Monday, February 29, 2016

Promoting with Piggyback Publications by Robert Richter

For many writers the hardest work begins after the book has been written and produced, and that is the marketing. While some authors have the dogged determination of door-to-door salesmen (like some OTP authors at the Tucson Festival of Books last year) in face-to-face contact with the reader, others are not so comfortable and practiced in public sales or giving readings. The social media outlets are also used and managed beautifully by some, especially those with a large social base of “friends” to start; while other authors struggle to attract any attention at all in the storm of book production and promotion on the internet.

I am a naturally reclusive person (think Thoreau here) and find public appearance difficult, although I can put on that mask for a while. I also live in a decidedly “red” and sparsely populated state where my spouse (different name) is a public figure, and I write with a decidedly “blue” point of view on uncomfortable subjects. Not really an ideal setting for regional self-promotion. I do have a social media presence, which is expanding, but started with few contacts and connections, and the load has been time-consuming. What has worked best for me in getting my work in front of more readers has been the use of “piggyback publication,” that is, getting shorter pieces of my writing in anthologies, genre E-magazines, and book promotion sites that feature excerpts and serializations of larger works.

The best example for me has been the inclusion of the first chapter of Something Like a Dream from my Cotton Waters series in an anthology developed, produced, and promoted by The anthology Mexico: Sunlight and Shadows, featured 21 other Mexico Writers, some more and some less established than I, but each with his/her own reader base. Each writer promoted the anthology, and each had his/her work available on 21 new bases of potential readers. The book has been in the “Top 40” of E-books about Mexico since its publication five months ago and prompted a print edition, which produced more readers. OTP was producing a similar project two years ago with a recipe collection related to or coming from mystery writers’ work, I don’t know what happened to it since. The trick to success here is developing the anthology concept in a thematic way that draws new kinds of readers. An intra-house anthology has its own built-in limitations with most in-house authors already taking advantage of one another’s blogs and reader connections.

Another piggybacking example is creating a collection of short stories and getting these stories accepted in E-magazines featuring your genre. Each story accepted is an announcement of the collection’s existence as well as the whole series. A long short story or novella can also be produced as an E-chapbook, which can include synopses and/or excerpts of other books in the series. EgretBooks, a publisher focusing on Mexico, produced a 99-cent E-chapbook of the first story in my newest work in the Cotton Waters series, Something to Die For: The Cotton Waters Stories, and it included excerpts from the previous novels and review quips. I have used it mostly as a promotional freebie on Kindle in conjunction with other promo activities such as having other works of the series featured on book promo sites like Venture Galleries. Offering a free download of the chapbook before Christmas on various Facebook book promotion sites brought more searches and a few sales since. It can also be offered free in conjunction with blog interviews and other social media activity.

With limited skill and comfort levels in public and social media promotion, I’ve had some success with these methods for getting my name and series noticed. The clearest benefit for me has been more name recognition in the professional field of Mexico Writers, more positive reviews about from professionals covering that subject. Hopefully more sales will eventually follow.

          --The author of ten books, including poetry, fiction, and regional history, Robert Richter has a forty-year relationship with Latin America, and that cultural geography inspires his work. In 2000 Richter won the Nebraska Arts Council’s Literary Achievement Award for nonfiction, and in 2007, he was a Fulbright Research Fellow in Buenos Aires. Richter has also been a wheat farmer, substitute teacher, and tour guide in Latin America. Besides the "Something" series, Richter's other books on Mexico include Search for the Camino Real: A History of San Blas and the Road to Get There, and CuauhtĂ©moc Cárdenas and the Roots of Mexico's New Democracy.

Something to Die For: The Cotton Waters Stories is the newest and third in the series published by Oak Tree Press. Cotton Waters is a gringo expatriate in exile on the Mexican west coast, an illegal alien and ex-political activist with old and unresolved legal problems in the U.S. Known to his cantina buddies as "Algo," or Something in Spanish, for years he's scrounged a lazy fishing village lifestyle and a little beer out of the Puerto Vallarta tourist trade as tour guide, cultural consultant, and a private hustler of a Mexican Riviera lost-and-found--helping some people get lost and finding others--if the price is right or the client's cause worth the time and interest.

The causes Something takes on lead him from the glitz and glamour of Puerto Vallarta and the Mexican Riviera to the backwater poverty of coastal fishing villages and jungle living, from the modern urban bustle of Guadalajara to sierra outposts of indigenous clans still living in the pre-colonial past. His clients range from the jet set rich and frivolous to poor villagers and derelict friends still struggling to survive the modern world's hard knocks. The people he encounters come from every stratum of American and Mexican culture and economics living in and roaming northwestern Mexico. The series includes the previously published novels, Something in Vallarta, Something Like a Dream, and Something for Nothing.

Read more about Robert's writing at his website.


Beryl Reichenberg said...

An interesting marketing concept that I never thought of before I saw your blog post. I too am a shy person and I find that I can best promote my children's stories by doing local paper craft classes for kids. Here I feel comfortable teaching a craft and at the same time expanding my brand. I also maintain an email list for my monthly newsletter that promotes my classes and books. But getting my name out to a wider area through social media is more difficult for me. I need to spend more time cultivating this avenue. Beryl

Billie Johnson said...

Excellent and informative post, Robert. Thanks for sharing...