5 Resolutions for the Reluctant Book Promoter
I have worked with hundreds of authors over the span of my career, and there is one phenomenon I see time and time again that never ceases to amaze me. It’s when an author ushers their little baby out into the world, participates in the first month or two of activities, and then melts away into the background.
Now, if we are to take the analogy of a baby a little further, let’s consider how this would work with a real baby. Would you prepare the nursery, buy all the paraphernalia, plan the hospital stay, prepare for the birth, choose a name, and then, two months later, leave it out on the doorstep? No, of course not.
It is very similar with your book baby. You have worked so hard on this. You have done all the preparation—in many cases, years of honing your craft, working with teachers, coaches, mentors, and peers. You have taken writing classes, perhaps, or worked with writing groups. You have spent countless hours writing your story, doing research, editing, and finalizing your plans for publication.
Then the day comes. I have worked with authors who have done amazing promotion for their launches—started a blog, a Facebook page, mailed postcards. Then, curiously, two months after the launch, it seems that they simply get tired of it (and wonder why their book is not selling). I have seen this happen with authors published by major NYC houses as well as self-published authors.
Life after Launch
The idea of a big launch and that all-important initial burst of publicity is to get your baby out there in the world with a splash. But this is not the end. As many will tell you, this is merely the beginning. Your book has life in it as long as you continue to perform the necessary CPR.
Resolve to promote your book as long as you can. The first three months are the period when your book will be seen as new enough to be covered by traditional media. But continue beyond that, too. There is a world of readers out there looking for something interesting to read. And they are not always looking for the newest thing. It is a big thrill for a reader to discover something that lay buried, like a hidden jewel. Your book could be that jewel, but it will be much easier for readers to find if you don’t let it get buried.
How can you promote a book months after publication? Resolve to continue your online efforts. If you’ve started a blog, continue with that. Don’t let it simply peter out. Blogs can take years to catch on. Find your focus and continue writing short, relevant posts. Become a part of that online community. Do guests posts on other blogs. Continue all of the online activities that you started prior to launch. And don’t be afraid to add more or trade something that isn’t working for something else. If Facebook isn’t working out for you, explore Tumblr, Twitter, or Pinterest.
Resolve to continue to attend events (you have been doing that, haven’t you?). Continue to visit your local bookstores and libraries. Resolve to submit your book for consideration for awards, submit proposals for speaking engagements at book festivals and other related events. Many of these events will consider a book published in the last year, so you have to watch for their submissions to open again. Try something you have never done—after all, you are now a published author. Maybe you could teach a class, based on the research you did for your book. Start out by proposing this to your local library or community ed program.
Resolve to look for new ways to reach readers, particularly with niche markets. Explore bulk sales, school visits, retail opportunities and more, with appropriate contacts. Always consider your target market carefully, and try to think apart from the normal book markets. Who could benefit from your information? I heard a story recently about a book for doctors that was marketed to a pharmaceutical company whose sales reps used it for a giveaway.
Resolve to continue to build your contact list, be available to readers (can you say book clubs?), and continue to think of new ways to build your readership. If your book is already printed, insert a postcard into each book offering an extra item, whether it’s a bonus short story, a white paper, or some other (preferably electronic) freebie, and give these out in exchange for that reader’s email address. Use technology to your advantage, instead of being overwhelmed by it.
Now I know that some of you are saying “How can I possibly do this and still work and write and have a life?” But this is what you signed up for, isn’t it? It’s simple: your expectations must equal your effort. And your effort must equal your expectations. If you have visions of your book helping people, winning awards, and being read by happy readers, then it’s really up to you to make that happen. Don’t give up. Resolve to make this the Year of Your Book.
Linda White runs BookMania, helping authors and publishers with editorial and publicity needs, and The Publishing Bones, a website which offers help for writers on the business side of publishing. She will be teaching "Publicity for Authors" on March 22 at the Loft.