Thursday, December 13, 2012

5 Days to New Release Day: Bang for your Buck – Choose Wisely

One of the most daunting efforts in preparing for a new release is putting together a PR plan to get your book noticed. If readers don’t know your novel is out there, how are they going to buy it? If you don’t provide them with a map, how are they going to find you?

The first thing I noticed going from print to e-book was that many of the dependable avenues I’d used in the past were no longer available. Romantic Times Booklovers Magazine didn’t include BETRAYED BY SHADOWS in their upcoming release list for Pocket nor did they review my book in their magazine even though it was the 7th in a series. I didn’t get my cover in time to do an independent ad with them. Goodreads didn’t host giveaways, which had always been so successful for my previous titles, unless the book was available in print. I was panicking. How was I going to let readers know this book existed if I couldn’t get the word out there? Shout “Hey, look at me!” while waving madly?

Well . . . yeah.

Working with e-books required a major shift in my PR approach. I’d previously targeted booksellers to get those cartons from the warehouses to their shelves. Instead of board and mortar space, I was now dealing with virtual space. I already had a fairly decent Internet presence on Facebook and had a modestly traveled website and blog. What I needed to do was get potential readers to visit, spread the word and come back. What could I do to say “Hey, look at me!” without flooding my social media sites with hammering messages to “Buy the Book!”?

Visibility and repetition. Those were things I learned in a university course on advertising and publicity. Get in front of their face enough to establish recognition to bond in a positive way. I asked myself what catches my eye? Things that are 1) fun. Things that are 2) free. Things that are 3) different. Things that are . . . because of my ADD . . . 4) shiny!

I’ve always thought of writers and readers as a community. It takes a village. Time to reach out to those neighbors. The way to be a good neighbor is to invite them over first. So, months before I had a book available, I rallied a group of creative friends as support staff and opened the doors to my Haunted Open House. Over 1,500 friends stopped by to enjoy the games, giveaways, and guests and recipes . . . and got a look at my December title.

I needed to reach beyond my small pond. How about getting invited to someone else’s pond? One thing about the Internet, everyone needs content and most are willing to let you stop by in exchange for a few paragraphs and a reciprocal visit. In return, I love helping out other author friends and get tired of coming up with blog ideas myself. Why not put together a quick and sassy 20 Questions Tuesday to introduce my friends to your friends? Win-Win. Fun, and an ever expanding ripple of new potential readers from one pond to the other.

Everyone likes free stuff. That’s something I learned during the big bookmark craze in the ‘80s. Giveaways (that don’t break your promotional bank!) are a great draw. The quickest, easiest way to bring new guests to your blog is to offer something free (I like to give gift cards. Just a one click away!) and the best way to let visitors know what you have to offer is joining a Blog Hop. Minimal time and cost expended, huge returns. I’ve participated in several and my blog, Facebook and Twitter numbers went wild. Did it result in sales? Hard to tell . . . yet. Kinda like that bookmark thing. But they did bring a new crop of potential where there was little before. The trick is to not continually preach to that same choir. And make sure your message is one they’re receptive to.

A twist on the Blog Hop is the Blog Tour. The ultimate “Look at Me!” I’d done several through my publisher that brought a crop of helpful reviews. This time I’m doing something a little different. I’ve got a promotional company doing a tour for me with dedicated stops all under an eye-catching banner. I’m excited to be visiting with a variety of new hosts and reaching out to a wider-audience. Coming up with content for 25 stops in two months . . . 

Click Image for Tour Schedule
Then there’s the “shiny”. As much as I’m wary of technology, I love flash. I love the concept of lagniappe – that extra on the side that I discovered in New Orleans. The exciting thing about promotion to me is doing the extra stuff: offering extra behind the scenes content, Romance Trading Cards, sending goodie packets to conferences, doing book trailers, putting together a research travel diary, character playlists, events like this one, not because they necessarily sell more books . . . but because they’re a fun way to reach out to people who’ll enjoy them.

Tomorrow I’m turning my blog over to the Holiday Gifts of Love Blog Hop (OooooO! Free stuff!). Make sure you stop back over the weekend to meet a special guest who keeps my “Oh, shiny!” going.

What things have you tried as an author? What things appeal to you as a reader?


  1. As a reader i love when an author thinks about including international readers too, i know it can cost be for m eit's also a proof that we count ( after all yes us is a big market but they are english speaker and reader all over the world)
    Now i love free print books ^^ that's my favourite thing with swag ( bookmarks etc becais ei collect them)

    i don't enter a giveaway for a kindle book, i can' t read it ( and the application doesn't work) but i appreciate when the autor offer a pdf as an alternative ( download at smashwords etc) that way i can still feel included. digital book are far from my favorite but i can manage a pdf.

    Now that being say what make me follow an author is more his/her personnality. the way he/she intereact with his/her readers etc.. i can follow an author long before i manage to get one of the books written by said author but if i follow the book is in a priority list ( like yous that i will get one day!!!)

  2. Nancy, you've always been generous in helping other authors. What goes around comes around. See you on my blog in January. :)

  3. I like "meeting" new authors through my favorite authors, there's always someone new out there I haven't tried and have hesitated to purchase; but recommended by a favorite of mine I will be more inclined to try. Also guest authors do have giveaways and tha's another way for me to try their books.

  4. I've found a lot of books from blogs. If it's a favorite author of mine then I'll know about their upcoming books because I make it a point to look it up on their website or goodreads. For a new or new to me author, you're right visibility is so important.