The Hardest Part
So you’ve written a book and found someone who wants to publish it. Now what? You sell three billion copies in the first week and the book gets made into a movie starring Julia Roberts and Richard Gere, right?
Oh yeah, that’s Pretty Woman and in real life, hookers don’t wind up with the big-hearted but misunderstood wealthy and handsome business man and go from walking the streets to shopping on Rodeo Drive. And in real life, most authors do not hit the big time immediately and, in fact, most never do.
I didn’t write a book to get rich and famous, but I do want people to buy it. (And, course, I’ve cast the movie just in case.) While I didn’t self-publish my book, I’m responsible for most of the promotion, not my publisher. These days, unless you are a big name author, you are responsible for much of the promotion of your book. It’s a lot easier these days thanks to social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter, but it’s still extremely difficult to get the word out, especially for writers like me whose books are e-published. My novel can only be purchased online and since it is not available in brick and mortar stores, I am at a disadvantage in that shoppers cannot peruse the book shelves, see my pretty pink cover and decide to buy my book on impulse. And the cover really is quite pretty! I’m quite certain many “girly-girls” would buy the book based on the cover alone. (And most guys might buy it based on just the title!)
Although this is certainly not a “how-to” guide since I’m a complete newbie in this business, these are some actions I have taken to promote my book:
Before my book was released, I created a “fan” page on Facebook. I asked my friends and family to “like” the page and to suggest it to their friends. Most did. Some didn’t. And other friends still haven’t liked the page at all. (I guess they’re not very good friends.) I get very excited when the number of fans on my page increases and I see names of people I have never met. I mean, my sisters have to like my page but Joe Schmoe did it of his own accord and that makes me feel awesome. Thanks Joe Schmoe!! While “liking” my page is not equivalent to buying the book, I’ve been told by friends that their friends have, in fact, bought and really enjoyed the book. A few of these people posted as much on my wall, which made my day. And some have told their friends about it too. It’s like that Faberge Organics shampoo commercial from the 80s, “and she told two friends, and she told two friends and so on and so on and so on.” Ok, I might be showing my age here, but word of mouth is so important.
I bought the domain name, www.meredithschorr.com and had a website created to post excerpts to the book, links to purchase the book, information about me and blogs like the one you are reading. This is to increase my presence on the web. I include the website on all correspondence I send so that people know where to find me. And when an old boyfriend searches for me on Google, he’ll learn that I wrote a book, look at his fat, ugly wife and curse the day we broke up. Um, what I mean is that old friends who have no idea what I’ve been up to might come across my website and decide to purchase my book. A sale is a sale, even it’s from my high school enemy or douche-bag ex boyfriend, right?
I created author pages on Amazon and Goodreads and post my blog on both. Since I’m also an avid reader, I post my own reviews of other books on both of these sites. On Goodreads, I can see how many people have read my book which is both a good and bad thing. It’s good because I get excited when another person has added my book to her shelf. It’s bad because I am tempted to check my profile every ten minutes to see if the number has gone up. Usually it hasn’t
I have sent my book to be reviewed by people with websites dedicated to the chick-lit genre. If these people like my book, I hope they will promote it on their blog and that readers in my target audience will, hopefully, want to read it as well. These requests only went out recently but fingers and toes are cross. I’d cross my eyes too, but was told by my Hebrew school teacher they might stay that way. Or maybe that was only if someone hit me in the back of my head while I was cross-eyed. I don’t really remember but I am erring on the side of caution and only crossing my fingers and toes.
I have asked other authors in related genres to read the book and provide blurbs in the hope that fans of these authors will rely on their opinions and pick up their own copies of my novel. I have received positive feedback from some of these authors and I am still awaiting comments from others. I appreciate that people are busy and certainly do not expect anyone to stop her life to read my book, but I am most appreciative of the people who have. Thank you!
A very good friend of mine designed promotional bookmarks specific to my book and I have asked my friends to pass them along to anyone they know who might enjoy a light, fun read. I also give out bookmarks every month at the chick-lit book club I organize and I’ve left bookmarks at the gym, the library and various stores.
I’ve told just about everyone I know about my book, including my college, my writer’s workshop, current and past colleagues and peers from Romance Writers of America and Chick Lit Writers of the World and, as a result, the publication of my book will be featured in my college alumni magazine and my current employer’s newsletter and I have been asked to guest blog on related author sites.
These are just some of the things I have done to promote my book but there are many others and I’m sure I will continue to find new ways. One thing I have not done is have a book signing. If I lived in a small town, I would certainly approach my local book store but living in the Big Apple, my neighborhood book store is Borders and I’m pretty certain they would not be interested in a small-time author like myself. Maybe with book #2!
In conclusion, I’d like to confess that self-promotion is not something I enjoy. In fact, I quite dislike it. But I will get used to it and hopefully get better at it with time. I hate asking people, even friends, to do me favors like posting honest reviews, giving out my bookmarks, telling their friends about my book or even just reading it. I appreciate all of you who have helped and continue to help “pimp” my book (shout-outs to Ronni, Abbe, Alissa, Douglas, Erica, Mary Jean, Megan, Nabetsi and Rachel. And, of course, my mother. I can’t forget my mom who has told all of her friends at the JCC! XOXO) If I’ve left out your name, I apologize. Unless, of course, you have done nothing to pimp my book in which case, get moving!!! (I’m getting better at this already…)
To the writers out there: What types of promotion have worked for you? Do you find promotion difficult? Scary? Fun?
Leave a comment and let us know!
Meredith Schorr is the author of Just Friends With Benefits, a humorous women’s fiction novel. She lives in New York City and works as a trademark paralegal at a prestigious law firm. In addition to writing humorous women’s fiction novels, her passions include running, spending time with friends and family and rooting for the New York Yankees. Meredith is a member of Romance Writers of America and Chick Lit Writers of The World.