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Friday, September 21, 2012

Self-publishing: promotions

Like a lot of writers, I'm an introvert. Socially awkward. I tend toward the gloomy and the "oh-God-I-suck" side. I've been looking at how to promote Disciple, making some plans, and this is what I've worked out so far.

Blog tours
Trawl (not troll) around the blogosphere and work up a list of blogs relevant to your genre. Email their owners to ask if they'd be interested in a guest post, interview, review, giveaway, whatever is most appropriate. Some are bound to say yes. Work out a schedule. Write what you need to. Blog about it yourself.

This can be very repetitive, and it's a good idea to write up not only your pitches and short synopsis (I use my query, for that) but also an author's biography and some stock paragraphs ahead of time. You do want to tailor your emails, your guest blog posts, etc., to each situation, but working from a template will save brainpower.

Things to have on hand: that pitch, the short synopsis, a biography, answers to common interview questions like "When did you start writing?" or "Where do you get your ideas?", a couple guest blog posts (see this list).

This has rapidly become the place to give away free copies of your story in exchange for reviews. It seems like a pretty wild and woolly place, and I'm still getting my feet wet over there.

Book blogs
There are indexes of book blogs out there (BookBlogger's list for SF/F) but you need to comb through them to see which are still active, which are accepting books, and which are trying to dig out from under their submissions. It goes without saying, but you also need to limit yourself to book bloggers who read your genre. Because book bloggers are usually swamped with stuff to read, this is a long-range promotional strategy. It's still quite viable because your ebook will be always be available, regardless of whether the review goes up in three months or eleven months. Make sure the links you send your book bloggers remain functional!

I used this
bookmark design
for Disciple's
Kickstarter campaign.
That's not the
final cover art.
Bookmarks and postcards
These are Cheap Things to Give Away. Online printers are happy to run off a pile of bookmarks or postcards for a reasonable price. You can leave them on freebie tables at conventions. You can tack them to community bulletin boards at local coffee shops. Have some on hand if someone asks, "What do you do?" "Oh, I'm a writer, this is my book..." (Hey, it could happen.) Make sure that they are:
  • Pretty. Use that book cover art you spent so much $$ on. 
  • Informative. Book title, author name, genre. Web page. Be sure the person can find you!
  • Throwing out a hook. Use your Twitter-sized pitch. Maybe your short synopsis will fit on the back?
And get feedback on your design before you send it off. The last thing you need is a typo to make you look like an idiot, or that lovely cover art turning into a  blob because you shrank it down so much.

What other promotions have you seen, or tried?

Question answered: 
Dezmond asked, but I can't reply to comments on this site, so -- the Big Six publishers are: Macmillan, Hachette, Penguin, HarperCollins, Random House, and Simon & Schuster. They each own many smaller imprints, as well as publishing under their own names. (Macmillan owns Tor, for example.)


Charity Bradford said...

Great post. I'm using some of your links today to round out my blog tour list.

I wonder why it won't let you comment. That's really weird.

Tyrean Martinson said...

Thanks for this informative, useful, and just plain awesome post. I'll be saving it for near-future reference. I'm getting down to that last round of polishing my novel, have a cover artist working for me, and . . .it's almost time to get the marketing stuff going . . .almost.

Liz said...

The main reason I'm loathe to publish: promotion. That's the hard part.

DEZMOND said...

ooh, thanks for the answer, sister.
I've never heard only of Hachette, the rest are well known to me and I've worked with all of them as a translator, especially with Harper Collins and Random House.

When it comes to today's post, I'd only add that with blog tours authors should be careful not to over do it. When some of them visit hundreds of blogs and you get their book and pretty much the same text on all of those blogs, it can be seriously off putting to readers.

TerryLynnJohnson said...

I like bookmarks! Easy to give out, mail, and leave around town. But I think the best promo is really word of mouth. Hard to tap into it though! I can have you on my blog if you'd like?

mshatch said...

I agree with Liz; the amount of promotion one has to do seems daunting.

Charity Bradford said...

I agree the marketing side seems overwhelming. That's why you should start preparing way in advance. Then you can plan/write/whatever things one at a time without feeling the time crunch pressure.

OMGosh, I love the 50 guest post ideas link! I've started writing some of these to get ready for my book release tour in a few months. It's giving me something to do when writer's block hits me, and it makes me feel like the future event will be easy to handle.

I highly suggest giving the list a look over. ;)

Susan Gourley/Kelley said...

I'm still trying to get the full benefits of Goodreads. I find it easier to get distracted there than on FB.

Haddock said...

Macmillan is the oldest among them I suppose.