Okay, I just wanted to rhyme. Maybe I should write this post in Suess style…nah, too much work. Tuesday! I’m going to blather about promo today, from the publisher standpoint.

Yesterday, author Babe (Lyndell) King blogged about her frustrations with promo in relation to the fact that her book, Bride’s Maid in Heaven (part of the anthology Brides and Bouqets 2006), hasn’t sold as well as she’d like and she believes it might be, not because the book isn’t good, but because her promo hasn’t been as up to par as it might be, mainly because she’s uncomfortable with the idea of appearing the promo whore (my words, not hers). Specifically, she says:

The truth is, I hate shoving myself up people’s noses. For one thing, it’s messy and green has never been my color. And the promo I’ve read from others is often such guff it makes me cringe. It’s burdening our already overfull dumpsites, both the landfill and the hole between our ears. I mean, really, how many books truly are “the best story you’ll read all year?” I’m yet to “die laughing”, and though some of the “awesome authors” do indeed have me gobsmacked, it is mostly because I wonder who they slept with to get their tripe into print…

…How is it everyone tells me how well I write yet I sell so few books? I don’t get it. I want my work in readers hands, but I don’t want to oversell it or lie. I can guarantee you will laugh if you buy my book, but you will not lose weight, get rich in three weeks or attract vast crowds of the opposite sex. Sorry. (However should you find a true way to do these things let me know about it, okay?)

I responded in Babe’s blog comments, but I also told her I was going to bring it here, to talk about promo today.

As an editor, my expectations for my authors are that they’ll get their names out there. Not shove their egos in people’s faces, but build their name recogntion. Not all promo is about how great your book is. In fact, I think you’ll find that some authors never say that. They let others say it for them with reviews, cover quotes, etc. What an author good at publicity does do is get their name in front of readers as often as possible, because, especially in e-publishing, but also in mainstream publishing, you are fighting for people’s book dollars and like voting and politics, people will often go with who they know or who they recognize.

As I said on Babe’s blog, it’s why some authors will say there’s no such thing as bad publicity. Because people will buy a book that got a bad review, that got tanked in public, to see if it was really that bad. OR they’ll see the bad publicity, and the name of the author and/or book will stick in their mind. So as they’re standing in the bookstore or surfing e-publishers they’ll stumble across that book. Maybe they won’t remember where they saw it discussed or why, but they’ll remember and recognize it. And maybe buy it.

I know a lot of authors who write fantastic books, who have a killer instinct for characters and story and plot. But they are either too afraid to promo or don’t think promo is necessary so their books languish in sales. I hear people say that all you have to do is write a good book and it will sell itself. I can’t agree with that. With the advent of e-publishing, the creation of more lines at major NY publishers, there are too many good books out there these days for that to be true. Now, readers need to choose between the good books.

At Samhain, I can, to a certain extent, tell when I see the sales, who’s been working hard at promo and who’s expecting their book to sell itself (please note this is a generalization because there are some books that have been exception to this). Sales numbers often reflect time invested in promo. And if you’re wondering, when it comes time to buy another book from an author, if whether they’ve done their part at promo makes a difference to me as an editor, the answer is yes. Even if the book wasn’t the #1 (or even #10) bestseller, I’ll buy another book from an author if I see them working to get their name out there and their books are good.

My schedule is currently being booked into 2007. It’s important to me to fill my schedule with books I think are well-written and which will sell well. More and more authors are showing interest in writing for Samhain. How do I choose how I’ll fill the limited spots in my schedule? As I read submissions, I also research the authors. I look to see if they keep websites, are they up-to-date? Do they blog? Are they participating in forums, groups, contests, etc. Granted, this is harder for newer authors to show before being published, but there are still things to look for, even with unpubbed authors (blogs, websites, and other things). Does your author name pop up when I Google you and show some activity? Or is it as though you were just plopped on the earth when you subbed to me?

Some publishers have asked for marketing plans as part of their submissions package. Samhain doesn’t go that far, but it doesn’t mean that we don’t care about your skills at promo. Just as authors want to know that their publisher is going to work for them, promoting authors, books and the publisher, we want to know that you’re going to do your part. We’re demonstrating that we believe in your work by contracting it and investing time and money in it, how are you going to show us that you believe in your work as well?

Promo isn’t always about how wonderful, fantabulously awesome your book is. I agree, that can get annoying. Promo is about building name recognition. Authors who’ve been published for several years will tell you it’s about building a backlist. Why? Because with each book released and promo’d, your name is getting in front of the reader repeatedly. And with new releases, your backlist will sell as new readers discover you and remember and recognize your name (hello, Dan Brown anyone?). In an ideal world, being an author would mean only writing the best book possible. In reality, being an author usually means writing the best book possible and then selling it to the readers. Every single day.

As an end to this (long) post, here are some promo tips/ideas:
*Use a sig line in your emails, yahoo groups, forum messages. But keep it short. I click on links in signatures probably every day, but I don’t read epics in signatures and I won’t even bother with them. We could probably do a post on sig lines alone, but include your most recent book title, your website and/or blog address and a catchy tag line. Just as in anything, if you have a long paragraph, you’re going to lose your reader’s attention before you’ve ever gotten it.

*Blog. If you’re going to blog, blog often. And use your blog effectively. That means your book cover on the sidebar, your author name in a prominent place on the blog (I read many blogs where it’s a bit of a mystery just what the posters name is) a link to where readers can buy the book in the sidebar. Maybe a few review snippets. Links to your publisher, so they can browse your backlist, link to your website.

Using as an example, Babe, who was frustrated about promo, if you look at her blog, you won’t be able to tell what her book is called (she refers to it as Bride’s Maid in Heaven but in reality that’s the title of her story in the anthology, not the book title, which is Brides and Bouquets 2006). Her name is listed as Babe King on the sidebar, but Googling Babe King gets you links to a photo gallery and her blogger profile–which doesn’t do you much good if you came from her blog 😉 Turns out she uses Lyndell King as her author name (so she’s made it doubly hard for you to find her book, no book title and a different author name. Eep! I see why Babe is frustrated!) I hope Babe doesn’t take offense at me using her blog as an example.

Conversely, I chose another author at random, Rene Lyons. Her blog has her name in the address (which can be helpful) so it’s the second hit that comes up when you Google her (right after her website). She’s got her name prominently on the blog, her cover of her book in the sidebar along with a link to where to buy it now. Under the cover, she’s got a cover quote from Mandy M. Roth. She also has listed a few upcoming books. She then has links to her website, her MySpace page, signing up for her newsletter and to her publisher.

I said blog often (at least several times a week). But don’t blog only about your book sales and reviews and promo. Readers have said repeatedly that they have no reason to visit a blog that only promos the book. Who goes to an advertisment only site for enjoyment? Blog about things you enjoy, blog about your writing process, your dog, the car you’re rebuilding…just blog.

*Website. Keep it updated, keep it looking professional and make it easy to maneuver. If you’re technologically challenged, get help designing it. Your website is an investment, if people google you, this is where they will often land first. It’s like walking into someone’s house for the first time. You want it to create a good first impression. I have a dislike of the free websites, but that’s my personal bias because I don’t think hosting is so expensive that people can’t invest (there’s that word again) in an ad-free website.

*MySpace. Can be time intensive, but I know several authors who MySpace has worked very well for, in garnering new fans. Especially true, from my experience, for authors of paranormal/vamp type books.

*Newsletters. Can be an easy way to let readers know of contests, upcoming releases and updates.

*Yahoo groups. Are not for everyone and there’s a glut of them out there. But there are publisher’s yahoo groups as well as review site groups and romance readers groups. Participate in those so people start recognizing your name.

*Contests–as in giving things away. Places like Romance Junkies, Joyfully Reviewed and other sites, as well as publishers, bloggers and fellow authors hold contests.

*Ads in print magazines (RT and Romance Sells come to mind)

*Free stories on your website, to help readers get a taste of your writing.

*Banners (online)

*Pens, bookmarks or other trinket items

*attending conferences (such as RT)

*interviews on other author blogs, romance sites, etc.

*online book tour (get a bunch of author friends together and agree to post when each other has a book releasing. Out of the Blogosphere has a number of NY pubbed authors who do this)

*booksignings

*get creative–you’re an author, isn’t getting creative what authors do? I know, I know, easier said than done.

I know I’ve missed a ton of promo ideas. Anyone want to add any or thoughts on promo?

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This