1 Dec 2008
Journalist and novelist Liane Carter draws on her own experience to give tips on publicity. Her website is www.lianecarter.com.
You throw your heart and soul into writing the book and suffer the painful growth of editing. But how much are you prepared to do when it comes to publicity?
It can be uncomfortable approaching people and selling yourself. You may not have the funds - or want to part with them - to enhance your promotion. The trouble is if you´re not willing to invest in yourself, why should anyone else?
First things first – you need a forum to sell your book. If no one knows about it, no one is going to buy it.Join groups and, if you can, make them work for your writing career. I joined Toastmasters to gain confidence in public speaking pre-release so I would be confident at book signings and speaking engagements. I´ve met some wonderful people, learned some valuable tips and have a group who want to buy the book. Toastmasters are all over the world. Check them out on the web. Join Facebook if you haven´t already. It´s a phenomenal forum for spreading the word. You go onto the box on the right and click on “groups”. You then create a group about your book and invite all your friends to tell their friends and so on. I went from 30 friends to over 200 in my group in three days. Look into joining other groups such as Bebo and make a video to post on Facebook, www.meettheauthor.co.uk, and utube.
Your shop window
The best tip I´ve been given about publicity is by Andrew Lownie: your website is your shop window. All publicity material can carry your website address but if you haven´t invested in a professional website, will people want to keep visiting? You´re making this for your readers – your customers. You need to entertain and engage them. What would you want?
Prepare your website in advance so you aren´t doing everything at the last minute. Know how you want it to look and what content you want. I designed my website 8 months before my book was released because I knew how important it would be. When things started getting hectic pre-publication it was such a relief to know I had three A4 sheets of instructions and precise layout ready to hand over to my web designer.
Tease your audience and give them snippets
Make them special. Give a select audience information before anyone else. Whether it be via Facebook, Bebo or email send out tempters pre-launch. Make the people excited about what´s coming. I posted an extract from the book, then a picture of one of the characters with a description, then the back cover artwork, then an invitation to a book signing, and then my video link on www.funkytv.com It´s also wonderful to share these exciting things with others.
Getting out thereGo and visit local shops and ask if they will stock your book. If you expect your publisher to do it all, you don´t really want to reach the bestseller list. If the shops don´t want to do book signings, ask if they would like to stock signed copies and put up a poster. Put yourself forward for speaking engagements and contact schools if appropriate for your book. Make a list of all categories of people who would be interested in your book and where you can find them. Then set yourself a target of approaching five people in each area every week. Give them a flyer or a free bookmark. Prepare a press release. Send it to your local newspaper. Then send the same or a different one a month later to another newspaper. By spreading out the press release you jog memories of people who read it the first time and keep interest in your book over a longer initial period. Have flyers or bookmarks with you at all times. Break through your comfort zone and offer them to people wherever you go. The majority of people are very happy to talk to an author. Be brave.
Book signingsAllow enough time so you can promote the signing. Ask the store manager if they´ll put a poster in the window advertising the signing. If they will, provide it. Ask the store manager if they are willing to put flyers and/or bookmarks promoting the book signing in with all purchases three weeks before the event. If they are, provide flyers/bookmarks. Have a give away. I´m giving away bookmarks at my signings and jellybeans (people receive messages in the book via flying giant jellybeans). Have a photographer. All people that buy my book in store at the signing have an opportunity to have their picture taken with me and the book. These are then posted on the website after the event. It´s an extra thank you for people coming to the event and buying the book. Know how important the staff are and appreciate them. Find out what they provide - table, chair, nibbles – and what they expect from you, so you are organised and working as a team. Arrive well before the allotted time so you can set up.
I hope these things help you achieve more exposure for your book. Good luck and happy publicising!