Thursday, January 10, 2008



If you’ve just joined us this blog is about getting that book idea from your head to the shelf . Last week we talked about some of the important promotional things that you can do with your publisher. This week we’ll explore some of the many things that you can and should do on your own. This list is by no means exhaustive and I would encourage everyone to be creative in your marketing approaches. Talk to other authors, attend BEA (the national book convention which this year will be held in Los Angeles) to get an idea of what other authors are doing to publicize their book. But the most important thing is to do something, don’t just wait for your publisher (or publicist, if you have one) to do all the work. Promoting a book is an active “sport” and one where you’ve got to be the one to roll up your sleeves and get it done.

The following are just a few of the basics that you should do:. (1) Create a web site and/or My Space page. This is very important in terms of creating a place where you can post information about yourself, your book your upcoming signings and of course put in place viral marketing. This is frankly an area where I wish that I had concentrated more resources on, and will for my next book. Web marketing can be a powerful tool and increasingly “A” list authors are using their sites and web marketing to generate substantial sales;. (2) Set up book signings in as many cities as possible. You can approach local book stores or the chains through their Community Relations person at each store, to see about setting up signings at the book store or what are called “off sites” where you have the book signing at a friend’s house, restaurant etc. and the book store sends someone to “vend” the event.

These book signings take some leg work and time on your part but they’re worth it. I’ve found that the “off sites” which are done as a book party at a friend’s house with their guest list usually work particularly well. You’ll generally have at least 30-50 people and most people will buy one and sometimes several books. At the book signings I would suggest that you read a passage from your book and then discuss your journey in getting the book published. (3) Submit your book to on line reviewers and major Black book clubs (not the book of the month type above) but some of the larger Black book clubs with hundreds of members. These clubs also receive submissions from hundreds of authors but it is worth at least reaching out to them because if one of them does pick up your book it’s great word of mouth on top of the sales. (4) Meet with local book clubs, these are the book clubs that friends or colleagues are a part of or can recommend you to.

Often there may be less than ten members, but again the positive word of mouth plus the guaranteed sales make book clubs great marketing vehicles. (5) Reach out to local radio, print and magazines in your area. Get out your rolodex and make a list of anyone that you know who may know someone at any local or national media outlet and get a copy of your book to them. This is essentially what PR agents do, but if you do it yourself, at least you know it’s being done.

A note on PR agents, like anything else some are good, most are not. Before you spend a lot of money on a PR agent (because they’re not cheap and they never guarantee results) I would suggest that you only go with one who has been recommended by someone who has had positive results with that agency promoting a work similar to yours.; (6) back to what else you can do: submit your book for awards, most rewards have entry fees but again if you win, or are at least nominated, it’s great publicity; (7) Submit your book to the local public library and if they have author panels or discussions with authors try and be a part of those. Libraries can be important vehicles in establishing reader loyalty. Finally, shamelessly promote your book to everyone that you meet. Have cards made of your book cover with your website and contact info and pass them out liberally.

These are just a few of the many things that you can do to promote your book, but if you do most if not all of these you should be on the way to really getting the word out! Next week we’ll talk about some of the other alternative platforms for promoting your book. If you’re interested in more information about my novel A DEAD MAN SPEAKS, check out my website at or you can email me at



Sam Cass said...

Hi, I saw your post. Great information. I also wanted to recommend that authors sign up for a Booksie account and post an excerpt of their writing as well as their profile. The site is a great place for authors to get free exposure to a large reading community.

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