Blogger: Kathleen Y’Barbo
Location: The Woodlands, Texas Publicity Office
Weather: Rainy and 65 degrees
Welcome to your weekly publicity blog post!
With money tight and book launches often done on ever-shrinking budgets, I’m often asked what authors should be doing to market their books. The choices for letting readers know about a book are unlimited, and the costs vary greatly. I submit that, for the money, nothing beats a great website, an informative e-newsletter, and an ever-growing database to reach readers. Thus, I present Book Marketing 1-2-3, also known as the Trifecta of Marketing 101:
1. First and foremost, an author needs a fabulous website. In today’s connected world, a writer must have a web presence. If the website has a blog, even better. How do you express your personality and reach readers? Spend some time jumping from site to site and take note of the ones you like. While an adequate site is better than no site, a superior site with just the right combination of timely information, ease of use, and professionalism will put you ahead of many others out there. It may be pricey to hire a professional web designer, but the money will be well spent. Ask around. Check to see who is doing the sites you like best. In no time, you’ll have a list of names. Take note of things you like and things you don’t. Be creative. Offer interesting and ever-changing material on your site. An easy way to do this is to add a Twitter feed or blog page to your site then update these items REGULARLY. (Twitter once a day, a new blog entry at least once a week.)
2. When your website is in place, building a strong database should be your next priority. Whether you do postcards, review copies, or just e-blast with notices of signings and new releases, a database is essential. Start with friends and family, then branch out from there by collecting names at events and through your website. Have a sign-up sheet for your e-newsletter at events, or do a drawing for a book that requires participants to give their contact information. A note of warning: It’s best to let people know you’re collecting addresses for your e-newsletter rather than trying to be sneaky about it. Take note of addresses and email addresses when you get fan mail. If they contact you, they’re fair game to be added to your list. Be diligent and consistent, and you’ll be surprised at how quickly your list will grow.
3. Now that you have a database, what do you do with it? Bookstore personnel will tell you that hand-selling is a big part of what they do, so don’t forget to collect the names of these folks (with permission!), especially those who run independent bookstores. E-newsletters are great because they are free and can be sent via e-blast to an almost unlimited number of recipients. The topic of creating effective newsletters is one for another day, as there are far too many factors to cover here. However, I will say keep the newsletter simple yet informative. Try to match your e-newsletter to your personality and be sure to offer something of value, whether it is an insight into the writing process or some sort of contest or promotion. You’ll find that readers will love connecting with you. In addition, send out the occasional notice to readers announcing events, new releases, contests, and anything else that might be important to your writing world. Don’t fill your readers’ in-boxes with constant prattle, but do plan a well-timed hello at important times. This increases the personal connection and will, hopefully, send your readers to the stores in search of your next book.
So, to recap: the essentials of book marketing are an online web presence, an ever-growing database, and well-planned communications through e-newsletters and the occasional announcement.
Now I’d like to hear from you. What do you consider the top 3 essentials for telling the world about your books?