Friday, January 16, 2009

Thinking About Promotion

As a writer, I've tried to dedicate a lot of time to honing my craft, but soon I will be a published writer, and I will have to think about promoting my work as well. To be honest, it's a bit daunting. I know that the publisher has a marketing department that may or may not do a lot to promote your book, but every author I've talked to has emphasized how much the writer needs to contribute to promotion as well. Afterall, this is your brain child.  Your baby.  So I've scoured the net looking for advice and interesting ideas. One of the first hits on the ol' Google bar came up with a Wordpress index of blogs on the subject. Lots of personal accounts of what worked for people, either self-published or otherwise. Looking through post titles, I saw some patterns developing, so here's a brief checkist:

  • Book Trailers:  Caroline Rance asks the question Do I need a book trailer? on her blog, and it brought a variety of responses.  Karen Harrington discussed the advantages of a book trailer to communicate some things that just can't happen on the jacket flap.  But Bella Stander asks the questions that concern me most—where are these book trailers going to be shown besides online?  And is that enough to have any impact on book sales?  Sure, occasionally you see book trailers for Robert Parker's latest or maybe Nora Robb's on television, but most of us won't have that kind of budget.   

  • Book Signings:  This one is pretty much a no-brainer.  I mean haven't we all daydreamed about that awesome book signing where hundreds of people are willing to stand in line to have you sign their copy?  Ah...yes.

  • Virtual Book Tours:  I go straight to the virtual tour, once again, because most of us are not as likely to get the Carrie Bradshaw treatment our first time out.  I've had several writer friends post things on their FaceBook or MySpace pages and circulate it widely.  Okay...I can do that.  What else can you do?  This site is pretty cool.  You get yourself listed as a writer in the area where you live, but also you can advertise your real-time schedule of signings and events.  But what exactly happens in a virtual book tour?  From what I can gather, online chats at various websites, guest blogs, and blog interviews can get you moving around the web quite nicely.  Okay...I'll put it out there now...I'm available!

  • Join Forces with Other Writers:  Most of you may already be familiar with the class of 2k7,  class of 2k8 and class of 2k9 writers who work collaboratively to promote their books online, at conferences, and at book festivals.  What an awesome idea!  They support each other through their blogs and group presentations, author panels, group advertising.  Brilliant!  And that's another thing I love about the kidlit world.  Writers genuinely celebrate the craft and the people who make it.   It's a community.

  • School Visits:  I'm still working out how to conduct a school visit, but I have some ideas.  I'm a teacher, so I can handle that...right?  Right!  The thing I love about school visits is that they put you right there with your audience.  Face to face with the people you are writing for.  And they generate a little revenue as as well as attention for your book.  But I have to say, I LOVE the class of 2k9's Author's To Go idea.  There are many schools that simply cannot afford to pay an author for a visit, and while many of us probably would do it for free, it's a dangerous precedent to set when you want to make a living.  So the 2k9 group has set up a sort of virtual school visit opportunity.  I LOVE this idea.  Way to go, writers!

  • Websites:  This is the big one.  I'm definitely going to build a website, but I have yet to work out all the logistics.  What should you have on your website and what overall look is appropriate?  My friends at Author2Author have been thinking about this as well.  What does make a good author website?  I'll be working on this question...hard.  I know that once your name starts working its way out there, you will get googled and certain expectations must be met.  How interactive should your site be?  What is the personality of your site?  Should you tie it specifically to that first book or try to portray yourself as an author in general?  I can tell you this...mine has got to have atmosphere.  Spooky atmosphere.  

Now there are all kinds of interesting things you can try to promote your book, including postcards, giveaways, bookmarks, temporary tattoos...  But I think one of the coolest media tricks I've come across is Scholastic's multi-media plan for Patrick Carmen's SKELETON CREEK.  Now that's some website action!

For the introverted authors looking for promotion ideas, check out the Shrinking Violet Promotions blog.  And I can't wait for Stephanie Ruble's guest blogger Sara Dobie (from Sylvan Dell) to share her insights on book promotion.  Head on over and post your question now.   The interview will be posted in a few weeks.

Well, that's a lot to think about...and I don't even have the book deal yet!  But promotion is part of being a writer, at least if you are planning on being a published writer.  And I definitely plan on that.  Yes, the marketing department will have a strategy (with any luck, a great strategy) for your book.  But this is your baby.  No matter how many friends she has, she's still going to have those lonely days when she's not getting enough attention.  And who is she going to call?  You. 


  1. You might want to check out Bubble Stampede -- a blog created by Laura Salas and Fiona Bayrock to discuss book promotion.

  2. I worked in marketing and PR for a decade and I've been thinking a lot about this very subject. I have seen a lot of author websites that contain writing tips for other authors and author bios, but not enough that focus on the kids. An interesting use of Twitter might be an account that's "owned" by one of your fictional characters. MG and YA are early adopters of technologies, and how cool would it be to follow one of your favorite characters outside the confines of the book? Cell phone novels are a phenom in Japan and I expect something similar to sprout up among this generation of American kids. Feedback from kids is also important--and that's how these cell phone novels have become huge successes. People have bought the paper copies because they gave feedback about the direction of the tale and felt like they had a hand in creating the story. I think the interaction between readers and authors is going to change the industry.

  3. Thanks, Vijaya! I'll check it out!

    And wow, Tara—that a great idea! I could link to the twitter accounts on my web site as well. That is totally awesome!

  4. Lots of great ideas here. I hope someday I'll be able to use them! Thanks for sharing.

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  6. As usual, you share such great stuff. Oh, and by the way... you've been nominated by me for an award! Love ya, sweet friend! XOXO

  7. Wow! *blush* Thanks, CJ! XOXO

    I'm just sharing my journey :)


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