Blogger: Kathleen Y’Barbo, Publicist
Location: The Woodlands, Texas PR Office
Weather: Rainy and warm–fall’s coming!
Congratulations! You’re published! Likely your publishing house began planning for publicity and marketing months–or even a year–before the book’s release. At Books & Such, we generally consider an author’s promotional plan as part of the proposal package. Thus, you probably have studied up on how to generate attention for your novel well before the book was even sold.
In most cases, the publisher puts together a marketing plan to make readers aware of the book before it arrives on bookstore shelves. Work generally begins on promotion four to six months prior to the date the book releases, with review copies going out to endorsers and key media representatives. Ads and article placements are also undertaken during this time. Within one month of release, an all-out push for any and all media is underway. This generally lasts four to six weeks after the release date, though blog tours and other seasonal promotions are sometimes included in the plans.
All of this adds up to a whirlwind of activity that eventually ceases altogether. Conventional wisdom says once a book has been out for six months or so, there is no need to do any further promotion. The book has, sadly, been declared at the end of its shelf life. But what of those books that seem to defy the odds and stay on the shelves far longer than that? What can you as the author do to increase the odds that your book will remain at the publisher’s forefront while others are transitioned to ignored back list? Here are a few ideas:
1. Become an expert in the topics covered by your book. For nonfiction authors, this seems obvious, but novelists can do this as well. Several years ago Janice Thompson, an author-friend of mine, wrote a book called Hurricane. The novel was based on the events of September 1900 when a hurricane decimated Galveston, Texas. Janice took the research done for the novel and turned it into several speaking topics, which she presented to historical societies, women’s groups, schools, and a whole host of other venues where a novelist might not normally be invited.
2. Write a sequel–or two. Sometimes it takes a book or two in a series to get buzz going. If your publisher is amenable to this plan, write strategically and plan for at least three books that either address a complimentary topic (nonfiction) or are related by location, characters, or theme (fiction). While the first book might not make a huge splash in the market, readers will warm to your topic or hear good things about your stories and, by default, want not just the current release but any previous related books. Statistics show that, for fiction, sales often build for books up to the third release in a series; so a publisher might commit to three upfront.
3. Watch for trending topics that relate to your book. Be aware of what’s going on in the world and use current news as a jumping off point for renewed interest in your book. Follow news online, both in Christian media and on the major news sites. For the Christian perspective, I subscribe to Christian Newswire and use it both to keep up on topics as well as to send out press releases.
These are just a few of the many ways to breathe new life into an aging book. I’m anxious to hear what has worked for you.
This isn’t exactly an answer to your question, but after your comment about how a series can lengthen shelf-life I’m wondering…
If you had the choice of debuting with a series or a stand-alone title, which would you choose?
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