Today we are again delving into the now-deep archives of the So You Want To Be A Writer podcast for some gems of wisdom on book promotion. I think there are three key things to remember about how to promote a book, whether it be fiction or non-fiction:
1. Start early
2. Be clear
3. Talk to people, not at them.
But one of the joys of creating our weekly podcast is the opportunity to speak to leading publishing figures – authors, publishers, booksellers and other industry specialists – about what they do best. So I am able to bring you these five tips, from the archives, on steps you can take to promote your book.
Recognise your key moment of power
“That exciting moment when [you’re] signing a contract for a book to be published … that moment is really your one chance. Even though you feel like you have absolutely no power in that moment and you’re just so glad you’re getting it published … that moment is vital. [The publisher has] said they’re interested in your book, they think they have some value in the book and they want to publish this book. [Now is the time] to ask them questions about where they think it fits in the market, because on the selling sheets that [publishing sales reps bring to me] I will have super-lead titles, lead titles, and sort of middle of the range titles, and then ‘things that we agreed to publish and no one can understand why we did’ lists.
“[Find out early which list your book will be on] … if you feel like you have a product that has a market … that there’s a great opportunity and great potential in your work, then I would ask the question: just what sort of marketing dollar will [the publisher] put behind it?” John Purcell, chief book buyer and head of marketing at Booktopia [episode 5]
Start building your author platform today
“Here’s the thing, even if you’re traditionally published publishers these days are looking to see if you have a big social platform. So, it can affect your book deal. It can affect how much your book deal is, you can make more money if you have a social profile, because they’re looking at that … traditional publishers are looking to see if you have a social media platform to share your book with. If you’re going to self-publish they only thing you have is your social media platform. Either way you really need to build it.
“It’s not like you’re going to see books on the shelf and the books coming off the shelf when you’re tweeting, it doesn’t happen that way, but people can see your tweets, they could decide later to buy your book, they could go to your website, they could share a blog post that you wrote, and that blog post could have an ad in the sidebar for your book and somebody that they tweeted to could click on the link and buy it.
“They’re not always direct sales, but social media is the only way you can get your name out there as a self-publishing author, unless you were paying really big bucks for some kind of advertising. In today’s world people really want to connect with people. If you’re not on Twitter or Facebook or somewhere I think people are confused by it at this point, you know? Like, why can’t they connect with you?” Peg Fitzpatrick, social media strategist and author of The Art Of Social Media [episode 50]
Create a home base
“I can’t imagine doing well without the blog. I feel like people are not just buying the book, they’re buying the story behind the book, which doesn’t mean that they’re buying me, but they’re buying all of the things that I like that they like too.
“I think it’s such a good way to sort of expand your story. I guess the book is a bonus. People can come to my blog and they can get free content and read all kinds of good stuff, they don’t have to fork out that money if they don’t want to. But, you know, if they do want to support me and they are interested in the things that am I, then they often will decide to buy the book as well.” Pip Lincolne, author of Craft For The Soul [episode 61]
Understand what your book is about
“[One of the biggest mistakes authors make with publicity is that] they actually can’t describe what their book is about. There’s a thing in business called the elevator pitch, that I’m sure you’ve heard of, which is you’ve got a business idea and your perfect ideal investor walks into your lift and you’ve got the two or three… however long it takes you travel the two or three floors until they get out of the lift or you do, to describe your business and ask them to invest in it. That applies equally to books, you really need to be able to get your point across really quickly and really succinctly.” Emma Noble, specialist book publicist [episode 83]
Take your stories to your audience
“School visits are a good way to reach [my] readers and I think it has a really great effect in terms of inspiring kids to read and to write their own stories. But, I sort of really like that aspect of it that you are forced to think about your stories in different ways.
“I think the way to not be nervous about it is just to tell your stories, tell the stuff that you’re genuinely enthusiastic about, as opposed to thinking too much about, “What will I say that they will like?” So, I think if you… if you love the stories that you’re working on and if they started out in some interesting way, or you gathered together interesting images while you were working on it, or there was some particular, you know, two minute news story that you saw on YouTube while you were researching or there was music you listened to while you were writing that had some impact on the story, you know, pulling all of that stuff together, the thing that inspired you and then sharing that with other people, whether they be kids or adults, because I find if you find something good it works on either audience.
“Just share your genuine excitement about a particular story and people will respond to that.” Tristan Bancks, children’s author [episode 84]
For more great tips and advice, check out Build Your Author Platform, my on-demand online course for the Australian Writers’ Centre.