contact them to see if they might be willing to review your book in their magazine or on their website, or let you submit an article to them, or come to one of their events to promote your book.
Your potential income from a book is dependent on how much you put into publicizing your book and your author name.
So let's hear from some of you. What promotional efforts have you found most or least effective?
Do you have a question about the publishing process - submission through release and after - that you've always wanted to ask? Send it to RedlinesDeadlines@gmail.com, and we'll give you the benefit of our shared wisdom.