Heidi invited me to guest blog today, and encouraged me to talk about self-promotion. Though I've talked about this subject at length, I think sometimes we manage to scare ourselves into inactivity because of an excess of information. That's why I'm going to pare down my promotion advice in this entry to five things anybody can do. Just five! Anybody! Monkeys! (What? I like monkeys.)
1) Maintain a Web Presence.
There are zillions of online promotion opportunities, and you'll find out about none of them if you don't maintain a web presence. Connect through mailing lists, communities and blogs- and keep a blog of your own. Not only will this give you somewhere to make announcements (My book is out! My book won an award! My book is on fire!) it will give you a home base for readers, booksellers and librarians when you...
2) Give Books Away.
I like free books; my guess is, you like free books, too. So in the course of your regular blogging, give away some books already! Not just your book- make it a habit to give away other people's books, along with yours, and make it easy to win. Yes, you can have haiku contests and scavenger hunts and whatnot, but nothing beats a totally simple post where readers leave a comment, and you randomly choose a winner. We all like to win- and we all come back to a regular fount of awesome free stuff, so be one of those awesome founts.
3) Make sure your indie bookseller gets a copy of your ARC.
Your publishing house may contact your local independent booksellers as a matter of course. Doesn't matter- take a copy of your ARC to your favorite indies anyway and introduce yourself. These businesses serve your community, and they should be your first stop when planning a book launch or signing. Don't leave it to chance that your favorite bookstore will know about your book. Go in, introduce yourself, pony up the ARC.
4) Listen When People Tell You They Want Your Book
Pay attention- book bloggers often post about books they'd like to read, or kinds of books they'd like to read. And yes, it's flattering to see your book! Your title! Your monkey on fire! On a stranger's website, but *tap tap tap* that's an opportunity. If you have lots of ARCs, ask if you can send them one! If you don't have lots of ARCs, finished copies are awesome, too. If you see somebody who loves and talks about books pining for yours - give them one!
5) Invest Yourself in Someone Else's Success
Seriously, we spend so much time scrabbling and scrambling and trying to figure out how to promote ourselves, that we can end up feeling very empty indeed. That's why I encourage debut authors to join groups like Debut 2009 debut2009 or The Tenners 10_ers; that's why I encourage you to find a publishing buddy- or a bunch of publishing buddies. Whether it's one person, or a whole group of people, when you can invest yourself in other people's success, it feels good. It feels good on days when you get bad news; it feels GREAT on days when you get good news. I have often had my happiest experiences in publishing when I had the chance to talk up my friends' books to someone I think will love them. Or thinking up fun ideas *they* can do to promote their book. Or helping them implement those ideas.
There are going to be ups and downs every day- sometimes every hour- as a published writer, and there will always be promotional tasks ahead of you. So invest in your own success- and invest in someone else's. That way, you have something to celebrate every day.
Want more Saundra?
Her fabulous ghostly-awesome novel is available now in bookstores everywhere!