Tuesday, March 06, 2012


With the decline in "real" bookstores, book inventories, publishing lists, royalties, and media coverage for new books, it is even more vital for writers to get a firm hand on their promotional efforts. If necessary, it may mean learning new skills, thinking up fresh and compelling ideas, or simply doing more of what works. It also means making a campaign plan and a long commitment.

Writers often express discomfort and anxiety about undertaking self-promotion - "I'm a writer, not a salesperson!" But last week The Writers' Union of Canada (TWUC) came right back with "Get over it!" and delivered myriad ways to do so. The challenge for writers is to keep up with the changing publishing climate and stay current regarding online promotion and the trends in social media.

This post focuses on "in person" promotion ideas. However, first you must figure out your brand as a writer/author. (Details - http://beaconlit.blogspot.com/2010/03/branding-for-authors-and-freelancers.html.)

Toastmasters International
Image via Wikipedia
Once you've done that, TWUC suggests these in-person ways to "get out there" and promote yourself and your book:
  • Learn to talk about your work. Start by focusing on one WIP or book and write out a script for one para and one zinger sentence. Practise them out loud. Record your efforts and work on improving your delivery.
  • Join Toastmasters for great assistance if speaking publicly scares you witless.
  • Volunteer to speak everywhere you can think of - schools, libraries, associations, book clubs, etc. Never say no to a gig - each gig creates new pathways and connections to more gigs.
  • Start writing book reviews.
  • Build relationships in person with bookstore owners/managers and book buyers. Give them a flyer before publication.
  • Get to know your book's sales rep, if your book is about to be published. Give them flyers that have a synopsis, an outline of your book's unique features, and a short bio.
  • Meet librarians wherever you go and leave a flyer for them too. Offer to give readings, a talk, and signings.
  • Turn your books face-out in book stores; offer to sign the stock.
  • Set up your own local book tour using bookstores, libraries, and associations. Do the same when you visit places on vacation or business trips.
  • That Bookstore in Blytheville is reputedly one...
    Image via Wikipedia
  • Coordinate your launch party with one of the booksellers you have cultivated. Dream up a theme that's fun. Read for only 10-15 minutes and then talk about your writing life and what motivated you to write the book. Have interaction with Q&As and discussions. Perhaps get a local journalist to interview you in front of the attendees. The store will be happy to sell copies and reap the profit while you sign them.
  • Turn yourself into an expert - a "go to" person. Write and publish articles pre-pub. Novelists can write short stories from the out-takes or articles based on the research you've done.
  • Become a Writer in Residence or a mentor.
  • Get involved with book clubs big time. Prepare a simple brochure with a synopsis and a list of questions for members to ponder while reading your book. Offer to attend the club and ask the members to buy your book(s).
  • Pitch yourself to readers' and writers' festivals.
  • Don't forget to pitch your book to public, school, and other libraries. This is a big market, often overlooked.
  • Enter your book in every contest you can find.
  • Offer to donate a percentage of your book to an appropriate charity.
  • Offer to be interviewed on local and national radio and TV.
Yes, you'll be busy. Promotion feels like a full-time job but it's worth it - especially when your second book is published.

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