Beyond The Book: How To Promote Your Book After It Is Finished
The Writing Is Done. Now What?
Congratulations! You have written a book. Six months of your life went into those 100,000 words and you are now an author. It is a huge accomplishment for any writer and one to be proud of.
Now what do you do?
We are going to start with the assumption that you wrote the book with the purpose of selling it. If you are a writer who has simply written a book for personal satisfaction then read no further. If, however, you have visions of someone actually reading that book and paying money to do so, then your work has just begun.
Even if you are lucky enough to have an agent or a publisher, you will still need to move beyond the writing and actually promote the book. Few writers enjoy this but it is necessary. For those who do not have an agent or publisher, who have written an ebook or have self-published in hardback, you are on your own. You are your agent; you are your publisher; and you are your marketing director. The sooner you grasp that concept the better, and the more determined you are to be a successful marketing director the better your book will sell.
What follows are some suggestions on how to promote your book that will cost you absolutely nothing. In other words, what follows are suggestions for free advertising, and who among you would pass up free advertising?
Be aware of a very important fact: bookstores and libraries love to have local authors appear for readings and book signings. Why wouldn’t they? It costs them nothing and it brings in customers. They are in a no-lose situation and so are you, the writer.
Despite the ever-increasing online market, the bookstore venue is still your best bet as an indie writer. Hop in your car and make the rounds of bookstores in your area and schedule readings and signings. To insure that your appearance will be successful, follow these suggestions:
- Your physical appearance matters. Dress sharp, look sharp, and act like the professional that you are.
- Arrive early before your scheduled reading/signing. Make sure that your books are stocked. Talk with the staff. Check out the area where you will be sitting and have a sign-in sheet available as well as an email list, bottle of water and any free giveaways you might have.
- Be on your best behavior. Remember that you are your product, as much so as your book. Look everyone in the eye, shake hands, be pleasant, and smile often.
- Use the clock wisely. Usually you will have an hour for your appearance. Break that hour into segments: introduction, reading, discussion about reading, question and answers period, and signing period.
- Read a lively passage to keep your audience entertained, interested, and on the verge of buying your book.
- Adapt to your audience. If only four people show up then circle the chairs and make the event more personable. If nobody shows up, and that is a possibility, then chat with the staff and network.
I know….you are a writer and you hate networking. What is it about writers that they can’t stand promoting themselves? Why would a writer much prefer to sit in their studio writing to actually talking to other writers in person?
Well, if you are going to be successful then you need to get over that shyness and get out there among your peers. Attend workshops and meet people. Who knows when that next contact will be the one that propels you to infinity and beyond? You will never know unless you take that first step.
There are writer’s conferences and workshops in every state in this nation; simply go online and find one that works for you. Once you have finally committed and you actually go to one, be yourself and be friendly. Introduce yourself to people. Do not say “Hi, my name is Jane and I just wrote a book.” Nobody likes glaring commercialism. Simply introduce yourself as a writer and make conversation. “What are you working on” is a good ice-breaker. One truth that will never go out of style is this: people like to be liked. People like to think that they matter. If you genuinely reach out to another writer and show interest in their work, your efforts will be reciprocated.
To School You Go
I was a teacher for eighteen years so trust me on this next suggestion: teachers will be thrilled if you offer to speak to their class about the life of a writer. Go find the writing instructor at your local high school and arrange for a time when you can schmooze with their class. Same with middle school Language classes.
Will you sell any books by doing school readings? Probably not, but you will be discussed over dinner by those students and their parents, and who knows if your talk might inspire a student to actually become a writer? How cool would that be?
Turn to the Media
“But I could never go on the radio or public television and speak about my book!” Well why not? If you aren’t willing to do so then who do you think will?
Listen, this is up to you as an indie writer, so get over whatever hang-ups you have and get out there. Radio stations will interview you if you approach them. Newspapers and local magazines will interview you if you approach them. Local public television will give you airtime if you approach them. Please notice that the last three sentences had something in common….”if you approach them.”
When you are being interviewed, remember this important point: the interviewer most likely knows nothing about your book; they will be quite happy if you field their question and then run free with it, leaving them to simply listen to your answers. Tell your audience about your book in an excited and yet professional manner. One thing my father taught me that I have never forgotten: fake it until you make it.
Use Your Book As a Springboard for Other Stories
Write short stories using the characters from your novel, then publish your stories online with references to your book. I have known authors who bombed on their novels as ebooks, but then followed up with a short story and suddenly their ebook sales increased.
On a personal note, I am currently doing this for a novel that is not completed yet. I have written several articles where I have quoted the lead character in my upcoming novel. In other words, I am laying the seeds for crops that will come later.
Bookstore readings…library readings…classrooms….workshops….other contacts….once you have made connections then follow up on them. Send thank you notes to everyone you meet at a bookstore or library reading. Send thank you notes to the bookstore owners and send follow-up notes to authors you meet at workshops. Why would you do this? Well, it is the nice thing to do for one, and for another it just might earn you a repeat appearance at a later date.
This is all part of building your platform, and a writer must keep their eye on the bigger picture. Maybe you won’t sell a book at a book signing, but you will have made valuable contacts that will pay dividends in a few months.
Please note that I intentionally left out promoting your book on Facebook and other online sites. Feel free to do so. From my viewpoint, Facebook is flooded with writers and musicians hawking their work, so I question the return that is gained from such efforts. Still, what do you really have to lose by doing so in a reserved manner?
You have done the hard work by writing that book. Now give yourself a chance at being successful by taking it to the next level.
2014 William D. Holland (aka billybuc)
“Helping writers to spread their wings and fly.”