Online Book Promotion Ideas
Be Open to the Opportunities
The original plan was to just show up to the Harlem Book Fair to help staff the National Writers Union (NWU) table and perhaps sell some of my books in the process. However, in my first time experience at this book fair, I experienced so much more. I engaged in the opportunity to meet some incredible people in the book industry and obtained a wealth of information regarding online book promotion that I joyfully share in this article. Enjoy the journey of my day at the fair. It was an unexpected bundle of blessings that I tap into continually and pass onto others.
The Importance of Position
“When the why and what are in place, the how will show up,” stated panelist April Silver during the “Doin’ It: Promoting & Selling Your Book Online” panel discussion presented by African Voices Magazine and the Harlem Book Fair. The book fair and the events preceding and during were the “how” that showed up in answer to my why and what. In journeying through my experience, I invite you to explore and identify your “why and what” or get excited about the “how” that will surely come if you have already done so.
My “Why” is the consistent pure satisfying joy I get from striving to be an intentional blessing to others through my inspirational writing and expressions of love that are an extension and reflection of God and His call on my life. My “What” is the establishment of Inspired 4 U Ministries as an umbrella for my books, articles, and developing ministry activities and projects that will unfold as I continue to work out my own soul salvation and divine purpose. My “How,“ in this instance, showed up in the form of an e-Bulletin from the National Writers Union (NWU) that contained information about the Harlem Book Fair and the Brooklyn Book Fair (September 13, 2009). Members were invited to help staff the table and bring their books to sell. At the time, my NWU membership had lapsed and I was contemplating registering as a vendor during Harlem Week. I decided it was more cost effective to renew my membership with NWU NY Local and take advantage of the support system, two upcoming opportunities for exposure, and the numerous overall benefits.
I arrived at 135th St. and Lenox Ave early and had the opportunity to explore the three block radius of diverse vendors there to sell various products and provide industry information. The atmosphere was charged with anticipation and enthusiasm, and brimming with the possibilities of the day. I met up with Louis Reyes Rivera and Loretta Campbell, The NWU NY Local Steering Committee Chairman and Recording Secretary. We set up our table and got better acquainted as we talked to the curious onlookers, customers, friends, fellow writers, readers, and new contacts passing by. One colleague passed us a flyer for the panel discussion that afternoon, which immediately grabbed my attention and sparked my excitement because I have been actively pursuing information about internet marketing.
The Panel Discussion Recap
The “Doin’ It: Promoting & Selling Your Book Online” panel discussion was one of many events held at the Countee Cullen Library Auditorium (corner of 136th and Malcolm X Blvd.) that Saturday. Moderating the discussion was Maitefa Angaza, managing editor of African Voices Magazine and author of “Kwanzaa: From Holiday to Everyday,” published by Kensington Books.
Lisa C. Moore is the founder and editor of Redbone Press. Lisa started out self publishing and self promoting her work. Armed with the first book, “Does Your Mama Know?” that sported a fabulous book cover, she placed her books in stores and sent her friends to buy copies.
Lisa’s early version of online promotion was visiting chat rooms from her friends’ computers to talk up her own book. Lisa upgraded her process and got a website to promote “Spirited: Affirming the Soul and Black Gay/Lesbian Identity” through listservs* and word of mouth. She currently uses Facebook, continues to use listservs, and additionally pushed books to libraries by emailing PDFs.
*LISTSERVS, also called mailing lists, are a way of communicating via email on various topics of interest by joining a particular email discussion group. LISTSERV is a program whereby emails sent to a mailing list are then forwarded to everyone else on that mailing list.
Jeff Rivera is the author of “Fore My Lady”, founder of www.GumboWriters.com, and regular columnist for Mediabistro’s www.GalleyCat.com. Jeff‘s novel was initially self published (also called independent publishing).
Rejection weary with $200 to his name, Jeff self published and developed a creative online promotion campaign using Myspace.com, message boards and forums, which resulted in building up a large audience, obtaining an agent, and being published by Warner Books. Jeff participated in online communities where everyone with the same interests congregated to discuss a topic. He learned not to push or over promote self, which can turn people off. Instead, Jeff introduced his book and a link to his website only, and then proceeded to disuss other topics posed by the groups. This approach gained the trust of the community, visits to his website and approx 8000 book sales, which piqued the interest of an agent and Warner Books.
April Silver - writer, editor, head of AKILA WORKSONGS (AW - WWW.AKILAWORKSONGS.COM) - a communications agency that includes an email marketing service (Put On Blast!), established www.Aprilisms.com, and serves as a weekly media panelist for WBAI Radio (NY). (WWW.APRILSILVER.COM).
April emphasized the importance of examining the why and what of your actions to attract the how, and ensure career longevity. She illustrated her point with a personal testimony of being a Gemini and natural communicator, driven to promote unknown voices and creative people with a vision. Her "how" showed up when she was contacted by a company for her promotion services while she wasn’t even aware that people got paid for what she loved to do naturally. She quickly made up a price and went on to build a business. She utilizes e- announcements and is now very clear about getting paid for her natural abilities and effective communicating skills. April stated that people who engage in social media networking as a hobby or because it’s the latest trend will burn out and experience a missed opportunity and platform to promote ideas if they set up and don’t return to follow through or respond to the traffic. April suggests joining email lists to push desired content and to invest in a high tech phone like a blackberry or I-phone for business productivity.
Marcia Pendleton is founder and president of Walk Tall Girl Productions (www.Walktallgirlproductions.com), a New York based marketing and group sales company that makes the performing arts accessible to racially and culturally diverse audiences. Marcia sees a correlation between people who read and people who go to the theatre. She seeks opportunities for cross-promotion to connect the work of authors to the work going on in the theatre, allowing for post production discussions with cast and book signings. Authors are afforded the opportunity to promote and introduce their books to another audience.
Lack of money caused Marcia to look for online marketing opportunities as she pondered how to make the journey from page to stage and sought to find ways of getting the word out. With the collaboration of several theatre companies, Marcia created a jpeg file that contained all the information and sent the info to the email lists of each theatre company. The results were a standing room only event and attendees being introduced to additional productions. Marcia suggests capturing names wherever you go and to ask permission to send your information. Connect with the contacts quickly, reminding them of where you met, update them on your event/activity, and thank them for their support. Communicating online is a quick and cost effective way to express appreciation to supportive contacts.
The Q & A
During the questions and answers (Q & A), the panelists shared the following information:
Jeff Rivera: Give Aways – eBooks/audio books are good items to give away free; Read “Free: The Future of Radical Price” by Chris Anderson, a book that will help determine what and how much to give away and how to turn free into cash. Creating An Audio Book – purchase a Radio Shack headset; go to www.Audacity.sourceforge.net and download the audacity software to record and edit sound; go to www.Lame.com and download the MP3 software. Great Resource Sites – www.Bookmarketing.com; www.Bookmarket.com; www.Writersreaders.com; www.Poynter.com (Dan Poynter). Social Media Networks – Only focus on 1 or 2 or go to www.Ping.fm, where you can update on one network that will send the post to multiple networks simultaneously.
April Silver: Protecting Content – don’t be concerned about people stealing your content, be concerned about getting the message out. April quotes Kevin Powell as saying, “just put it out there”. In addition to social media networks like Twitter and Facebook, April says to invest in your own website just in case the corporate media giants ever decide to wipe out your contents and contacts, and the content on your own website is more controllable. (Jeff Rivera added, “Don’t worry about your content being repurposed”). Selling Books – April also stated that there is not much money to be made independently going into bookstores. However, money can be made creating a platform for yourself through lecturing and selling books at every turn (and sometimes giving them away) . She recommends the book, “The Artist’s Way”, by Julia Cameron.
An Awesome HOW Day!
After the panel discussion, I arrived back at the NWU table just before representatives from the Fade to Black TV program produced by Phillip Howell stopped by and asked if anyone wanted to be interviewed. Prodded by Loretta, I slowly stepped up, was introduced and handed the microphone. I was told the show is supposed to air on channel 36, Friday, July 24, 2009 at 7:30 pm and re-air on Sunday at 1:30 pm. Soon after the interview, thanks to Louis, we were blessed to move our table out of the glaring sun to share the canopy shaded vendor space occupied by African Voices and Single Action Productions. The final strawberry topping to my day at the fair was in a pleasant reconnection with an extraordinary poet whose presence and creativity exuded an aura that caressed my mind and embraced my soul. Namaste Layding Lumumba Kaliba, author and publisher of Single Action Productions; and Executive Publisher/Poetry Editor of African Voices Magazine. Thank you for consenting to the book (Spirit Anthems and Ancient Magic) exchange; through your insightful urban life depictions of our people in America, I have embarked on a journey that I am compelled to extend each time I drawer close to the end. I look forward to reading more of your work.
What an amazing day! Participating in the Harlem Book Fair for the first time, working with the National Writers Union, meeting publishers, other writers, a library materials management selector, attending an informative panel discussion, and getting interviewed for a TV program was an awesome experience. Did I sell any books? No, nor did I make much effort to do so. Instead, having sensed early on that I was there for something more, I had a most memorable priceless experience that strengthened my faith in this process. When you know the why and what, the how will show up!