Book promotion prospects for self-published books, too

You’ve tried — for months, or for years — to convince a literary agent to persuade a traditional publisher to lend its imprint, and its credibility, to your book because you’re under the impression that book promotion opportunities exist for traditionally published books that aren’t available for self-published titles.

Wrong.

Here’s the good news. For the most part, the stigma that used to be associated with self-published books is gone. While traditionally published books have lost none of their cache, even with all of the changes in the published world, new opportunities have arisen for those whose books haven’t been picked up by traditional publishers. While the traditional publishing world was doing its thing (the same old, same old thing, for the most part), self-published books (and that includes self-published ebooks, by the way) have established their own strong track records and earned their own top-notch book promotion opportunities.

To reinforce my point, here’s an interesting link from — ironically enough — a venue that’s all about traditional publishing (but that, in recent years, has begun to take self-published authors seriously, too).

This Publishers Weekly article shares the results of a recent Writer’s Digest survey that compares writers’ (those who have worked with traditional publishers to publish books and have also self-published their own books) satisfaction with traditional traditional publishing compared to self-publishing. Self-publishing came out ahead, and I believe it’s because self-published authors gain so much (specifically, monetary rewards and control over every aspect of their work) and sacrifice so little by way of media recognition, credibility, and distribution/sales potential.

In short, it’s as easy to find book promotion opportunities for self-published books as it is to find book promotion opportunities for traditionally published books once you look beyond book reviews (some of which are still unavailable for self-published authors since some traditional book review outlets are still holding onto the last vestiges of discrimination against self-published books).The book promotion opportunities for all books, and ebooks, have grown in number over the years as new venues have emerged. All books, and ebooks, regardless of the way they are published, have access to these book promotion opportunities.

Now it’s just up to you, the author, to find those book promotion opportunities, and to see how your book can take advantage of them.

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Book Promotion for Poetry by Author Carol Grever

Thanks to our special guest blogger, Carol Grever, for her tried-and-true advice for poets. Here’s what Carol Grever, author of Glimpses: A Memoir in Poetry, has to say about promotion for books of poetry (and promotion for poets themselves):

A Primer on Publicizing Poetry
by
Carol Grever

Congratulations on publishing your poetry collection! Time to relax and bask in the praise of an eager public. But not so fast! Whether your book carries the brand of a major New York publisher or is self-published, your work as a poet has barely begun. Writing your opus was the simple part. Publicizing it is the looming reality. Changes in the industry place the responsibility to market any new book—fiction, nonfiction, or poetry—squarely on the author.

When I completed Glimpses: A Memoir in Poetry, I knew that marketing it would be challenging. After all, I was known as a nonfiction author, not a poet. How could I get my book before the right audience—-those who read, love, and buy poetry? While my book was in the production stage, I made a step-by-step plan with three distinct phases to unfold over an entire year. Though the object of this plan was a poetry collection, it can apply to other genres as well. Perhaps my roadmap will be useful to others.

Before Publication, Get Ready

1. Update your Web presence. Refurbish or create a personal Web site to feature your written work. This is a base for other avenues on the Web that are suited to the type of writing you do, e.g. Linked-In, Facebook, and professional writers’ sites. Choose only your best possibilities, create a presence, and work those sites fully. It does little good to open a Web account and then forget about it!

2. Have new, professional photos taken for publicity needs, including prints and .jpg format. Be ready with a high resolution .jpg of your book cover as well.

3. Start a blog or create buzz on your existing one to develop anticipation about your book prior to publication.

4. Develop an email contact list for publicity purposes before and after publication. Use the list to stay in touch with readers and supporters and to notify them of upcoming book-related events.

5. Order any promotional materials you plan to use. Begin with bookmarks bearing the cover image with ordering information.

Immediately After Publication

1. Develop a one-sheet publicity piece, including your high-resolution photo and the cover image, a compelling short description of the book, and a short bio, plus vital information about the book itself: ISBN, price, alternative formats, publisher, distributor, publication date, and—most importantly—how to order or where to buy the book. This one-page marketing piece is a reference for book store managers, reviewers, media, and prospective buyers. It will be needed often.

2. Establish the book on Amazon.com and Barnes & Noble’s Web site and set up an Amazon Author’s Page. It’s tedious but possible to follow their online directions. Most books are now sold online so this is an essential step.

3. Send out a press release to local newspapers, reviewers, alumni associations, and other organizations in your network. Nurture contacts and remember to say thanks.

4. Tell everyone you know! Notify your contact list of the launch of your new book. Send an e-blast upon publication and stay in touch with all upcoming events and publicity. Be sure to include a link to your Web site.

5. Join professional writers’ organizations for networking, inspiration, and continuing education in your craft.

6. Contact book reviewers and give a few copies to friends with the request that they write online reviews on Amazon and elsewhere. Write reviews of others’ books on Amazon, as well.

7. Post your good news on your blog and any other social media sites you use. Include the book cover image and ordering information.

8. Readings! Ask, “Who is interested in my type of book?” Develop a list of related speaking topics and offer programs for local bookstores, private groups, book clubs, and related organizations. Poetry is most effective when read aloud, plus this personal connection wins an audience and sells books.

9. Within the first year, enter your book in contests to compete for annual prizes and invaluable recognition.

Long-Term Strategy

1. Seek out ongoing open-mic poetry readings around town. Many small bookstores and coffee shops provide a venue for these impromptu programs. Become known as a performing poet to sell books on the spot and expand your outreach.

2. Continue to network personal contacts to propose programs to local book clubs. Join a book club listing online and schedule in-person readings nearby. You can also offer long-distance readings through phone conferencing and Skype.

3. Submit articles and guest blogs for print and online publications.

4. Keep writing. Now that you’re established as a serious poet, start a new project to keep your momentum going!

It’s no secret that the publishing industry is in a massive transition, prompted by the ubiquitous Internet. Outdated methods and assumptions are no longer viable, and self-publishing is becoming mainstream. After previously producing two nonfiction books through traditional New York publishers, followed by a self-published memoir and now a poetry collection, I worked equally hard to publicize each one. Regardless of the mode of publishing, essential follow-up promotion and marketing are now done almost entirely by the author.

Finally, with Glimpses:A Memoir in Poetry, I’ve learned to enjoy the entire process. The difference with this book is that its appeal is so personal. Poetry awakens all the senses. Through live readings, I discovered the delight of seeing an audience respond to my written/spoken words–from the heart. This has been my greatest reward as a writer.

Carol’s books are available online at www.amazon.com/author/carolgrever
or on her Web site www.carolgrever.com

Again, thank you, Carol! Your advice is spot on.

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A book promotion “don’t-do”

There are some things you shouldn’t do for book promotion. Here’s a question that just came to me, via email, from a “prospective book publicity client”:

Hello Dear,
I am an author who is currently working on a book and I wonder if you offer a service where you buy 500 -100 copies of a book to increase the sales rank of an author?

Kind Regards
XXXXXX [I have masked the name of the author to protect his/her identity)

Because of the odd language, I suspected that one of two things is true about the sender of the email. Either the email was written by someone for whom English isn’t a first language, or the author isn’t playing with a full set of Legos. Or, perhaps, both of those things are true.

Anyway, here is the reply I fired off to the author:

In a word, no. I don’t engage in practices I consider unethical.

Stacey Miller
S. J. Miller Communications
www.bookpr.com

*sighing* I know we all want to sell books, and our ranking in online bookstores does matter. However, there’s a way to promote books, and then there are book promotion ploys to avoid. Hiring a book promotion specialist to purchase books from a bookstore (a traditional bookstore or an online bookstore) is, plain and simply, a dishonest practice, and this book publicist would never even consider it.

Hopefully, no book publicist would.

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Are we entitled to book promotion?

Are we entitled to book promotion? Or book sales? Or shelf space in a particular bookselling venue? Joan Rivers seems to think Costco has banned her autobiography, I Hate Everyone … Starting with Me, and I guess that’s possible. However, the book publicist in me tends to think that Joan Rivers is on the wrong track here. Many books are pitched to Costco. Given Costco’s limited shelf space (so to speak), few books are chosen. Saying that Costco banned Joan Rivers’ autobiography is like suggesting that “Entertainment Tonight” banned Joan Rivers’ memoir by choosing not to schedule her as a guest or that Publishers Weekly or Library Journal banned Rivers’ autobiography by deciding not to review it (assuming “ET” didn’t book Joan Rivers, and assuming PW and Library Journal didn’t review Rivers’ memoir, which I don’t know to be the case).

So, okay, Costco might have found Joan Rivers’ book (or Joan Rivers herself) to be objectionable, and its book buyer may have decided to forgo the opportunity to stock Joan Rivers’ book. But does one potential book buyer deciding to not buy a book constitute a boycott? Joan Rivers seems to think so…but this book publicist, I’m happy to say, has a bit more common sense than that.

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Book promotion: How to Abuse the Privilege

Would you like to abuse the privilege of embarking on a book promotion campaign and scoring A-list media coverage? Then follow the example of Chase Brandon, former CIA agent. Brandon is promoting his new novel, The Cryptos Conundrum, whose publication was more or less timed to coincide with the 65th anniversary of the incident and subsequent cover up(or non-event, and the crazy myth-making and rumor-spreading that followed the non-event, as the case may have been) as the case may have been) at Roswell, NM.

Brandon (and his new novel) garnered coverage in Time Magazine, the Huffington Post, and other top media outlets. All of that book publicity and the nice timing of the book’s publication have helped the book’s Amazon ranking; it’s just a shade about 5,000 as I write this.

So, evidently, Brandon saw something in the secret files about Roswell that he’d like to tell us about but just can’t bring himself to divulge (just like all the other intelligence agency people who saw things in the secret files about Roswell and can’t bring themselves to talk about). Touching, isn’t it? Brandon has a secret (Brandon has a secret, Brandon has a secret, Brandon has a secret!) but doesn’t want to share it with the poor schlubs who’d be scared to death (and, perhaps, scarred for life) if he did.

Now, I’m not taking sides here. Maybe there really was a UFO that crashed at Roswell, NM, or maybe it was a weather balloon, or maybe something else happened that I just don’t happen to know about (and, maybe, wouldn’t want to know about, since evidently Captain Kirk or Captain Picard weren’t around to deal it — whatever “it” was). But if Brandon knows more about this then I do, and he’d like to earn the editorial space and airtime that the top media outlets are granting him, then let him spill it: all of it. Book promotion, in this book publicist’s opinion, isn’t about teasing. It’s about saying it. Either saying it, or hushing. In this case, since Brandon has no specificity to offer, I wish he’d taken the latter route and just hushed altogether. And I wish his book promotion campaign were a bit lower key. That’s all I have to say.

Stacey J. Miller is a book promotion specialist and founder of S. J. Miller Communications. Visit her at www.bookpr.com (connecting with her on Facebook or Twitter is strictly optional).

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Book Promotion When the Time Is Right

It’s so simple to self-publish a book that, according to a thoughtful Forbes article, it’s tempting for many authors to move forward to quickly. According to Forbes, authors are using social networking to promote books that aren’t ready for book promotion campaigns. Worse, authors are social networking to connect with book designers, literary agents, publishers, and others in the book publishing industry to move forward their book publishing project when, unfortunately, their books aren’t ready for publication. The only thing more embarrassing than publishing a book that’s not ready to be published is having your intended readership learn, through your book promotion campaign, that you’ve had the bad judgment to publish your not-ready-for-prime-time book. Running your manuscript through spell check isn’t enough. You have to have your book professionally edited and, in some cases, you might even be well advised to get some help in turning your manuscript from a mediocre manuscript into a polished, professional manuscript that will help you establish credibility and build your brand.

I was scanning Amazon’s Kindle bestseller list recently and happened upon a novel that tempted me until I read the reviews. To paraphrase one readers review, “Come on, everyone. Cut the author some slack. Don’t be so hard on him. This is his first novel. Could you do as well your first time? So what if it isn’t perfect. It’s still a valiant first effort.” Do I want to read a novelist’s first effort? Maybe, if that novelist is J.D. Salinger. Otherwise, not so much.

So Forbes’s article is right on target. Self-publishing can be a terrific opportunity to disseminate your messages, sell your products or services, and set yourself apart from your competitors. Book promotion campaigns can work to your advantage when your book is excellent. If your book is anything less than that, then book promotion can wait.

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Book Promotion by Doodle

Can you doodle your way to a successful book promotion campaign? A free doodle app and web site called doodle.ly lets you launch a free (do you enjoy the concept of “free” book promotion as much as this book publicist does?) contest for readers and fans of your book. You can read more about how this doodling for book promotion idea works at GalleyCat. In short, though, you ask readers to doodle sketches related to your novel or nonfiction book for a chance to win prizes. The success of a doodle.ly book promotion campaign relies heavily on social networking to get readers excited about participating in the contest — thus, creating buzz for your book.

And speaking of book promotion, there’s good news for those of us who live in Greater Boston. Parts of Massachusetts (hopefully, that will include my part of Massachusetts) can expect to see thundershowers this afternoon and, with that, a cold front will approach. That means the three-day heatwave will come to an end. For those authors, publishers, and book publicists who are based in New England and have pitched a heatwave-related story to the media, does that mean your story idea is dead in the water. On the contrary…Massachusetts (and New England) residents have long known that, once summertime begins, it’s only a question of time until the next heatwave settles in. That means there will be ample opportunities to get media coverage if you can relate your book, and your expertise, to the summertime weather. So congratulations, Boston, on the approach of cooler weather. But do not fear. Your chance to pitch summertime stories to the media continues….

Stacey J. Miller is a book promotion specialist and founder of S. J. Miller Communications. Visit her at www.bookpr.com (connecting with her on Facebook or Twitter is strictly optional).

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Boston and Book Promotion

Boston is hot today. It’s 73 degrees in Boston as I write this, and the weather forecasters say that the temperature could reach 100 degrees in Boston (and in other parts of Massachusetts).

So what’s a book publicist (or an author or a book publisher) to do? Pitch a heat-related story to the Boston media outlets, of course!

Think about whether your expertise can inform those who are facing the beginning of Boston’s summer season in terms of healthcare, education, sports, real estate, workplace, parenting, entertainment, and the like — and pitch your story to the Boston media outlets. That can get you coverage, particularly if you’re a Boston-based author or publisher.

If you’re book promotion campaign is focused on other parts of the country, then note that there’s a heatwave in many major metro areas … and plan your book publicity efforts accordingly. This book publicist loves heat, and she loves summertime story ideas, and she’s ready to dive in — pun intended!

Stacey J. Miller is a book promotion specialist and founder of S. J. Miller Communications. Visit her at www.bookpr.com (connecting with her on Facebook or Twitter is strictly optional)

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Local Book Promotion Options — Part 2

In Local Book Promotion Options –Part 1, I explained why authors and publishers who are promoting their books on a national level should include local media outlets as part of their book publicity campaign. For example, a Newton, Massachusetts-based author who reaches out to national TV shows and is lucky enough to get an invitation to appear on, say, “Good Morning America,” should still pitch local media outlets (the “Newton Tab,” which is a community newspaper with a Newton, Massachusetts readership, for example), local radio stations (in this case, WNTN which is based in Newton), and the community newspapers and radio stations in surrounding cities and towns (such as, in this example, Arlington, Cambridge, Concord, Lexington, Weston, and others).

But you can take that a step further. Besides pitching media outlets that are local to where you live as part of your book promotion efforts, you can also pitch the community newspapers, and radio and television stations, in any other cities and towns where you have (or have had) strong ties: where you were born and raised, where you went to school, where you work, where your family lives, and so forth. So if you’re currently living in Newton, Massachusetts but you were born in Seattle, you went to school in Los Angeles, your first job was in Houston, and your parents are living in Miami … you have four new sets of local media outlets, beyond the Newton, Massachusetts media outlets, to contact and incorporate into your book promotion plans.

To that list, you can add any cities or towns you happen to be visiting. So if business meetings take you from the Boston, Massachusetts area to four other cities on the Eastern Seaboard, factor the local media outlets in the “tour cities” into your book promotion plans, too. Emphasize the local news hook — when you’ll be in town, what you’ll be doing when you’re there, and how your expertise can tie into the events that are happening there or the controversies that are unfolding or the politics of the area.

After a “Good Morning America” appearance, it may seem lackluster to find yourself appearing on local radio shows or being interviewed by weekly newspaper reporters. But every interview you do adds to your portfolio and reaches a new audience, so no media outlet is “too small” or “too insignificant” to be a worthwhile component of your book promotion campaign.

And, after all, local media outlets are seeking local media news hooks and local story angles which you know you can provide. So why not give the media what it needs? It will benefit your book publicity efforts and become part of your sustained book promotion campaign.

Stacey J. Miller is a book promotion specialist and founder of S. J. Miller Communications. Visit her at www.bookpr.com (connecting with her on Facebook or Twitter is strictly optional).

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Local Book Promotion Options — Part 1

You’re looking for book publicity opportunities, with or without the help of a book publicist. What do you do?

Do you stick with national media outlets, or do you also pitch your book and your messages to local media outlets?

So many media outlets have a national audience these days. Radio shows that are streamed online can be heard by anyone in the country, and articles can be read by anyone in the world even when the article is originally printed in a local newspaper or magazine as long as that media outlet has a web presence … and nearly every newspaper and magazine does have an online counterpart so their readership expands far beyond the areas you’d expect.

That said, media decision makers — particularly, community newspaper editors — still search for local stories. So while you’re seeking national media attention, don’t overlook the obvious: reaching out to weekly newspapers in your area in addition to pitching the daily (or larger) newspapers that cover your media market. You haven’t covered all the author promotion possibilities until you’ve reached out to the local media in your area and let them know you are available for interviews and your book is available for review.

For example, let’s say you’re an author who’s based in Newton, Massachusetts. Of course, you’ll contact the editors at the daily newspapers in Boston, Massachusetts and the surrounding areas. You’ll contact editors at the Boston Globe and the Boston Herald and let them know about your story idea. You’ll probably also reach out to the Worcester Telegram & Gazette (a large daily newspaper in Central Massachusetts), the Patriot Ledger (a top daily newspaper in Southern Massachusetts) and the Boston Phoenix (a weekly Boston-based entertainment and arts newspaper) as a matter of course.

But, if you’re a Newton, Massachusetts-based author, don’t bypass other print book promotion opportunities in the Boston area — specifically, in Newton, Massachusetts — just because they’re smaller media outlets. For example, be sure to put The Newton Tab‘s and Newton Living Magazine editors on your contact list.

Beyond local print media, you’ll also want to contact the New England Cable News TV network which is based in Newton, Massachusetts, WNTN-AM (which, again, is based in Newton, Massachusetts), and more along with the Boston radio stations (among them, WBZ-AM and WRKO-AM which have a national listening audience although they still are local radio stations) and the Boston network affiliate TV statons including WBZ-TV, WCVB-TV, WCBS-TV, WFXT-TV (Boston’s Fox TV station), WSBK-TV and WLVI-TV (Boston’s two independent TV stations), and others.

You can also contact small community newspapers associated with other nearby cities in Massachusetts: Cambridge, Brighton, Brookline, Arlington, Concord, Lexington, Quincy, Massachusetts … well, you get the idea. If there’s a city near where you live, that city has its own local newspapers, and it probably has its own radio station. And maybe it also has its own local cable television station, too.

So, when you’re seeking national book promotion opportunities, think local. You’ll have an obvious news hook, and you can leverage the fact that you know what’s going on where you live and can address happenings (in this case, for example, in Newton, Massachusetts). Because you’re a local author (local to somewhere in the country, if not Newton, Massachusetts), you’ll most likely know the local media outlets off the top of your head and be able to reach out to them directly with appropriate story pitches — or, at least, you’ll be able to make sure your book publicist has reached out to all of the local media outlets. Never assume your local book publicist has all the media bases covered. Just be sure you have a list of all of the media outlets to which you can pitch a local media story, and don’t leave out a single one. Each book promotion opportunity you garner, big or small, is another step on your path to maximum visibility for your book and your messages.

Stacey J. Miller is a book promotion specialist and founder of Greater Boston, Massachusetts-based S. J. Miller Communications. Visit her at www.bookpr.com.

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