Monday, November 3, 2008

Promotion the Right Way

Sunny here.
I've been volunteering my time and expertise to set up the local authors program for the Kings County Library, CA. Some of the roadblocks I've run into amaze me. Authors in my area seem to be doing their best to hide the fact that they have books to sell. I finally realized that many writers don't have a clue as to how to promote.

The first thing I do when I hear about an author is to Google the name. What? No website? Why do you make me scour the Internet to find vague mentions of you? I want to know if you are local to my area so I can book you as a speaker. Why are you reluctant to tell me where you're from? Are you in the witness protection program? Are you afraid of hoards of fans converging on your home, demanding signed copies of your book? If I can't find the information quickly, I will move on to other authors.

Yesterday, I saw a mention of an author speaking at a bookstore in a nearby town. No website listed. I contacted the store owners, who passed my info to the author. The email addy had some weird, possibly cute, AKA in lieu of the author's real name. does not make me feel like I'm dealing with a professional.

Today I'm writing Community News announcements for the next speaker. He had sent me the publicity plan as set out by his publisher. None of his media contacts match mine. He apparently looked up names from the staff box to find the most important person on the newspaper to send promotional material. That's the quickest way to have info tossed in the trash. I call every newspaper, TV station and radio station. I chat up the receptionist, find out who handles community news and feature articles. I find out if they prefer email or FAXes. What is the time frame--3 weeks prior notice, two weeks? I thank them when they run the article or make announcement. I check in regularly to make sure my contacts are still good. The news media has high turnover.

My small local paper created an entertainment section just for my monthly column on writing. I also send them full-length articles, with photos, on the speakers I'm bringing in to the area. No, I don't get paid. Having worked as a journalist, I know reporters scramble to find articles to fill the newspaper. If you hand them a complete and well-written article instead of just a bio or press packet, you'll get the publicity. When I hear authors complain that the media ignores them, I want to shake some sense into their heads.

Finally, every author who wants an audience should get on Book Tour. List your speaking venues and this Internet group will notify other Book Tour subscribers in the area. They also have a section listing speakers in the area for people like me who are constantly looking to sign up authors. Use it to contact organizations with author programs. It cost nothing, yet this cyber source is ignored.

What do I get for all of my efforts? Name recognition. Bylines. I get paid to lecture on promotion. Best of all, my library is giving me a book launch when "Where Angels Fear" comes out from Oak Tree Press.


Marilyn said...

Right on, Sunny. I've never understood what makes some authors think they're going to be a target of someone or something if they let people know where they live or how to get in touch with them.

The only ones who might want to be a bit cagey about where they can be found are those who are writing erotic romances. But even then, they should have an email address that will reach them.

No website? Unthinkable. I've had a website for year, even sell books right from my website using PayPal.

There are so many free blog places now (like this one), you can use one of them for a website if you want.

Sunny and I will be presenting together at the Erle Stanley Gardner Mystery Festival this coming Saturday, from 10 - 4, in the Sr. Center of Old Town Temecula. Guess what we're talking about? Ways of Getting Published today and PROMOTION!


BillieJohn said...

The Dynamic Duo! Thanks for the great posts.

Just a couple of bits to add...OTP authors have the option of creating a webpage on the OTP site For a number of authors, I have domained their name or book title or both and "forwarded" them into the company site, FREE. Also, I have everyone listed on BookTours. I will do the updates, or give a passcode so the author can do his own. FREE

There's a lot that can be done for little or NO money.

Deb Baker said...

Great post, Sunny, and right on. LOL at the witness protection program. But then realized I don't have my location on my site. Gotta go.

Maryann Miller said...

Great info, Sunny. Thanks for taking the time to share it all with us.

Michelle Gagnon said...

I couldn't agree more, Sunny, there's no reason for an author not to have a website these days, and an email address through the same site. Both can be set up cheaply or for free, and they represent the absolute minimum a person can do for their marketing campaign.
Interesting about the newspapers, too...

Dal said...

One thing to remember, though - a lot of people will be clicking in to your website and not have a clue where you are.

I googled the library - Kettleman City sounded familiar, but none of the other towns - and eventually determined that you're out in the San Joaquin Valley. I'll keep that in mind for a drive through next year when my first novel comes out.

Perhaps strategic alliances with other small presses might help in promotion? If five companies each trade a few copies of four titles, your table now has a lot more to sell at that book fair. With small presses, you can probably get them all signed as well.

Holli said...

I have 2 reasons I have not previously included specific location info, a proper sounding e-mail, other identifying info, etc.. First, a newbie such as myself wouldn't even think about doing that if someone wasn't writing about it here and guiding me, so this was extremely helpful to me at this point. My main email is a "cutsie" one and not my name, but I am seeing now that for professional contact purposes I should probably change that. Ignorance aside, I represent convicted felons on appeal with the state of Louisiana; I had to think long and hard about how much personal information I want to reveal. I occasionally win my cases, and do not want my clients showing up on my door step to thank me. Believe it or not, some prisoners spend a lot of time doing nothing but googling names on the internet. I finally decided on a basic level of information I will reveal, although my basic location in the metro New Orleans area is already known to my clients through my contact info with them, which is a P. O. Box. Thanks for the advice, as this is something I have been struggling with.