Flashback: Promotional Tips (or How to promote your book)

When you see “Flashback” in front of an article, it means it is an article that originally appeared on Word Museum in the beginning before it was sold and then regained by Lori. We have reposted these articles, because we feel they add great value to the site. Where possible we include the date of the original article.

Written By: Pamela S. Thibodeaux
Date: 11/15/2001


I never thought I would be in a position to give advice on promoting your work. However, when my book Tempered Hearts was published (Dec. 2000 Writers Exchange Epublishing Co.) I knew my writing career had taken on a whole new range of duties. I had a choice: Sit back and wait for the sales to trickle in or get out there and pound the pavement and make the sales happen. Not much of a choice considering that, for most new authors, personal sales many times outweigh Publisher’s sales. And, since I was epublished and there was no advance to make the path a little smoother until the royalties started rolling in (do they ever really do this?) I knew I had to do some self promoting.

One newly published author said: “my book has been out a week and no one is buying!” Sorry, but not many of us can have the success author Susan Grant had when her book sold out 3 days BEFORE it hit the shelves. You go girl! And Thank You for sharing your promotional tips! It takes work, no doubt about that. But most of all, it takes time and patience. I know, I know, easier said than done. 🙂

Keep the faith. Sometimes it even takes months to get reviews back! (especially if your epublished) So, what did I do? Research, research, research. There are many articles out there by authors such as Susan Grant that give tips on self promotion. Most everything I learned, I learned from these authors, so I can’t really take the credit for the advice I give to you. But I’ll give it to you anyway. This advice can be incorporated with your own ideas whether you are epublished, self-published or even traditionally published. One thing though, if you are traditionally published you need to start promoting before your book hits the shelves. You usually have up to 1 year or more between contract date and shelf date, use it!

Epublished and self-published authors have it the other way around. Our books are available sooner and have a longer shelf life, but that doesn’t really give us an advantage. Too many people still believe epublished or self published isn’t REALLY published. Anyway, my best advice to you is to contact every bookstore you can. Map out an area say 20 – 50 or even 100 mile radius of your home. Call the book stores and see if the have a “local or regional” author section. Most of them do. Some of them buy a few copies (3-5) of your book from you. Granted, you may not make much profit on these but at least they are sold. And hey, if it takes 2 or 3 months for them to sale it… well, you’ve made your money already. But, if they sale it within a short amount of time, they’ll buy more and restock! Also, most of them are happy to schedule a book signing for you. It may be up to you to advertise this book signing, but so what? Some newspapers and/or radio stations do this as a public service announcement for free! Libraries are another great way to promote your work. Most libraries won’t let you sale your book inside the building, but they will let you talk about it! Talk with the “Friends of the Library” chapter in your hometown if there is one. Also, donate a book to your local library, people love this, it’s good publicity (especially if you get a newspaper to pick up the story) and it’s a good way to give back to your community. Send out press kits to everyone you can think of and/or afford to! These can but don’t necessarily have to include a copy of the book. You can send a summary or 1st 3 ch’s. Always include: press release, bio, business cards, reviews (if you have them). A simple 2-pocket folder with a copy of the cover on front and back and info inside. Easy to make and inexpensive. Postage may add up, but remember it’s all tax deductible!

Have you created book marks yet? They are easy, inexpensive and a great way to promote your book – if you make them yourself. It’s not that hard either. Format your page into 3 columns, insert a picture of your cover, list your publisher, your website and your snail and email address on the front underneath a picture of you. On the back, put a blurb of your book. Be sure to give a short blurb or some other information on your next release (if you know what and when it is) Most book stores will let you put bookmarks out even though they may not carry your book! Be sure and include several in your press kits too!

We all know the power of the Internet. Get out there and list your book every place that will let you. There are many sites designed for the single purpose of listing new authors and new books. Do a web search and promote. But be careful though, you can spend hours every day on the ‘Net and never reach them all! And remember, there are still hundreds or thousands or maybe even millions of people who don’t have a home computer or don’t have the internet! Try and think of ways to reach them. One way to do this is to make up what I call an “envelope flyer”. A small announcement of your book-put it in EVERY envelope you send out of your house! I made these myself using regular white paper. On the front I put the cover of my book, a short blurb and info on where to find it. On the back I put a blurb listing my next release. I got 4 to a page. This idea was given to me by La’Nelle Gambrell author of Healer’s Daughter (iuniverse.com ISBN#0-595-12856-4) when we were paired up for a book signing. Does it work? I don’t know. But, my local B-A-M store bought 3 copies of Tempered Hearts on 3/26/01. When I was there for a book signing on 5/5/01 those three copies were still on the shelf. I began using these envelope flyers during the month of May. I checked with BAM on (or about) 5/25 and they had sold 2 of their copies! Now, granted, this may have absolutely nothing to do with these flyers but then again, who knows?

One more tip: BEFORE you start promoting your book the best thing you can do is figure out how much you want to spend doing it! Sit down with your finances (and your spouse or significant other) and determine your promotional budget. Then figure out which ideas give you the most bang for your bucks! There are as many ways to promote a book as there are bookstores to carry them. Use your imagination. I know you have one….you’re a writer! 🙂

Lori Soard started Word Museum in 1997. She’s a published author and has written thousands of articles over the years for newspapers, magazines and online. She has a PhD in Journalism and lives in Southern Indiana with her husband. They have two grown daughters, both animal lovers their house is always filled with pets.

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