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Published Article
by Patricia Fry

Book Promotion Opportunities Missed
Are Potential Sales Lost

Promotion is ongoing. Successful and struggling authors know this and hopeful authors are about to find it out. If you dare to relax your promotional efforts, sales will likely diminish. Aggressively implement a new promotions plan and your book could start breaking sales records.

This is a pretty simple concept, yet way too many authors still toy with dangerous assumptions that their books will take off all by itself—that people will buy it just because it exists. Other authors promote their books, but only through familiar channels. I know one author, for example, who had a website designed, who has solicited consignment agreements with several independent bookstores and gift shops in his community and who stops to show his book to booksellers when traveling. That’s it! He doesn’t step outside of his perceived comfort zone and he certainly isn’t open to new promotions ideas that may present themselves.

A colleague of mine recently produced a how-to book for crafters. She sells it mainly through fabric and craft stores, but she refuses to make personal appearances. This author would rather implement her limited promotional plan from behind the scenes. The computer is her means of communication—period.

Neither author is open to new or different promotional opportunities. And they spend little time looking for ways to promote their books.                             

I speak to and write for new and struggling authors and this is what I tell them: “Take off your blinders, open up your mind and seek new promotional opportunities everywhere you go.” Heed this advice and you will be surprised at the ideas that will materialize. 

For example, several weeks ago, we started a new department in SPAWNews, SPAWN’s monthly newsletter. (SPAWN is Small Publishers, Artists and Writers Network). SPAWNews goes out to around 2,000 writers, authors, artists and small publishers. We decided that each month we would feature a member’s website and we put out a call to members. The newsletter editor wrote, “We will showcase YOUR Web site in SPAWNews—for FREE.” And we gave the contact information. No one came forward. NO ONE!! I wondered, don’t our members have websites for their published books and writing/graphics businesses? Aren’t they selling books through their own websites? Unbelievable! I went in search of member sites.

My first stop was the SPAWN Member Directory. While virtually all members are listed there, only a very few of them had a website listed. Could this be? Authors without websites? I began contacting members to ask if they had websites. All of the dozen or so members that I contacted said, “Yes, I have a website and I’d love to have it featured in SPAWNews.”

So why didn’t they come forward to take advantage of this promotional opportunity on their own? Why didn’t they at least make sure that their website was listed in the SPAWN Directory, which is designed as a promotional tool for their books and services? Are they just too busy to handle one more activity? Or are they simply not paying attention?

I began evaluating my own marketing techniques and realized that there are also opportunities that I miss. We stay so busy trying to make a living, keeping up with our contacts, processing (physically and mentally) the enormous volume of materials we receive each day, coming up with new marketing ideas for our books and trying to maintain some order in our personal lives, that we’re overloaded. No wonder we either miss or just don’t get around to pursuing some of the opportunities that are right under our noses.

Lesson learned. I vowed to pay more attention. When I read about a marketing opportunity that takes little time and effort, I’ll drop what I’m doing and take advantage right then. If I hear about a potential market for one of my books, I’ll make a note of it and slip it into a file folder which I promise to open at least once a week.

Here are some ideas to help you become more open and alert to good promotional opportunities:

1:  Subscribe to writing/publishing newsletters and magazines as well as those related to your book topic and read them from cover to cover. (See recommendations below.)

2:  Stop and consider promotional opportunities mentioned in these publications. Could this tactic work for your book?

3:  Read books on book promotion. (See recommendations below.) 

4:  File potential promotional ideas and refer to this file often.

5:  Join networking organizations related to book promotion and to the topic/genre of your book. Participate in their meetings, discussion groups and forums.

6:  Locate other authors with books similar to yours and brainstorm some promotional ideas.

7:  Don’t discount any of promotional ideas until you’ve thought them through and maybe, even, tested them.

8:  Determine which books in your category are selling and find out what those authors/publishers are doing to generate sales.

9:  Implement at least one new promotional idea each week and make at least five contacts related to promotion every day.

10:  Consider all promotion positive promotion. Immediate sales aren’t the only way to measure success. Some promotional efforts afford you little more than an opportunity for exposure—when you donate books to a charity, for example, or sit all day at a book fair with few sales. I’m here to tell you that exposure has value. It is through exposure that many future sales come. Without exposure, you won’t have sales.

Promotional opportunities are everywhere. It is up to you, the author, to become aware of them and to make the time to implement those that are right for your project. An opportunity missed, is definitely sales lost. 


Patricia Fry is the Executive Director of SPAWN (Small Publishers, Artists and Writers Network) and the author of 35 books. See her most recent books in the left column of this page.

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