How to Promote a Book?

Thursday, January 14th, 2010 • 4 Comments on How to Promote a Book?

So, I have a book coming out this summer and I know I need to start thinking about promotion.  I read somewhere (and there’s an irony to the fact that I can’t remember where I read it) that readers need to see a title/author a certain number of times before they will actually buy the book.  Was it three?  Ten?  I have no idea.  I just remember the gist of the article being that you need to get your name and book title in front of the audience several times before it’ll make an impact.  (Anyone know what I’m talking about here?)

But what to do?  I know what others have done and I’ve sort of been paying attention (seriously, I need some ginko biloba or something, because I can’t remember anything lately), but I don’t know what to do for my book.  A dedicated blog?  A book trailer?  Postcards and bookmarks?  Advertisements in print magazines?  Advertisements on high-traffic blogs?  Interviews and book reviews?  Do I “friend” every single person on Facebook and then inundate them for the next five months with reminders that my book is coming out?  Just kidding about that last one.  I personally hate that and wouldn’t do it to anyone else.  But still, what’s a writer (in this case, editor) to do?

I have heard that the best publicity is selling more books.  The more books with your name on the cover, the more readers will remember you, the more sales you will make for all of your books.  Lovely sentiment, and one I hope to prove true in a few years, but this is my first anthology for Cleis Press.  Hopefully it won’t be the last, but it would be nice if the book didn’t tank so I might have future anthologies to promote.

What are you doing to promote yourself, writers?  Perhaps the better question is, what worked for you?  All the clever promotion in the world won’t necessarily sell books and I know many talented authors who lament that fact.  Likewise, having a real book promotion budget is lovely, but you might as well flush your money down the toilet if you don’t market your book in the right way.  Do readings and book signings sell books or are they just for fun and writerly camaraderie?  Are social networks helpful when it seems like every author on the planet is Tweeting, Facebooking or MySpacing about their book?

How about you, readers (whether you’re also a writer or not)?  What makes you buy a particular book?  Was it the blog post you read on the author’s website?  Was it word-of-mouth through a friend on Facebook?  Was it an advertisement in a magazine?  Was it the review you read online?  All of the above?  Something else?

Personally, I love discovering new authors.  But I don’t buy as many books as I used to, so that makes me pickier.  I do buy books by friends and colleagues, but no author is going to sustain their writing career based on their social circles.  (Well, it might be possible for some authors but I’m not one of them.)  I buy books that others recommend, too.  That’s why I ask what you’re all reading from time to time.  I’ve bought books based on reviews—more for the plot summary that the reviews offer rather than the opinion (though if a reviewer hates a book I might think twice).  Book trailers are clever and I do watch them, but I don’t think I’ve ever bought a book based on a trailer.  (However, the trailer might have made me remember the book when I later ran across it in a different context.)  I’ve also bought books by their covers, despite the old saying.  Which makes me grateful for the lovely book cover I was given for Fairy Tale Lust.  Hopefully the cover alone will sell a few copies.

So, where was I?  Oh yes, I’d love to hear your thoughts on book promotion.  Right now, I’m a sponge, just absorbing it all as I contemplate my plan of action. (Insert maniacal laugh here.)  I love reading author interviews and finding out what inspires them, so I plan to do a dedicated blog.  I’m not sure how to drive traffic to it, so thoughts on that are appreciated, too.  I’ll be soliciting book reviews as well, both from print and online magazines and from individuals willing to post their reviews on Amazon and other bookstore sites. (I hate how few book reviews Barnes & Noble has compared to Amazon. Has anyone else noticed this?)  I don’t know what else to do, though.


Posted by Kristina in Writing
  • I’m just getting into the “groove” of trying to get a novel published, and so this topic is near and dear to my heart.  However, being as I’m currently in the same struggle as you, I’m not sure I’ll have a lot of wisdom to pass along.

    As a reader, I’m persnickety.  I’ll read books by writers whose work I admire, and books recommended by friends whose taste I trust.  Sadly, I don’t think any promotional vehicle works for me.  Part of this can also be traced to the fact that I deal with marketing very heavily in my nine to five, which probably makes me a bit jaded.  Sometimes I think because of my day job experience, I should have a better idea of what would be the right way to go when selling a book.

    It ain’t so.

    Anyway, I’m afraid I haven’t been much help, but I want you know I’m pulling for you!


  • All I know is, if you put an “adult content” warning on a blog, Google stops picking it up.  So think about the level of smut and how much risk you want to take of it being flagged by hostile readers. If it’s a short-life-time promotional blog it probably won’t be blocked until it’s done its job, no matter what you put on it. (I never got my blog flagged when it was warningless, not in 2 years. Of course now it HAS got a warning, I put up ruder pictures.) Oh – and Lustbites never got flagged despite carry frequent smutty excerpts. Pictures are counted more offensive than text by a loooong way. 

    P.S. I buy books based on the cover. I am perpetually disappointed, of course.

  • Kristina says:

    Thanks, Craig.  Successful self-promotion is an elusive thing, isn’t it?  I’ve seen self-promotion accomplish amazing things (especially if you can get your book into the right hands to generate sales), but it seems to be a one-in-a-million chance.  Self-promoting effectively without sucking up all an author’s time and/or money may be more about luck than skill.  Or maybe that’s me just being jaded. wink

  • Kristina says:

    Janine—Wow, I had no idea about the adult content issue.  I assume you’re talking about Blogger?  That’s the way I was planning to go, rather than registering a URL and building my own site (more time consuming than I’d like right now). Interesting.  Thanks for the information!

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