~ By Nancy Fraser
Should an author promote themselves? Or, should they lean toward promoting their books? Is there a happy medium? Different publishers have different ideas and so do authors. The big push seems to be in promoting yourself as a person, using that personal connection to build up readers. Let’s take a closer look at the different methods of promotion.
Promoting the Author
More than one of my publishers swears this will work. Yet, just exactly WHAT should you tell the reader?
For instance, do they need to know I was married for 27 years but am now divorced? When promoting myself, I’m going to talk about my five wonderful grandchildren, whether they want me to or not … that’s a given. How about hobbies? Will your hobby be of interest to your readers? I, for one, collect antique wooden boxes and plan to use one specific box as a link between two novellas, one historical and one contemporary … a perfect way to tie personal promo and book promo.
One of my best received blog articles was called “Out of the Shoebox and Into a Book” and it dealt with where to find inspiration. The main gist of the article featured some items I’d found in a shoebox after my mother passed away. I also did a column right after my youngest son got married … another big winner!
However, some authors (like me) feel uncomfortable talking about themselves. How much is too much? Not enough? Personally, I don’t care to hear about someone’s recent surgery. And please, no matter what genre you write in, don’t talk about your sex life. That said, it would interest me to know that one of my favored authors just became a grandparent. Or that a younger, up-and-coming author just got married or had a baby.
Family anecdotes, especially those about the hubby, are always fun and relatively safe. Pictures of your children, grandchildren and pets go over well. Personal promo is a fine line. Just adhere to the principle that what you say will be shared and repeated … so use common sense.
Promoting the Book
Definitely an area where I’m more comfortable. There’s still an art to it all though. Again, how much is too much? Is there such a thing as “overdone”? Definitely. I’ve had a number of friends and acquaintances say they’ve “unfollowed” authors because they were sick of seeing their promo for the same book over and over again. Yes, it’s great to promote a book but a good rule of thumb is one post per day per media site. And, if you’re lucky enough to have more than one book to promote, alternate between them.
Any time you can post a cover you are going to attract more people to the promo. One of my historical novels won a cover award earlier this year. I chose to gear my promo to the cover win, rather than the book itself and sales went up every day for the week afterward. If you have a blog, creating a preview day is a great way to attract new readers. Give them at least one entire chapter, if possible, so they’ll read enough that they have to know the ending. Just be careful when posting. Some publishers do not allow more than a certain number of words to be used in promos.
Link your promo to a theme, if possible. One of my Golden Decade of Rock and Roll novellas is based on a song title that turns 50 next year. You can bet, on the anniversary if the song’s release, I will be promoting the heck out of it. Also, when my publisher is released my 2013 holiday novella from their Christmas anthology as a stand-alone for a Christmas in July promo I held a Rafflecopter draw and gave away handmade ornaments and other holiday goodies.
A Fresh Idea: Group Promotion
Group promotion is relatively new. A number of publishing houses are now doing Facebook parties and featuring all the books and authors from a specific line. The concept is great, as long as every book in the group gets a fair shake. It’s nice that readers will come to the party because of one author and meet a handful of new-to-them authors at the same time. Author groups are also a great way to self-promote. They tweet for you, post snippets to Facebook, and follow your blog. They’re also a great sounding board for questions, problems and offer a cyber-shoulder to cry on when you get a rejection.
An author from one such group recently recruited 30+ authors to take part in a cookbook. The prerequisite for submission was that the food item had to be mentioned in your book. Along with the recipe, we provided a 2-3 sentence blurb from the book that mentioned the food item. The story you were featuring was then linked to its Amazon page. The cookbook was then formatted and is now available from Amazon for the bargain price of 99 cents!
Whether you choose to go it alone, or to work as a group, any promo you get from another author is priceless. Reciprocation is a must, especially when it comes to media sharing.
The one thing to keep in mind, no matter which method of promotion you choose, is to put the best possible face on your media posts. Go for quality over quantity, class over shock value, and you’ll do just fine.
Like most authors, Nancy Fraser began writing at an early age, usually on the walls and with crayons or, heaven forbid, permanent markers. Her love of writing often made her the English teacher’s pet, which, of course, resulted in a whole lot of teasing. Still, it was worth it.
When not writing (which is almost never), Nancy dotes on her five beautiful grandchildren and looks forward to traveling and reading when time permits. Nancy lives in Atlantic Canada where she enjoys the relaxed pace and colorful people.