Monday, November 15, 2010

Promotion. What the heck REALLY works?

Every author is out there on the Internet and hitting up all the social networking sites and loops trying to promote their books. I look at some of the loops I originally joined and wonder if they're really just full of authors advertising their latest release? Are readers really on these things? With the increasing popularity of ebooks, I suspect publishers are getting out more and more books, faster than ever. It's a tough climate to make your book stand out from everyone elses. And of course, a depressed economy means the competition for decreasing dollars spent is even more fierce. So, what actually works in getting your message, your name and information about your book to the people who could be your potential readers? The issue with book sales of course, is that it is months before you know from your publisher how your book has sold. The delay is even longer for sales made through 3rd party book sellers. The process doesn't provide the right data in a timely enough manner to adjust any strategies in a hope of influencing sales, even if there was a way to determine what worked and what didn't. I'm really just starting on this journey of understanding options for promotion, utilizing marketing dollars effectively and judging what might actually produce results BUT I don't approach any of this with the goal to sell a particular book. I want a long term career as an author, so I focus instead on trying to raise awareness about who I am, what I do and the kind of  books I write. I'm attempting to build a brand and concentrating on establishing a back list of books. I think that's the best use of my time right now, but who really knows?

If you're an author what have you found effective (or not) when it comes to promotion? If you're a reader, how do you find new authors and books generally? Do you think you're influenced in any way by 'advertising'?


  1. Well, since I am yet to be published, I can't help with what's effective (although I'm dying to find out what others say). I will say, as a reader, I'll often try out a new author based on a cover/blurb (either somewhere like amazon or on the author's website), but I always buy books from an author that I've gotten to 'know' online. It could be on blogs or forums. The key is that they're friendly and they reach out by giving good advice or support to aspiring writers. That always gets me. I would think that non-writers would also 'bond' with an author who feels like a friend. Just my inexperienced take :)

  2. I agree with exactly what Rula said above. My feelings exactly... when authors reach out to aspiring writers you can't help but feel you want to buy and read their books!

  3. Hey Rula, yeah I thikn a cover is really important as well. Even though we all know 'you can't judge a book by a cover', I don't think we can help by influenced by it. I wonder how many readers realize authors have little input into covers other than providing an overall guideline? I also hear that more and more - that readers buy from authors they 'know' online. I guess there's just more access to just about everyone these days. I think your take is pretty good!

    Nas, of course we can't forget that writers and those aspiring to be published are a big pool of readers out there.

  4. How timely! I participated in a yahoo loop chat yesterday to introduce all the authors of my publisher to readers. We had a good discussion going, but it was authors talking to authors.

    That's the problem with so many author events and so-called groups. I joined a few in the past and I was inundated with promos. I end up deleting them in a wholesale lot. It's too overwhelming.

    The two areas I've found where readers actually congregate are and Goodreads. The groups on those two sites are actual living, breathing readers. By posting and joining in discussions, you can make yourself known.

    The philosophy I try to follow (and I may not always be succesful) is to not oversell, overpitch, but to make it very easy for readers to buy my book or get the info. they need.

    Cara Bristol, author, Spanked!

  5. As you say it's hard to quantify what works and what doesn't. The Internet has changed things during the last 3 - 5 years and these days there's an awful lot of competition. I think it's important to have a website still, one that's clear and easy to navigate. It's also important to pick a few promo activities and also do the things you enjoy most be it Facebook, Twitter or something else.