Outsourcing your promo can help you present a cheerful ‘game face’ at all times and give the impression that you’ve got everything under control. It can help ensure you stick to your projects and deadlines and have plenty of time for family and don’t get overwhelmed.
It’s time consuming to keep up with all the emails, the social media sites, coming up with new contests and promotions for each book, handling reader / fan mail, lining up reviews and interviews, sending out goodies to conferences, and so on. Making sure you and your book are well represented, especially when you can’t be everywhere, is not an easy thing to juggle with an already packed schedule. Best of all, outsourcing doesn’t have to cost a fortune.
What are the particular benefits for a series author, considering the short shelf life?
Most series authors have more deadlines in a year than a single-title author, and more pressure to keep up with said deadlines plus all the other responsibilities in life. If you left the promo part to someone else and just concentrated on the writing, it could mean more time to write, ease of delivering completed manuscripts on time and still leave time for family and a little fun.
I’ve had one series author client tell me she found time to write one more novel each year by outsourcing her promo.
What are authors' biggest mistakes with promo?
Here are a few I personally think authors should be careful about –
*Not having a professionally designed and well maintained website. If you’re published you ‘must’ have a website so readers can find you. Your website is the first step in promo and also your ‘home’ on the internet. Put some good money into the designing by having a professional handle it for you.
*Not giving enough promotional importance to your book just because of the short shelf-life. Your books are available a full month prior to the actual release date and then for a full month (or even longer) online ‘after’ the shelf life. Milk that availability for all it’s worth. The shorter the shelf-life, the more concentrated your promo should be. You need to let readers know you’ve got a new book coming out soon and to create a buzz. Buzz creates energy and can help build momentum when a new author debuts or when a new book comes out.
*Failure to build a reader contact list. From the moment you receive your first fan letter, it’s important to start building your contact list. Make sure you know how and where to reach them (email and mailing address).
*Disregarding the power of the banner ad. I’ve heard some authors say a banner is a waste of time and money. I strongly disagree. A banner is a stress free way of getting some advertising for your book and name exposure for yourself. It’s silent advertising. The power doesn’t lie in the number of ‘clicks’ your website receives from that ad. (they’re definitely a perk but not the main purpose of a banner ad.) The power is in continuous name recognition and title exposure.
*Failing to put some careful thought into your business card or promo goodie. Please don’t take advantage of that the great offer that just popped into your mailbox for 250 free business cards (or postcards) – no matter how tempting it sounds. We’re talking about your reputation here and this business is all about perception. Perception is Everything! Spend a little time on research. Your local Office Depot can give you a really great deal on these cards if going to a designer is too expensive at the moment.
What upcoming trends do you see in promo?
There seems to be strong emphasis on ensuring authors are being interactive in online communities and social media websites. Anything that involves interaction with your readers, like blogging, book trailers, special excerpts and rewarding readers, is important. They’re your fans and they want to interact with you. Give them the opportunity and a place to be your fans and remember to continuously reward them.
What kind of promotion do you think has the most impact on sales?
Excerpts - Putting an excerpt in the hands of your readers always goes a long way to help those sales numbers. Don’t wait for the reader to visit your website and find the excerpt. If you’re investing money in promotional goodies, instead of a cheap magnet and even cheaper pen, think about offering a card or booklet featuring a short excerpt with a hook to make them more curious about your book.
Newsletters that deliver excerpts, recipes, photos, character or location trivia and other fun stuff to readers in their mailbox. Encourage them to go out (or online) and buy the book without actually saying ‘go buy my book’. Newsletters are also a good way to make yourself available to readers one-on-one and help drive more traffic to your website.
Launch Contests – I know they cost money but you can be creative with them and make it fun. Readers are your fans. Fans love to be rewarded for showing you their love and support. If you keep rewarding them now and then, they’ll keep coming back and they’ll create the online buzz to help you sell more books.
Word of mouth and reader interaction – create that buzz online. Get your die-hard fans to help you spread the word about your upcoming book and be sure you’re available on social media sites, online forums and / or your blog regularly so fans can reach out to you.
I love it most when a client is pleased with the results of our promotional efforts; when a client’s book goes back for a second printing within six weeks or when a client emails to say she hit the NYT list with the first book we’ve worked on together for promo. Days like those make all the hard work and late nights worth it. I know the author(s) feel thrilled when they get such great news because they’ve put their heart and soul into making the book the best it can be but it helps me feel validated too – that all the promotional efforts I’ve helped put in have borne fruit and made my client feel pleased. It’s a really satisfying feeling.
What books are you looking forward to reading?
I have a lot of books on my tbr (and eBook) pile but a few right on top include Liz Fielding’s A Wedding At Leopard Tree Lodge, Donna Alward’s Sold To The Highest Bidder, Leigh Duncan’s The Officer’s Girl and A Cowboy’s Plan by Mary Sullivan. In terms of upcoming books, I’m really looking forward to reading Caitlin Crews second book but I think it’s going to be a while before I can get my hands on that one!
And the big one – are you still writing????
Thank you for asking. Yes, I am still writing though not as often as I might like to – or I should. Right now I’m trying to finish a partial for submission to Harlequin. My fingers are crossed… for so many reasons!
Thanks Lee for the great interview!
You can check out Author Sound Relations at www.authorsoundrelations.com . Don't forget to check out the ASR blog featuring a different author each day, and the Goody Room!