Many people in the public eye believe that there is no such thing as bad publicity. Publicity, positive or negative, promotes a career because it puts that person in the limelight. Of course, writers would like to be recognized for the quality of their work. Bad reviews hurt a writer’s sales and recognition as a serious author. Nevertheless, being ignored by reviewers is not something that authors appreciate either. Readers aren’t going to buy books they’ve never heard of. No reviews? No publicity? No sales.
So how do authors go about reaching readers, building a following among those who buy books? After all, it’s not just the small independent publishers who do little to promote their authors. These days even the major publishers do not put much effort and money into book promotion either. Writers have to think proactive.
How should writers go about reaching and building a readership? I’m going to offer a few suggestions that won’t break your bank account.
l. Use the internet:
a. Create a website. Every professional writer should have one.
b. Do social media networking such as blogging. Create your own blog and also guest blog on other sites. Interview other authors. Offer to do interviews on other sites, not those only for writers. Reach out to a more general, larger audience. Create a presence on such popular internet sites as: Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, Bookbub, Booktown, etc.
d. Join internet writer groups of authors with common interests. Be an active reader and comment often in group and on their blogs. Not everyone can be an “influencer” but it helps to connect.
e. Be willing to read and review the work of other writers.
f. Ask other authors in your genre to read and review your books as well. You want as many reviews as possible on Amazon, B&N, Goodreads, Kobo, etc.
g. Send out advance review copies to internet reviewers who read in your genre. Reviews are important and we can’t always get them from the major review publications.
h. Possibly offer ARCs as giveaways both on your site, other sites. Is giving away free books a good method of increasing overall sales and getting publicity for an author’s brand? It appears to do so for ebooks. Many writers are offering free ebooks on Amazon. Usually this creates awareness of an author who has numerous books to offer. I don’t have the statistics on how well this is working out. If you do, please comment.
2. Bookstore signings and events are great. However, unless you are a famous author, these opportunities have diminished. My advice is to see if there are any independent bookstores locally that you can contact. Be prepared to advertise your “event”/signing on your own.
3. Library Events. Offer to do a program at your local library. You can have a book signing and selling afterward if the library approves.
4. Don’t forget to advertise every program you do. Contact the local newspapers and offer a “news release.”
5. Your college probably has a graduate publication, magazine or newsletter. The publication of your book is certainly a newsworthy item.
6. Consider selling books at various unexpected places. Book fairs sponsored by local libraries are great and so are craft shows, however, you might think of a more creative venue. Try to think outside the box. For example, suppose your novel is about a baker. Is there a local bakery that might display and sell your books on consignment? Is your novel set in a beauty parlor? Would a beauty shop owner allow your books selling space for a cut of the profits?
7. Attending conferences. Many writers swear by them. It’s a great place for networking and connecting. You can meet editors, agents and other authors. At the very least, you can interact and get interesting feedback and share ideas. Since our work is solitary, this is a good way to know you are not alone.
8. Some writers publish their own newsletters which advertise the release of their new books as they come out.
9. You might also keep friends and relatives in the loop through e-mail announcements.
10. Send out announcements to acquisition librarians, especially if your book has had good reviews which you can quote. This can be done inexpensively via e-mail.
11. Podcasts are popular as are Youtube videos. If you have a talent for creating either one, it might benefit sales.
Have I left out anything that I should be mentioning? As a writer, what promotion and or publicity ideas have worked well for you and might work well for other authors?
Readers, what determines the books you select? I would love to share ideas in this forum.