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by Patricia Fry

Promote Your Book
Doing What You Love Most-Writing!

What does the author of one book have in common with someone who has published twenty-two? They both want readers. They want to sell their books and lots of them.

I'm the author of ten self-published and traditionally published books. Like most other authors, I'm also the marketing manager for these books and I take my job seriously. Why? The more books I sell the more easily I can justify the time I spend writing. And, the more books I ship out, the more room I have for new titles.

My marketing plan for each of my books is multi-faceted. But my favorite promotional activity is writing articles for national magazines. Think about it, you can reach thousands of people through one article. If that article is reprinted in several magazines, your audience can reach into the millions. And, unlike most promotional material, an article is read-that is, unless it reads like an advertisement.

While editors love publishing articles by authors, they don't love articles that come across sounding like commercials.

Avoid Making a Sales Pitch

Magazine editors want their readers to take something away with them-useful information, a new idea, a different perspective or a good feeling. Concentrate on achieving one or all of these things when pitching your article.

How will you sell books if you don't tell readers about it? By demonstrating the value of your book. Instead of telling the reader how beneficial your book might be to them, illustrate this point through the information you share.

If your book features the history of scooters in America, write an entertaining and informative article about the evolution of scooters, famous people who rode scooters as children or a service piece featuring scooter safety tips for children. Anyone interested in these topics would probably buy your book.

The Book Excerpt

Many popular magazines use book excerpts. Of course, they generally want excerpts from books that relate to their magazine-cooking magazines want excerpts from cookbooks, a travel magazine will quote travel books and a poetry magazines wants to excerpt poetry books.

What's an excerpt? A chapter or sections extracted from your book. Use your imagination to come up with some possibilities. If your book features Native American art, for example, a California history or travel magazine might be interested in publishing your chapter on California tribes. An excerpt from a book on tax tips for home-based businesses might provide a good article for a writer's magazine. A retirement or senior magazine editor would most certainly welcome an excerpt from a book featuring Elder Hostel travel stories.

You, The Expert

Once you've written a book, you become known as an expert. The instant my book, Creative Grandparenting Across the Miles was published, I was considered an expert on grandparenting issues. Because of this, I've easily sold articles featuring how to be a better grandparent in the millennium, how to bond with your new grandbaby, how grandparents can uphold the family traditions and travel tips for grandparents traveling with their grandchildren.

I'm also frequently asked to participate in interviews for articles by other journalists on this topic and those related to my other books.

Make the Stretch

Submit articles on topics only remotely related to your book and still promote it. I've sold articles on storytelling techniques for grandparents, how to teach grandchildren money awareness and great gifts for grandkids. But I can also plug my grandparenting book if I'm writing an article about snails, caregiving, empty nest syndrome or scrapbooking.

For the snail piece, I might mention that when I was writing Creative Grandparenting Across the Miles, I met a grandfather who paid his 5-year-old grandson a penny-a-piece to catch his garden snails in a bucket. Likewise, I could draw a relating story from the book to use in articles about caregiving and empty nest syndrome. For the scrapbook article, I could suggest that scrapbooking is a great way for grandparents and grandchildren to bond and then, of course, I'd introduce my book.

Almost all editors add a tagline after your article. This typically includes a brief bio. So even if your book is on iguanas and your article features flower arranging, you can include a tagline at the end of your article that mentions your book. You might say, "Karen Simpson is a freelance writer living in Chicago and the author of The Scaly World of Iguanas (ABC Publishing, 1998). Ordering number, 123-456-7890. Your Great Ideas

Article ideas related to your book will come easy at first. Here are some suggestions to keep the flow of ideas coming:

  • List topics related to your book. If your book features healing and therapeutic gardening, for example, you could conceivably write articles on healing, meditation and therapeutic gardens and gardening; tips for attracting butterflies and other critters and creatures; wheelchair gardening; how to build a simple water feature and so forth.
  • Brainstorm with friends, family and colleagues. More heads generate more ideas.
  • Do something newsworthy and then write about it. Start a gardening club, head up a community garden for the homeless, appear on a television garden show or teach classes on some aspect of gardening.
  • Study a variety of magazines from cover to cover. Look at the articles, ads and even the letters to the editor. Not only will you better understand the article requirements of that particular magazine, you'll find more article ideas.The copy in a retirement magazine might prompt you to pitch them about a piece featuring the latest in ergonomic gardening tools, for example. While looking through a family magazine, you might be inspired to write an article about children's gardens.

Writing for magazines not only satisfies that urge all writers have to write, it's also an excellent way to gain exposure for your self-published or traditionally published books and, hopefully, to make some sales.

Patricia Fry is a full-time freelance writer and the author of A Writer’s Guide to Magazine Articles for Book Promotion and Profit (Matilija Press, 2000).

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