When the Book Promotion Well Runs Dry
By Patricia Fry
Do you ever feel as though you’ve been up and down every promotional street, avenue and pathway in every world city and you’ve come to that dreaded dead end? You wonder "Where do I go from here?" You feel as though you’ve tapped into every possible promotional opportunity available for your book and now you’re stuck. You’ve run out of ideas and resources. You don’t know where to turn or how to proceed. STOP! Don’t start burning books or throwing your computer out the window. Take a break. Breathe... Breathe... Breathe...
There, now don’t you feel better?
We all hit that brick wall of hopelessness once in a while. Sometimes it’s just a matter of exhaustion and stress. It’s nothing more than a strong signal that it’s time to step back and get a fresh perspective. Go take a walk, reorganize your office, putter in the garden, play with your cat, take a nap… You’ll come back to your office feeling a bit less frazzled and ready to resume the task of book promotion.
I didn’t hit the wall yesterday, but I was beginning to feel as though I was headed in that direction. It seemed as if I was running out of ideas for promoting my new book, "The Right Way to Write, Publish and Sell Your Book." Having several writing/publishing-related books under my belt, I know my way around the promotional block when it comes to this topic. I contacted my extensive mailing list. I sent review copies to those who typically review books of this type. I signed with Quality Books, entered my book into the Amazon Advantage program, and Barnes and Noble is considering my book for inclusion in their program. I’ve submitted numerous articles to dozens of writing/publishing-related magazines and newsletters to bring attention to this book. I contribute to my blog every few days and it’s showing up fairly often at Google. I’m in the process of setting up workshops. I have one coming up in Ventura in February/March. I’m flying to Honolulu to participate in a Pen Women’s writer’s conference in April. I’ll have my books in the SPAWN booth at the L.A Book Festival. I’m also working on getting gigs in VA, FL, TX, OK and AZ this year and probably MO. That’s a lot, but is it enough? I wondered what more I could do, so I put on my thinking cap.
I thought about all of the authors I meet who have no idea where to start when it comes to promoting their books. Most of us, when we enter into this field, believe in the concept "Write it and they will come." We also rely on bookstores to distribute our books to all of those readers who are out there searching for a book like ours. Once this idea is exposed for the fallacy that it is, the author suddenly feels alone, confused and as if he has been deceived. This is why I wrote "The Right Way to Write, Publish and Sell Your Book." And this is why I urge hopeful authors to read it BEFORE putting pen to paper.
Yes, I know, I started out talking promotion. No, I’m not off track—promotion should be one of a hopeful author’s first considerations when he/she feels that inkling to write a book for publication. Build promotion into your book. Create a following before you begin to write the book. Have a solid promotional plan in place before you ever start writing. Then when you hit the wall—feel as though you’ve run dry of promotional ideas, it won’t be nearly as hard to pick yourself up and move forward.
Here’s what I did this week to jumpstart my slightly diminishing promotional energy:
I contacted a writer friend and asked her to read my book, write a couple of reviews and submit them to a list of magazines and newsletters. She’ll get the writer’s credit and fee.
In the meantime, I did the research. I located some known and some obscure writing/publishing magazines and newsletters that publish submitted reviews, as opposed to doing the review in-house.
I was surprised by the number of newsletters I found. I printed out several of them and I subscribed to some of them. How did I find them? I started by searching for a directory of newsletters. I found a couple. I also found resource lists on major sites that listed magazines and newsletters that I didn’t know about. Then I did something that I don’t think most of us do very often. I went to the back pages that came up in a Google search. After viewing the first 2 or 3 pages, I clicked on page 10, page 16, page 23. It’s a whole new world back there—a valuable new world for someone who is promoting a book.
I also like to occasionally use search engines other than Google for a fresh look at what’s out there in cyberspace. Yahoo has a good search system and there’s AltaVista.com.
My little visit into the back pages of Google and to some of the other search engines yesterday has given me a huge new load of resources through which to promote "The Right Way to Write, Publish and Sell Your Book" and my other writing/publishing-related books.
Another thing I do when I feel the promotional well starting to dip near the panic level is open my promotional file. As an author, you do have a promotional file, don’t you—a folder that contains every book promotion idea you’ve ever had? Maybe now is the time to build a Web site or start blogging. Perhaps you can plan a book signing tour or rent a booth at a major book festival this spring.
Book promotion is an all-consuming activity. If you are an author, you probably already know this. If you are thinking about producing a book, you need to know that writing is the easy part. It’s what comes after that will keep you busy, test your creativity and stamina and sometimes drive you crazy. So write that great book, but also take the time to develop a promotional plan. And create a backup plan. Be prepared so that the next time you see the brick wall coming swiftly toward you, you can leap right over it without missing a promotional beat.
–Excerpted from Patricia Fry’s publishing blog. Read more of Patricia’s wisdom and frivolity at http://www.matilijapress.com/publishingblog.
—Patricia Fry is a full-time freelance writer and the author of 23 books. Her latest book is designed to help hopeful and experienced authors write a winning book proposal. "How to Write a Successful Book Proposal in 8 Days or Less (Matilija Press, 2005)," $12.99. Order at http://www.matilijapress.com.