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. Starwriter1@bogus.com 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.