Friday, January 21, 2011

Do I Look Like I Know What I'm Talking About? or My Secrets to Successful Book Promotion

by Meredith Cole

Here’s everything I'm sure know about successful book promotion:

It takes time and/or money. Preferably lots of both.

On my first book, POSED FOR MURDER, I had a little bit of money and a lot of time. I hired a publicist. I went to BEA, ALA, LIM, Malice, Virginia Festival of the Book, Decatur Book Festival, Southern Festival of the Book. I guest blogged. I did radio interviews. I lost track of how many conferences, festivals and events I had been to. I tried to be anywhere and everywhere. Goodreads, Facebook, Myspace. I went a little crazy. My husband can tell you all about it.

Did my book blitz work?

Who knows? But St. Martin’s Minotaur bought my second book, DEAD IN THE WATER, so I must have been doing something right. At least I got a chance to do it all again.

On my second book, I had almost no money and practically no time. I told a friend that I was going to try to be “Zen” about my book promotion. She laughed and said she had no idea what I meant. We were both way too type A to be Zen Masters. But I really didn’t want to go crazy again, so I scaled back a little. I went to Malice, ALA (it was local), BEA (I happened to be in NY), I toured North Carolina with a group of mystery writers, and I went to Bouchercon. I blogged. I guest blogged. I did local events. And I said no when I felt I couldn’t do something.

Interestingly enough, stepping back on the second book taught me that I had a secret weapon at my disposal for both books that cost neither money nor time: guardian angels.

I’m not talking the kind of angels that flap around or wear crowns or sit on clouds. These angels are way subtler and they walk amongst us. I’ve had more than my share touch me on the shoulder and give me help on everything on my marketing journey. Usually they are a way more experienced writer who likes to help out newbies. Occasionally the angel was a reader, or a librarian or a bookseller. Anyway, when you are a new writer, any help at all feels like a huge gift. And I received a lot of gifts. (Thanks y’all – you know who you are…)

So here’s my book promotion strategy in a nutshell:

Find someone smart who is successful. Follow them around (with their permission of course) and ask lots of questions. Steal anything they do that seems like it’s working and is a good fit for you and your book. Try it. Then repeat from step A.

Does it work?

I'll let you know. I guess the best indicator will be on that day when I’ve got a crowd following me around and borrowing my ideas instead of the other way around. Meanwhile, I'll just keep learning the ropes. And giving gifts to other newbies.


Edith Maxwell said...

You have already given the gift of this post to this newbie. Thanks!


Nancy said...

In desperation, I decided to buy a Facebook ad this week. FB makes everything very clear, including exactly how many people are available in the demographic pool you choose. YOu pay by the click-through. What did I have to lose, I thought?

So far, in 5 days? NOT A SINGLE CLICK THROUGH. So.....what the h*ll works these days? I haven't a clue.

Kathleen A. Ryan said...

It's all experience, right? We live and learn ~ and like you're doing in this post, you're so generously sharing information ~ and we, your readers, appreciate it :-)

Kelli Stanley said...

Wonderful post, Meredith!! :) I've been told to try the Zen thing, too, and it just winds up making me irritable. ;)

We are all dependent on the kindness of strangers (to paraphrase Blanche ) ... and if there is one thing I've learned from getting published, it's that there are a lot of angels in the industry. :)

Meredith Cole said...

Thanks Edith and Kathleen for stopping by! I hope the info was helpful. I still feel like I don't know what I'm doing, but I'm starting to learn what works for me.

Meredith Cole said...

I have no idea how the Facebook ads work. I've never tried them (primarily because I always ignore them when I'm on FB--not a good sign). I hope it works for you.

Meredith Cole said...

Thanks Kelli! Glad I'm not the only one who finds Zen promotion difficult... But in order to get help from angels, you sometimes have to relax a little and let things happen (hard for type A's, I know).

All I know is that I am very lucky!

Rebecca Cantrell said...

Guardian angels. I've had a lot of those myself. That's one thing I love about the mystery field. Everyone in it is so darn nice and helpful it's unbelievable.

I still try to do everything I can.

Funny how the time and money go away after that first book, isn't it?

Meredith Cole said...

You should keep doing what you're doing, Becky, 'cause it's clearly working for you!

And I agree with you completely--people in the mystery community are amazingly generous and kind.

Kaye George said...

Don't look behind you, Meredith. I'm following. Thanks for the excellent post.

Meredith Cole said...

Oh, Kaye! I'm so glad you could drop in. I'm so glad you're right behind me--I love hanging out with you!

Gail M Baugniet - Author said...

Thank you for your motivational comments. You've helped another Guppy newbie today ... me.