There are wonderful articles on the many ways to promote your books on on-line venues. Connecting on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and author blogs are key marketing strategies. Someday I hope to more efficiently tap into those markets for effective results.
The truth is, with hundreds of thousands of titles being released each year it’s not easy to stand out in the crowd. Another truth is readers like to meet authors face to face.
Here are some things I’ve learned in the last seven years about promoting myself and my books:
Obtain the names, addresses, email addresses, and phone numbers of the libraries and bookstores in your state, or as far away as you are prepared to travel. Send them an attractive brochure with information about yourself and your books. When I did this a few years ago I booked a large number of gigs and met some great people who have been faithful readers of mine ever since.
When you’re going to be at a library or book event, get an article into the local newspaper with all the specifics. Even if people can’t attend, they’ll know you were there and some will later check out your books.
Join a group like the Sisters in Crime or Mystery Writers of America, specific to your genre. When you have a new release, if you provide them with the information, they will print it in their national publications. In addition to the National SinC, I also belong to the Twin Cities Chapter where I’ve been part of a number of mystery panels at libraries. We’ve even been paid a tidy sum at many of them.
Check out the arts and crafts shows, county fairs, or similar events in your area or as far as you are able to travel. Some are cost-prohibitive, others are very reasonable. I attended five this past year, but there are many hundreds in Minnesota I could have gone to. I sell a good number of books at one in particular fair every year. This year it was 45, a very successful five hours in my opinion. People at that venue now seek me out in my booth to see if I have a new book out.
Whatever event I’m at, I have an email sign-up sheet for anyone who is interested. I put a disclaimer on it promising not to spam them. My reader address book has grown to over 400. I haven’t developed any type of formal newsletter, but I send out a letter when I have a new book coming out with the book cover, back cover blurb, review quotes, and other pertinent information, and the places, dates, and times I’ll be for the book signings.
And that brings up the step I take to get the signings in the first place. When I know the book’s release date, I send a letter to the 47 bookstores and libraries I have email addresses for, about two months prior. Allow a good month to get your book launch schedule set. In addition to the signings set in conjunction with the release, I also tell them I’d love to do an event any time in the upcoming year. That offer is geared more toward libraries, but it also keeps the door open for bookstores. They may keep me in mind for some anniversary celebration or other festival they have planned.
Other great places to introduce yourself and your books known are at conventions. The largest international mystery convention is Bouchercon. Other big ones are Left Coast Crime, Malice Domestic, ThrillerFest, and Crime Bake. Getting on the author panels gives you increased recognition and advertisement in the catalog. Also, since five or so different panels on a wide array of writing/publishing subjects are offered almost hourly, it is like taking six or seven classes a day. And the awards banquets are both fun and educational. They cost a fairly large sum of money, so you have to weigh the benefits with your finances.
If I had to sum up my book marketing strategy advice in two words it would be: Develop Relationships. With readers, book store owners, book clubs, librarians, other authors, agents, editors, illustrators, reviewers, and anyone else connected to the writing industry.
What are things you do to market your books?
Christine Husom is the author of the Winnebago County Mysteries. Secret in Whitetail Lake, the sixth in the series, was released in November.