by Patricia Fry
How Many Reviews Should You Do?
Have you ever stopped to count the different methods you use for promoting your book? What number do you think is adequate? A dozen? Twenty-five? One hundred?
If you are selling thousands of copies each month through just one promotional activity which you repeat over and over and over again, and you are happy with that result, then, for you, one may be enough. And if you are pursuing dozens of promotional ideas and selling only a book here and there; now and then, perhaps, it isn’t the number of activities you’re engaged in that is important. Maybe this is the wrong sort of promotion for your particular book or you aren’t going about the activity in a way that will compliment your book sales.
Every year, I meet authors at both ends and all throughout the middle of this spectrum. The thing is, we each have comfort levels when it comes to book promotion. Some of us love to get out and talk to people—give presentations, set up booths at public events, do radio interviews, network in large groups and even sell our books door-to-door at households and businesses, for example. Others prefer staying in the background while spreading the word about their books via press releases, articles and through online forums. And then there are the creative types who run contests in order to get their books noticed, start complex projects to bring attention to their books, create games and puzzles for potential customers and/or build elaborate, interactive websites for promoting their books.
Do you see yourself somewhere among these authors? Where do you fit in when it comes to promoting your book? And what are the results? Are you selling enough books to suit you? Would you like to be selling more? And here’s the hard question, what are you willing to do in order to increase your book sales? Hopefully, you are aware that if you are not selling the number of books you dream of, it is not the fault of your “self-publishing” company, your traditional royalty publisher, the guy you hired to do the cover design, the bookstore manager in town, the magazine editor who won’t review your book, the website owner who won’t post your book or your cat, who strategically placed an ooey gooey furball on a book you left out on the coffee table overnight.
Then who can you blame? Don’t blame anyone—just get out there and start putting forth more effort in the right direction. Here are a few low and no cost ideas for you to consider. I suggest that you choose those that would put your book before your target audience. This may seem elementary, but it is something we need to consider. We are inclined to stay within our comfort zones for the sake of—well, our comfort. So it’s easy to say, for example, “I’ll email all of my friends and pitch my book on how to prepare to earn a degree in psychology,” when your audience is actually people you don’t know—people who are considering a career in psychology. If you’re not marketing to your audience, you might as well not market at all. Here are some ideas to help you jumpstart your book sales:
• Set up your own blog site related to the topic or genre of your book and post often.
• Ask to be interviewed or to be a guest blogger at popular blog sites related to your topic. Locate blogs on your topic by signing up for Google Alerts. You will receive daily announcements about blog posts on the topic of your book. http://www.google.com/alerts.
• Do home parties. Either give demonstrations related to your book topic or speak about your nonfiction topic. Here are a couple of creative ideas: Provide costumes and props and engage guests in acting out a scene from your novel. Create a lovely, peaceful, relaxing atmosphere using soft music and candles and then read passages from your book or poetry. You could even combine this activity with a spa treatment for guests.
• If your book is nonfiction, build a website full of resources related to the theme of your book to attract your target audience.
• We’re entering book festival season—find some close to your home or where you will be vacationing this year, and sign up for booth space. Locate book festivals and book fairs by doing an Internet search for book festivals in your area. Type in keywords, “book festival” or “book fair” and your city name.
• When was the last time your book was publicly reviewed? Are you aware that many magazine and newsletter editors—even some in your topic/genre—publish book reviews? While some of them publish reviews sent in by outside reviewers, others do the book review themselves. According to the Magazine Publishers of America, there are around 20,000 consumer and trade magazines being published in the US and Canada as we speak. Over 400 of them relate to health and fitness, 15 on oceanography, 73 featuring photography, 13 about cats, over 150 on advertising and marketing and166 related to and for children, for example. Add to this, the fact that there are nearly 10,000 newsletters being published on every topic and you can quickly see the possibilities of having your book reviewed over and over and over again. Use Writer’s Market, Literary Marketplace, http://www.writersmarket.com, http://www.woodenhorsepub.com and/or spend time at your local mega-bookstore searching for appropriate magazines.
Promoting a book is probably one of the hardest things you will ever attempt. So take it seriously and make it fun.
Patricia Fry is the Executive Director of SPAWN (Small Publishers, Artists and Writers Network) www.spawn.org and the author of 35 books. See her most recent books in the left column of this page.