Having a book published is an incredible accomplishment, and having your publisher announce the book in newspapers and magazines is a sure ego-boost. However, the sad news is that after the initial press releases have been sent out, publishers usually go on to the next book, and the next. Basically, as most authors have discovered, if they want the book to sell, authors have to find ways to promote the book themselves and keep finding new ways to do it.
Below are several successful promotion tips that NATJA members have used—as well as ideas that haven’t worked out:
“My secret marketing weapon,” explains Linda Ballou, author of Wai-nani, High Chiefess of Hawaii, “is Denise Cassino of Web Wizardry fame. I’ve discovered that having a platform in place before publishing is an absolute necessity.
“Cassino helped me build my Web page (www.lindaballouauthor.com), and we worked together to create an aesthetically pleasing site that viewers would enjoy visiting, add comments and, hopefully visit again. I gave her the content; she massaged it into a nifty online media page that I used to create a really nice pamphlet. I hand them out to those who might invite me to speak, or to a book seller who has expressed interest.”
Ballou says, “I knew I couldn’t do all the online marketing that requires regular updates on social sites and blogs, so I made a deal with Cassino to help me keep bulletins up-to-date with announcements to my page. From the virtual book tour she put in place, we got six online interviews, other writing sites, and four radio interviews. I feel we accomplished a lot since my book was released. A press release was sent out to everyone we could think of. As for actual book sales, I think it all takes time, persistence, and tenacity to put your best book forward.”
In marketing Paris Revisited: The Guide for the Return Traveler, Gary Lee Kraut (www.parisrevisited.com) has found that what works best, as a general rule, is that “the closer my promotion is to my target audience, the better the sales. My book is intended for travelers who already have been to Paris, so my best promotions are those that are directed to experienced international travelers. Furthermore, any promotion/article/review that presents me as an expert on the destination that I’m writing about enhances sales.
“What works best are direct sales when I give lectures to experienced travelers at universities and libraries and to Francophile groups. Since I’m the publisher as well as author, such direct sales allow for the greatest return on investment. Making contacts with Web sites that might review or mention my book or my work also works well. I know this because I receive a sudden burst of sales on Amazon shortly after the book is mentioned. Building a Web site that provides information that isn’t in the book also helps sales since the book and the site are then seen as complementary.”
What hasn’t worked too well for Kraut? “Bookstore promotions and efforts to get bookstores to order more copies because it’s too time-consuming to be worthwhile. Kraut knows which promotions have worked. “At my lectures, I know the number of sales immediately. Otherwise,” notes Kraut, “I can tell by the burst of purchases on Amazon, or early on in the life of the book through purchases by wholesale distributors to bookstores.”
“Book promotion is usually left up the author, since publishers invariably have more books than publicists,” notes NATJA advisory board president Dan Schlossberg. “As an author of 34 baseball books, I have found promotion varies widely—but is almost always directly proportional to the size of the publisher. My current publisher, Penguin Books, has many imprints and a big publicity staff. They are the first publisher to have asked me to do a podcast, which will be released to coincide with the baseball postseason. They also found a new niche for my books—the ‘family market,’ positioning baseball as an attraction families can enjoy together. “Penguin also insisted I set up a Web site (www.baseballbits.com) which is now online, and is a real showcase for the book.”
After authoring eight books, I’ve benefited from several promotional ideas, such as creating a Web site (www.funtravels.com). I offer those who contact me an opportunity to purchase an autographed book. Handing out business cards to people I meet directs them to my Web site. Stopping in at bookstores, gift shops, sporting goods stores, etc., where my books can be displayed sometimes entices the manager to order the book. Creating brochures describing each of my books has helped tremendously. These are left at libraries and anywhere that handouts are distributed.
My most successful promotional effort has been the creation of slide/talk shows based on my book topics. These are presented, for a fee, to schools, garden clubs, and various organizations. After each presentation, I offer my books for sale at retail price. Often, individuals in the audience tell others about the presentation and I’m invited to other places.