Friday, June 22, 2012

Cindy Dwyer Speaks to Spending Your Book Promotion Wisely

Cindy Dwyer - Promotion Ideas For New Authors

I follow an agent who once confessed on her blog that each time she opens a query letter, she hopes just as strongly as the aspiring author does that it contains the next bestseller.

This simple but profound concept changed the way I viewed not just querying, but promotion as well. Before this epiphany, I didn’t quite grasp the concept of authors, agents and publishers all being full emotional partners in the process of transforming a writer’s dream into a successful, published reality.

Recently, I received my first request for a full manuscript and book proposal. I’m convinced having to write this proposal was karma’s revenge on me for selecting an MBA program that allowed the option of taking three additional business classes instead of writing a thesis. But, I approached the promotion section with a different attitude than I might have before reading this agent’s blog.

While it’s true no one has a more vested interest in promoting your book than you do, there are many organizations that do have a keen desire to promote timely, well-written books in general. When you pursue promotion opportunities, you’re not asking for a one-sided favor. You’re looking to partner with organizations that are looking to promote authors, often at a very reasonable rate, if not for free.

What’s in it for them? In one capacity or another, they exist to promote books. With that as a big part of their mission, they’ll benefit from awareness and sales of your work.

Here are just a few suggestions of where new authors can find inexpensive promotional opportunities:

Local, Independent Booksellers
There’s a locally well-known independent bookstore in my area that hosts over 200 book events per year. Yes, many of these events are for best sellers, but they do offer opportunities to new, local authors as well. In this case, traditionally published and self-published authors can apply. When a book is accepted, the bookseller will organize a book signing by combining three new authors to bring in a wider audience.

The $125 fee covers the following:
  • Press release sent to all local TV, print, and radio media. They will help coordinate an interview if any media is interested.
  • E-mail calendar notices to their customers (this bookstore has a mailing list of over 11,000 people).
  • In-store advertising and event table display.
  • On-line advertising on their website and Facebook page.
  • Staffing and venue for the event.

Join and Participate in Your State’s Authors and Publishers Association
These associations exist for the sole purpose of bringing together people who want to discuss writing, publishing and marketing books for networking and event opportunities. Many offer free limited membership and full membership for a nominal charge (I joined for less than $50 per year).

The benefits aren’t just limited to monthly meetings and newsletters. The association in my state staffs a bookstore at the annual Eastern States Exposition, or Big E as it’s commonly called. This multi-state fair runs for seventeen days. For a fee of only $25, members can display their books for sale during the entire duration of the Big E. For additional fees of $25-$50 authors can also hold book signings.

Community Newspapers
If you perform a quick on-line search, you may be surprised by the circulation size of your community newspaper. And the best part? The editors are looking to cover items of community interest such as the high school sports teams and local people who are doing interesting things, like writing books. Not only would an interview and review of your book be free, but the publicity might be picked up by larger newspapers as well.

Just Ask
Whenever you meet anyone in the writing business – from authors to librarians to book sellers – inquire about promotional ideas and advice. This is not the same thing as asking them to promote your book for you. Instead, they likely will provide a wealth of ideas about how you can promote your book through existing outlets such as reading groups, websites and author events.

Some of these venues might be small, but it's safe to assume many of the people that attend these types of events intend to buy a book. Those are better odds than what you face when you bombard the same Facebook and Twitter followers with reminders of your recently published work.

Organizations like these are out there right now, searching for an author with a compelling book. It just might be your story they promote next.
Cindy Dwyer is currently seeking representation for her manuscript My Roots Are Showing. These narrative nonfiction humor essays explore the quirks of her family and portray her acceptance of the fact that she is turning into her parents. The only thing left to do is to prepare her husband for the inevitable.

You can follow Cindy on her website or on Twitter @CindyDwyerWords.

Cindy is also a member of Internet Writing Workshop, 

"The Workshop is open to all styles and genres of writing: literary fiction, genre fiction, poetry, children's writing, essays, newspaper articles, scripts, you name it. Members do not need to be published writers, only to be serious about writing and about wanting to improve."
IWW also includes Writing, the list where members of all the above lists touch base to discuss writing-related subjects, and post "Yahoos."


Rick Bylina said...

Cindy, good stuff. Also, don't forget to try your local NPR and other radio outlets for interviews, but do so with a long lead time so they can review your book. So many local authors get on, and the loyal listeners of any radio station can jump start local or beyond sales.

Write on!

Cindy Dwyer said...

That's great advice, Rick.

I think a lot of writers are intimidated by the marketing side of things (I know I was!) but there really are some ready outlets - if we know where to look for them.

Francene Stanley said...

Great article, Cindy. I know you'll follow your own advice like a shark after a shoal of sprats. Once you've eaten your starter, you'll flick on toward a larger meal.

Edith Parzefall said...

Excellent advice, Cindy. It's just far less intimidating to bleat and shout via twitter and facebook than walking up to a complete stranger and tell them about your book.

Fabulous metaphor, Francene. I feel like a goldfish. :-)

Cindy Dwyer said...

So true, Edith. I'm trying to remind myself that some of these strangers want to hear about our books more than some of our friends do.

An independent bookseller wants to offer great reading options and fun "meet the author" events to its customers to bring traffic into their store.

Think of it as you offering to help them, and it might be less intimidating! :)

Cindy Dwyer said...

Francene, you have such a way with words!

And you are correct. As writers, each stage is new to us the first time through, but then we find a rhythm and wonder what held us back initially.

Viveka said...

You're a born writer - the way you use the words .. and make so understand. Good luck to you all with your writing.
And don't dare stop writing.

Cindy Dwyer said...

Thank you, Viveka! I appreciate your encouragement and kind words.