Stefanie Hartman In The Press

Tag Archive | "Book Launch"

How to give a great event

Posted on 05 Oct 2011 | Author Stefanie | Comments No comments | Tags

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Here is the next of the installments I found on book tours, from a company that is closing their doors soon, so I thought I would pass it on to you!  I do really enjoy being at a great event.  In this article Kevin will give you some tips and pay attention to how to jazz up your event and create a unique and engaging experience for the attendee.

Here’s some of my Golden Rules for speakers:

  1. Make eye contact with audience and keep your focus on them.  You want them to connect with you not “watch” you.
  2. Make sure you have good posture and your stance is strong.  Feet should be almost shoulder width apart.
  3. Get excited about what you are speaking about.  Energy is contagious.
  4. Adjust your volume and tone throughout the presentation to keep them awake.
  5. Remember it is all about them – not you, so relax and have fun.
  6. Get them involved and participating.  Take the pressure and work off of you by getting your audience involved.  Both parties will have more fun.
  7. Remember mistakes are learning experiences.
  8. Don’t try to rush trough a ton of points.  It is better if you teach less but more clearly and more interactive way.  And if you forget a few things – don’t stress about it as no-one will know.
  9. Record the event to sell later, to put snippets on your website, or just to watch yourself and to improve your performance.
  10. Record video testimonials from students during break.
  11. Speak with power and compassion.
  12. Pass out freebies or goodies.

There is an exercise at the bottom for you of this article for you.   Enjoy.

All the best,

How to Give a Great Event

Last time, we discussed the logistics and bigger questions of setting out on your book tour. We called it “the fun part” of our series and probably jumped the gun. Planning your own book tour may indeed bring you joy (particularly if you  the sort who enjoys the challenge of say, finding an hotel vacancy during Thanksgiving weekend), but most likely, you feel like planning is the responsible, adult part of anything (including book tours) you must trudge through before getting to the fun.

Fair enough. Trudge you have. Now we’re at the fun.

You’ve mapped out a block of time you’re going to spend promoting your book. You’ve got a handful of events of varying colors and shapes on your calendar. Wowee. On that date in the not-so-distant future, a group of people will be gathered to hear you, the author, talk about your book.

Neat huh? And unless you’re hammier than Little Richard, kinda scary. You already wrote the book. Now you gotta sing and dance about it too?

Today we’re going to talk about doubling down on the “neat” and minimizing the scary. We’ll do that by looking at the lifecycle of the typical book event and how to push yours it towards awesome at each step.

Ready? Let’s go on tour.

Step 1: Getting People There.

Few of us are The Reverend Billy Graham where the promise of us talking draws a screaming crowd. So you’ll have to do a little hustle to get folks to show up at your book event. And while I encourage any writer with a tour date coming up to list it in community calendars, local newspapers, on BookTour etc. the truth is it won’t matter all that much. Because unless you live on an ice floe, your event is competing against every other choice a possible attendee has for that evening—going to the movies, dining out or just staying at home with a book. Given those options “Look honey! A writer I’ve never heard of reading from a book I’ve never heard of,” rarely wins out.

It’s wise then to plan events that have their own marketing muscle or a built in audience. A bookstore with a strong events program will have an active mailing list and a crowd that shows up just because they trust the store’s taste. Find out which ones those are by attending a few events on off-nights (Monday, in January or when it’s raining) and see how many show up. I also encourage writers to plan non-bookstore events at places that both match the readership of their book and are also where those potential readers already spend their time. Workplaces, conferences, interest group meetings, houses of worship. Put simpler, if you’ve written a novel about beekeepers, should you be holding events at just a bookstore or a bookstore and the local apiarist society?

You’ll still be expected to bring your own crowd. And that means asking friends and family with a firm but sparing hand to help you “fill the room” and buy books. It will only help if the venue has its own crowd already.

Step 2: What should your event look like?

The standard book event goes like this:

  • Author is introduced
  • Author says a few words about their book then reads a few passages.
  • Author answers questions and autographs newly purchased copies.

It’s an old formula but a serviceable one. It just isn’t that exciting for the people who came to see you.

What can you do to jazz up your event? Go back to what sets your book apart from others like it. Then use those differences to create a memorable evening for your audience. Any book about food is remiss not having food at their events. Same with any book about music, movies or any feature which most people enjoy on its face. A travel book event should have photos and slides. Poetry should be read aloud or performed dramatically. An event for a biography should have juicy gossip about its subject and perhaps costumes or giveaways.

The common thread here is playing to the essential uniqueness of the book by creating a unique experience. What makes your book special and how can you make that the backbone of a special evening? Fundamentally, that’s why audience is there. They can find out about your book’s existence in a hundred different ways, most without leaving the house. By asking them to leave the house you are promising them something more than information. You are promising them an evening out.

Step 3: Iron clad rules for a good event.

Every successful book event abides by the following rules.

  • Be brief: Assume anyone who comes to your event leads a busy active life. You are asking for an hour of it, which is asking a lot. You show the most respect for your audience by keeping your event short, sweet and leaving them wanting to know more about your book. 30 minutes is ideal, 60 is the absolute maximum. Beyond an hour and your audience just switched from thinking about your book to dinner, money left in their parking meter, the uncomfortable chair they are sitting in. You make whoever invited you angry because a restless audience means fewer book sales. Worse of all, you come across as arrogant and rude, as if nothing in the life of your audience could be more important than hearing about your book.

Asking for your reader’s time is a sacred covenant. Treat it with the utmost respect.

  • Be clear: You are the evening’s entertainment and nobody leaves home to listen to mumble. Speak and read how you would like to be spoken to, with clarity, conviction and pizzazz. Make eye contact. Every passage you read should have a beginning, middle and end. State at the top of the event what the structure of the evening will be and stick to it. Address every question asked with respect and thoughtfulness.
  • Be willing: Everyone hosting or attending your event is doing you a favor. The answer to anything they ask short of organ donation is “yes.” Yes, you can show up a bit early, yes you will sign autographs afterward, yes someone can have their picture taken with you, and yes you will chat with staff. You do it and say thank you. Each one of these seeming inconveniences is an expression of their deepening interest in you and your book. And each one increases the chances of them inviting you back, recommending your book to someone else or telling their colleagues what a nice person you are.

Anyone who arranges book events has a tough job. If you make it harder, they will hold it against you and your book. Make it a pleasure and it will pay off for a long time after you’ve gone home.

  • Be grateful. Book promotion, even touring is hard, tiring work. You will feel crabby and uncomfortable. You will say to yourself at least once a day “this isn’t why I became an author.” And invariably when someone at one of your events asked “How is your tour going?” you may feel the need to vent a little. About how tired you are, about how awkward promotion feels and about how you can’t wait to “get back to your writing.”

Don’t. There are few bigger turnoffs to an audience than an author complaining about being an author. For many sitting there, you are living their dream. For nearly all, going on a book tour seems impossibly glamorous. Complaining about it makes you look like a spoiled brat. No one wants to support the literary efforts of a spoiled brat.

  • Be quick on your feet. It’s hard not to get flustered at poorly-attended event. Or one where the staff did a half-rate job. Again, you may be tempted to complain to someone, or at least mutter to the three people who came about the injustice of it all.

Again, don’t. You’ll make whoever came uncomfortable. Instead, see it as an opportunity. Sit down with your small crowd and chat it up. Ask them about why they came, what they like to read. Be the interesting, thoughtful, warm person you are. If they are came, offer to buy them a drink at the nearby bar.

Step 4: Remember why you do this at all.

Fundamentally, every book event is about forming deep connections and relationships between you, your book and its advocates. Ideally the event is both an hour well-spent and an appetizer-sized bite of your book and its wonders. Moreover an event is the living manifestation what you want for your book and its readers—reflecting exactly the type of energy put into it. If you and your events embody these emotions—communalism, warmth, possibility, fun—your new readers will feel the same towards you and your book.

Homework: Imagine then write down what your most successful event will look like.  launched a ten-part series on Book Promotion called “Everything you Wanted to Know about Book Promotion but were Afraid to Ask” written by CEO Kevin Smokler. Kevin has been advising authors and publishers on marketing and promotion for nearly a decade and has written and lectured on the topic throughout North America.

Popularity: 1% [?]

Giving a Great Interview

Posted on 26 Sep 2011 | Author Stefanie | Comments 1 comment | Tags

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Here is the seventh great installment I found on book tours, from a company that is closing their doors soon, so I thought I would pass it on to you guys! Kevin gives 5 great tips for giving a great interview and another resource for you to pick up is a complimentary report I wrote on How to Get Booked as a Guest on TV and Radio  Enjoy.

All the best,
Giving a Great Interview

We’re in the promotion part of our series and with any luck, your book will attract the interest of someone who’d like to interview you. That person may appear on national television, radio or in a prestigious magazine (hooray!), but it’s just as significant if they work for a local paper, an interested blog or run their own podcast show. All book promotion must begin somewhere, and small media can often be stepping stones to greater attention.

So how do you give a good interview when the opportunity arises? And by “good interview” I mean one that succeeds in three ways: 1) a strong representation of what your book is about and why a potential reader would be interested in reading it, 2) compelling programming or coverage for the person interviewing you, and 3) evidence that your book is gaining momentum in the marketplace. A successful interview can have two of three. It cannot have less than that.

All participants in an interview have clear motives. The author wants to get notice for their book and the interviewer wants to create a compelling experience for their audience. The audience wants that compelling experience and to find out about good books. Despite that built-in self interest, every successful interview (meaning successful for everyone involved) is a conversation with give and take at its core. If an interviewer is only out to titillate their audience, you get shock journalism and shrill talk radio. If an author will not budge from answering each question with “as I said in my book,” that author is a parrot, not a creator, and readers don’t buy books by parrots. If an interview seems so private and insular that the audience feels left out, they will ignore the book being discussed because the interviewer and author are doing the same to them.

In each case, somebody loses. Somebody losing is usually bad for your book. Do not be the accomplice to any of them.

What are your responsibilities, then, as the author? Let’s look at them within the framework of a successful interview.

1. Do your homework. A good interview quickly speeds past the built-in artificiality of the situation and becomes about conversation. For this to happen, you want as few surprises as possible. So between when the interview is scheduled and when it happens, get everything cleared up and leave nothing to chance. How long will the interview run? Will it be live or taped? Research old interviews by that journalist. Are they friendly and chatty or aggressive and demanding? The more ready you are, the more the interview will be about your book instead of what you didn’t know about the person and media outlet interviewing you.

On the day off your interview, clear as much time as you’ll feel comfortable with on either end. You NEVER want to arrive late to an interview (it’s says you don’t respect the interviewer’s time) and you don’t want to cut a great conversation short because you have to pick your kids up at school.

2. Answer short. Stay on point. All interviews have their natural limitations: Article length, airtime, life’s other obligations. Which means that no matter how engaging the conversation is, your primary job as the author to answer the questions quickly and accurately. We’ve discussed it before in our series, but rambling answers that don’t hang together make you the author look like a cluttered, disorganized thinker. And sadly, it makes potential readers think the same of your book—and they haven’t even picked it up yet.

If you have trouble answering questions succinctly, practice. Have a friend or family member ask you mock questions and time your answers. Aim for twenty to thirty seconds, one minute at the absolute most. You can expound a bit more if the interview is for a print or online publication or is recorded instead of live. In those situations, the interviewer can edit your answers to a reasonable length. For a live interview, if you don’t answer succinctly, the interviewer will simply cut you off. Then you simultaneously look like a motormouth and haven’t said much of anything.

“Short” does not mean incomplete or shifty. Answer the question you are asked. But answering in a manner that is both true to your book and compelling to the audience is an art that requires practice. Make sure, before you are asked to be interviewed, you know what and can repeat what a great interview sounds like.

(Sidenote: Listening to the NPR show Fresh Air is great practice. The actual conversation on Fresh Air can be several hours, but is edited down to sixty minutes for air. Host Terry Gross and her producers are so skilled at crafting great interviews that authors almost always answer in compelling little chunks of speech without sounding rehearsed or parroty. Practice answering like this.)

3. Maintain your dignity. Sadly, you may have an interviewer who is rude, pushy, or simply out to make you look stupid for entertainment’s sake. The worst thing you can do in this situation is play their game. Getting flustered or outraged, saying, “How dare you?”  is exactly what an offensive question is after. And by giving in to the obnoxious person asking it, you’re no longer an author with a book worth reading. You are a chump who has taken the bait.

No author ever lost points by maintaining their composure and dignity. “I’m afraid I don’t agree” works in almost every uncomfortable situation “I’ve already answered that question. Let’s move on,” does, too. But don’t be a stiff. If the interviewer is playing around, teasing, or clearly bears no hostility, it’s best to play along and demonstrate you have a sense of humor.

All of this can be determined by doing your homework (see point #1).

4. No interview too small. Unless your first four interviews are The Today Show, Charlie Rose, The Colbert Report and The New York Times, you cannot afford to turn an interview down because it seems too “small time” for you and your book. Book promotion is all about momentum and persistence, and the bathtub will not fill up if you don’t keep the water running. So if Nameless wants to interview you and it’s thirty minutes of your time on the phone on Tuesday morning, say yes. An author eager to talk about their book will almost always get more readers than an author snotty about with whom they will talk about their book.

One exception: If a media outlet seems to be asking for something outrageous (“Dear author, “Can you guest write a 3,000 word essay for my blog that fifteen people read?”), say no, politely, and renegotiate (“I’d be happy to be interviewed, guest post a 500 word essay, etc.”)

5. Always follow-up. After your interview is complete, email the interview and whomever approached you initially and thank them for the opportunity to speak with them. A handwritten note is even better, if you’ve got the time and nice stationary. It’s also fine to ask when your interview will run and important to make mention of it on your website and social media platforms. Whoever interviewed you will appreciate the traffic you send their way. Also, interviewers are journalists on deadline with space to fill. If they know you a) are a good interview and b) are a pleasant person to work with, they will very likely call on you again when a story of theirs merits it.

It is tempting but usually not ok to ask to see a transcript of the interview before it runs. Many media outlets have a policy against such things (the argument is that it leads to pre-publication censorship, which I do not dispute), and the ones that don’t will almost always reserve the right to not make changes you request. The social contract you enter into when being interviewed states that what you say is “on the record” unless you say otherwise.

Remember, the interviewer has a job to do, too. If you allow them to participate with you in a compelling conversation, it creates a compelling experience for the audience. This, in turn, heightens interest in the minds of your potential readers.

An old advertising adage says: “Nothing reveals a bad product faster than a good ad” I’d add “Nothing kills a good book faster than a boring conversation about it.” In a good conversation, like a good read, everybody wins.

Exercise: Listen to NPR’s Fresh Air and practice how you would answer Terry Gross’s questions about your book.  launched a ten-part series on Book Promotion called “Everything you Wanted to Know about Book Promotion but were Afraid to Ask” written by CEO Kevin Smokler. Kevin has been advising authors and publishers on marketing and promotion for nearly a decade and has written and lectured on the topic throughout North America.

Popularity: 2% [?]

Writing the Perfect Pitch

Posted on 22 Sep 2011 | Author Stefanie | Comments 1 comment | Tags

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Here is the sixth great installment I found on book tours, from a company that is closing their doors soon, so I thought I would pass it on to you guys! When I put up the first installment there was some great comments including that it could be harder to write how you introduce your book than writing the book itself.

In this installment Kevin breaks down the pitch for you, I like that he includes a sample of a pitch and breaks it down for you. There is an exercise at the bottom for you and when doing this list remember the tip for media I mentioned in the fourth installment.   Enjoy.

All the best,
Writing the Perfect Pitch

Last week, we went over how you the author will want to feel and act on the day your book is published. Which means that the theoretical part of “How do I promote my book?” is over. Your book has been born. It’s time to take it out into the world and show it around.

The remainder of our series will focus on how to do that. Coming up, we’ll look at how best to use technology and social media, how to give a great interview and how to hold a great book event.

We’ll start today with writing a great pitch.

What is a pitch?

A pitch is a written, formalized way of informing someone you probably don’t know about your book in the hopes of attracting their interest and further action. A pitch to a newspaper/journalist/radio producer is, “This is my book. Perhaps you’d be interested in covering it?” A pitch to a venue (bookstore, library) is, “This is my book. Perhaps you’d be interested in having me, the author, come give a talk?” If your book promotion process is akin to throwing a party, the pitch is the invitation.

But it’s a little more complicated than that. You’re sending out an invitation to someone you’ve never met before who probably has other invitations just like yours. Their space/time/availability for your book, or anyone’s, is, by nature, scarce and limited. That’s why every author wants it.

Knowing that, you need your pitch to do three things: 1) present your book in a compelling manner, 2) demonstrate how your book is both compelling and useful to whomever you’re pitching, and 3) not waste their time.

Whom to pitch:

Last week we talked about beginning your promotional efforts with people you know, then moving outward to small and local media. The same holds true when coming up with a pitch list. Focus first on low fruit and trees that are close by. Our PressFinder tool is a great way to find contact information for members of the media based in your area.

Sample pitch:

Here’s a sample email pitch I’ve cooked up. I’ve borrowed the sample summary from the first installment in our series. I’ve called myself “Jack Mulligan” for reasons I don’t understand.
To: “Helen Joseph” (
From: “Jack Mulligan” (
Subject: Pitch regarding your “Mariners Maniacs” series. A novel about Gaylord Perry.
Dear Ms. Joseph,

My name is Jack Mulligan and I’m a novelist based here in Seattle. I’ve been following your series on KUOW Radio about Mariners baseball fans, and thought my debut novel, Ghosts of Gaylord Perry, might be of interest to you.

Ghosts of Gaylord Perry is a mystery novel about a detective named Sally Ann framed for murder when her dog Woof Woof finds the body of her boyfriend, a Seattle Mariners shortstop and the nephew of Mariner Hall of Famer Gaylord Perry, on her front lawn. As Sally attempts to clear her name through an investigation of her own, evidence mounts that the perpetrator might have been the victim’s uncle, the Mariners’ greatest pitcher, who happened to be in town giving a lecture on the art of spitball the weekend of the murder.

I self-published my novel last month. Much of my research came out of my volunteer work as historian of the Seattle Mariners Fan Club. I’ve been writing articles on baseball and baseball history for a variety of small publications since 1995.

I heard on your last broadcast that your Mariners Series will be continuing until December. I’ve enclosed a copy of Ghosts of Gaylord Perry for your enjoyment and in the hopes that you may find it useful for your series.

Keep up the great work.

Jack Mulligan

Anatomy of a pitch:

Let’s break this pitch down and see why it works.

First, it is short. Three paragraphs, two hundred words, and gets right to the point. Ms. Joseph is no doubt a busy journalist and there are an awful lot of Seattle Mariners fans (not to mention authors) who would like her attention. Wasting her time will move us right to the back of the line and probably out the door. Which is why the subject line contains the word “Pitch,” what the pitch is for (“Mariners Maniacs series”) and what is being pitched (“novel about Gaylord Perry”). Ms. Joseph knows exactly what this email contains before she even opens it.

(Side note: Most pitches come through email these days. Pitching via written note or fax, unless specifically requested, makes you look like a fuddy duddy).

Now let’s look a piece at a time

My name is Jack Mulligan and I’m a novelist based here in Seattle. I’ve been following your series on KUOW Radio about Mariners baseball fans, and thought my debut novel, Ghosts of Gaylord Perry, might be of interest to you.

First paragraphs are all about who you are and why you are contacting them. Think of it like ringing someone’s doorbell. Get to why you are standing there immediately. Beginning with “My name is” is nice because it speaks of honesty and directness. And since you’re pitching a book, better mention that early on, too, and don’t forget the title.

The most important line here, though, is “following your series on KUOW.” A successful pitch is always tailored to the specific needs of whom you are pitching. Saying, “I listen to KUOW. Your radio station should cover my book” says, 1) I couldn’t be bothered to do the research and find out where my book belongs in your radio programming, and 2) because I’m not being specific, I sound dishonest when I say, “I listen to KUOW.”

Avoid seeming dishonest and lazy. Read/listen/watch whomever you are pitching. See what kinds of books they cover and how. Then craft your pitch to their needs.

Ghosts of Gaylord Perry is a mystery novel, etc…

Refer back to Part I of our series and how to describe your book in a single sentence. Every line should drive the plot forward yet leave a bit to the imagination. Avoid the temptation to over-explain. I know you think everything in your book is gold. It very well may be, but excessive details say to the Helen Josephs of the world that you can’t keep your thoughts straight and therefore probably aren’t worth paying attention to as an author either.

I self-published my novel last month. Much of my research came out of my volunteer work as historian of the Seattle Mariners Fan Club. I’ve been writing articles on baseball and baseball history for a variety of small publications since 1995.

Most likely, neither media nor venues will want to feature a book that’s more than a year old. Explaining how long it’s been in the marketplace is just you 1) being helpful and 2) saying its publication is topical and therefore relevant. Stating your qualifications in a line or two clarifies that you’re versed in what your book contains and Ms. Joseph won’t waste her time featuring a novel about the Mariners from someone who doesn’t know anything about the Mariners.

I heard on your last broadcast that your Mariners Series will be continuing until December. I’ve enclosed a copy of Ghosts of Gaylord Perry for your enjoyment and in the hopes that you may find it useful for your series.

Say what you want, say it quickly, show how it’s useful to them, then leave it alone. Don’t beg. Don’t brownnose. Be a courteous, polished professional. Because, should they say yes, you’d like them to cover your book in the same way, right?

Is a pitch a press release?

A press release is a cousin of the pitch. It makes a more general announcement about the arrival of a book meant to fit a variety of media outlets instead of one specifically.

Press releases for books are usually only effective when the book is written by a well-known person whose actions are newsworthy. For our purposes, a few targeted watering attempts will bear more flowers than seeding the clouds for downpour.

What if I have a publicist?

Let them do the pitching. Here’s why.  That publicist is a paid professional. Their job is to develop ongoing relationships with members of the media, relationships meant to benefit the books they represent, like yours. As the author, you and your work are the beneficiary of their experience.

Let them do their job. Going behind your publicist’s back and contacting members of the media is like dining at a restaurant then walking into the kitchen to make your own dessert. Why have a publicist if you’re just going to do their work for them?

Publicist are paid professionals for a reason. Let them do their job. Work with them, not around them.

Different for venues:

The formula for pitching a venue to do an event follows many of the same rules but not all. You want to research what kind of events that venue hosts, any openings in their upcoming calendar and suggest what your program will be. Again, tailor these to the needs of the venue. Don’t suggest an hour’s worth of reading if the venue only schedules authors for twenty-minute blocks.

How is it different? A venue has both time and space to fill. A media outlet just has space. So if a venue puts on an ill-planned, poorly organized event, it not only costs them money (because they had to be open, have the lights on and pay employees during the event) but may cost them future customers (who come to the lousy event and vow never to return). If a media outlet covers a book that a reader doesn’t end up liking, the reader will probably blame the author more than they will blame the media who covered the author.

All of which means, it is absolutely imperative that you do not only do thorough research on the venue itself but tailor your event to what that venue typically features in a visiting author.

We’ll be talking more about planning the perfect event later in our series but for now…

Exercise: Put together a list of six to ten members of the local media or nearby venues you think would be good matches for your book. Use PressFinder for suggestions. Then create a sample pitch letter. launched a ten-part series on Book Promotion called “Everything you Wanted to Know about Book Promotion but were Afraid to Ask” written by CEO Kevin Smokler. Kevin has been advising authors and publishers on marketing and promotion for nearly a decade and has written and lectured on the topic throughout North America.

Popularity: 2% [?]

On Publication Day, Feel Big, Start Small

Posted on 20 Sep 2011 | Author Stefanie | Comments No comments | Tags

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Here is the fifth great installment I found on book tours, from a company that is closing their doors soon, so I thought I would pass it on to you guys! I like the title Kevin used for this blog post he wrote – ‘Feel Big and Start Small’  He is right creating a book is a huge accomplishment.  This article Kevin wrote is about starting locally and he gears these articles to a published hardcover or paperback book, but don’t forget that in this day and age your publishing day can actually be for a physical book or it may be an eBook.

I’m all for a physical published book, but I also know that sometimes you may want to start smaller and begin with an eBook format, it’s a great way to show a prospective publisher how well your book is doing.  But either way you go the most important aspect is the campaign you create behind the book.  There is an exercise at the bottom for you.   Enjoy.

All the best,
Book Promotion: On Publication Day, Feel Big, Start Small.

So far in our series, we’ve discussed everything you want in your knapsack before beginning the adventure of promoting your new book. You have the tools now–how to summarize your book in a sentence, how to start building groups of allies and supporters. Your vision is optimized as that of a thoughtful, grateful, organized author, available and ready for the challenge.

The challenge is here. It’s the day your book is published. Perhaps it’s now on the shelves at the nearest bookstore or library. Perhaps you’ve self-published and a few boxes of your masterpiece are waiting in your den, ready for the world to meet them. Either way, the theoretical part of our trip is over. Now it’s time to put feet to pavement and go.

Feel Big, Start Small.

Get happy and feel big about it. Publishing a book is a huge task and you did it. Celebrate. Take pictures of yourself with your book and email those photos to everyone. Take the day off and eat a lot of chocolate. Dance in wide circles. You’re an author now. Embrace it. For about 48 hours.

Now let’s get to work.

Your first inclination on Pub Day may be. “Here is my book and the world needs to know about it now! Where’s Oprah’s number?” You’re proud, you feel unstoppable. You want your book to soar, even though its just peeked its head out of the egg.

A natural instinct but an incorrect one. Writers fortunate enough to have a publicist working on their behalf can count on that publicist to submit their book to the largest and sexiest media outlets. No matter what the odds, it’s their job to aim that high.

It is not yours. As an author working on your own behalf, mailing review copies to those places and hoping for a miracle is as long a shot as it sounds. It’s the equivalent of taking a $500 savings bond and reinvesting in lottery tickets. And lottery tickets are a demoralizing pipe dream you can ill-afford.

But but but Oprah? Jon Stewart? The New York Times?

Let me tell you something about all of those places.

  • The overwhelming majority of books covered on major national media come from major national publishers. Unfair but true. There are lots of reasons for this (pre-established relationships, geographic proximity) and exactly none of them are going away. So think long and hard: Is it a good use of your time to make 15 phone calls to Charlie Rose’s producer when Charlie Rose doesn’t pay attention to your kind of book anyway?
    Major national media outlets are usually the culmination not the beginning of a sustained promotional effort.
  • The New York Times does not typically “discover” new books. Rather they test the winds, see what smaller media (like local radio, blogs, regional newspapers) are already discussing and from that determine which books have momentum that merits greater coverage. Often they pick up on books already creating their own attention. So aiming that big at first is like trying to do the long jump from a dead stop. You need to generate your own momentum first.
  • The number of major media outlets that actually make a difference when it comes to book sales are shrinking. By the day. So it’s not only a longshot. It’s a longshot whose bullseye is getting smaller.

You are one person with one person’s time and energy. No promotional effort is perfect (there will be, as with anything, wasted time), but you want yours to be as efficient as possible. So just as you begin a meal by what’s in the pantry instead of flying the salad in from Shanghai…

When beginning book promotion, think small and local first.

Remember your list of allies from Part II? Get that out now. You should have already been touch with these folks and asked them how they can help, either by buying a book, recommending it or asking you to speak to their church group, guest post on their blog etc. If you’ve already done this, now is the time to send out a reminder. Be succinct, excited and appreciative. These are people that love you and wish to help your book out. If they don’t know how, give them small, specific instructions. “Can I speak to your book club” not “can you help me?”

If they are unwilling and jerky about it, find new friends.

Think of this initial batch of opportunities as building blocks. Had a great event at your kids school? Ask whomever invited you for the name of another school across town who’d want to the same. Friends read your book and love it? Ask her to buy another and give it as a gift. Don’t worry about rejection. You have a book to promote. Worry about not sounding grateful for the opportunity to do again what everybody loved the first time.

Opportunity multiplies itself and word gets around. Do a few great events, interviews. Knock their socks off at a book club or in blog posts and people will want more. A solid hour of quality entertainment is one of our time-starved, information soaked societies’ most precious commodities.

If you’re initial list isn’t bearing fruit, it’s time to expand out a little.


A region of any size has a local literary community, usually centered around book stores, colleges and universities, the “Readings” section of the arts calendar of the local newspaper, and writing groups. How involved are you in yours? When your town has a book festival who is invited to present? When you Google “Authors from MyTown” what names come up?

You’re an author now. You can be one of those names. If you are not already participating in your community now is the time to start.

  • Beginning attending at least a few readings a month. When you start to see the same faces, introduce yourself and say “I’ve seen you around here a bunch. Are you a regular? What other readings do you go to?” As long as you are polite, ask good questions and listen more than talk, no one will run the other way.
  • Volunteer at the local reading series/literary festival. These things are chronically understaffed and need help. Might seem like a lousy use of your time right now (I have a book to promote you dolt!) but literary communities all need enthusiastic, committed friends. And when it comes to dolling out spots at readings or events, seeking contributors to an anthology or tipping off members of the media about important players in the community, that’s who they turn to first.
  • Attend meetings or join a local writers group. Remember, you’ve just published a book. You’re further along than most. You have wisdom to share.
  • Offer to write something for a local publication. The big daily newspaper probably won’t be interested but a local blog or literary magazine might and is in continual need of good writing. Do not pitch them a “I just wrote a book!” essay (which are a dime a dozen) but rather something related to your book. If you don’t know what, pick up their last three issues, see how local writers have contributed and craft a pitch accordingly.

It’s important to note here that, yes, you are promoting a book but no one will be receptive an author who begins every sentence with “as it says in my new book…” So while your community participation is not entirely altruistic, you are engaging in a fair swap of karma. You give to the community you would like to support you and your work.

The success of book promotion is largely a matter of momentum. One event/article/enthusiastic reader begets another. As human beings, we are predisposed to share things that make us happy. We’ll be talking about how to turn curious readers into happy ones in a future segment but for now remember this…

You will be discouraged, and you will have to keep going anyway.

Your emails will go unreturned. A school that liked your event won’t recommend you to another school. You’ll impress some readers and not others. There’s nothing to be done about this except keep going. It just is. If you don’t consider your books potential larger than a few rejections, who will?

We may first hear of books via giant national megaphones but they often make their bones at a very small, very local level. The local ambassadors of literary culture are pre-disposed to pay attention to books from their local community. That’s yours.  Do you know them do they know you? Are your friends on your books side and is your book making you new friends? Even at your most excited, most-world conquering “I’m-an-author-hear-me-roar,” begin your promotional efforts with what you can do.

Begin with where you are.

Exercise: What is your small, local plan for your book? Write up a quick list of 3-5 small, local things you can do and share it here in the comments section.  launched a ten-part series on Book Promotion called “Everything you Wanted to Know about Book Promotion but were Afraid to Ask” written by CEO Kevin Smokler. Kevin has been advising authors and publishers on marketing and promotion for nearly a decade and has written and lectured on the topic throughout North America.

Popularity: 1% [?]

On the Book Tour Circuit

Posted on 15 Sep 2011 | Author Stefanie | Comments 1 comment | Tags

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Here is the fourth great installment I found on book tours, from a company that is closing their doors soon, so I thought I would pass it on to you guys!  I found it great that Kevin took the time to write about this topic.  It kind of seems like common sense, but you would be surprised at some of the things people do and say when promoting their products or books.   Kevin speaks to the little voice that creeps inside our heads from time to time, but gives you thoughts to ponder.

I also have a tip about media interviews; I found this out when I was being interviewed for my TV show.  It is shocking how many people actually cancel their interviews which sends the show’s producers scrambling to find a new person for the host to interview.  You be the one to step in and help out.  Call your media stations, especially your local ones and let them know what you are up to (remember the first post in this series and stay tuned for the sixth installment for support with this)

Tell the producer: “Do you ever have cancellations? Well, if you ever need to book a show at the last minute, call me. I’d be happy to help you out in a pinch.” This gives you professionalism and shows them that you’re on their side. I got a client booked on a talk show with this method after the producer said their fall lineup was full! My client was on TV 2 days later.


All the best,
Book Promotion: Part IV: It’s all About Good Manners

Thus far in our series, we’ve focused on how to describe your book, how to enlist friends and allies, and how to get your life in proper order before the promotion process begins. Since these are all pre-publication assignments, you may be thinking (or likely, screaming), “Are we at the actual promoting part yet? Hurry the hell up!”

We’re almost there. Today’s segment is all about good manners, and why following some basic rules our parents taught us in grade school can float or sink a book’s promotional efforts. If up until now we’ve been talking getting you and your environment ready for the day your book comes out, today we’re going to focus on the attitude you want to have when that day comes. And made no mistake: without the right attitude, your promotional efforts will resemble a sluggish, ill-fitting drag, like wearing someone else’s pajamas. And would you sleep well in someone else’s pajamas?

The right attitude to have when promoting your book is polite, humble, thoughtful, and grateful. Which may sound exactly the opposite of adjectives we usually attach to “promotion.” Promotion is all about ego, aggrandizement, and yelling “pay attention to me,” right? It is if the product is aftershave and the year is 1961. For you and your book, promoting well is a tricky balancing act of selling while appearing thankful for the opportunity to do so.

It sounds harder than it is. With few exceptions, successful book promotion is built on the basics of etiquette that we learned as children, rules like, “say please and thank you,” “listen,” “don’t complain,” and “treat others as you would like to be treated.” Applying these to the least comfortable aspects of book promotion puts you, the author, in the right frame of mind to be a successful—if reluctant—book promoter instead of a reluctant and resentful one.

Here’s how.

“I hate the whole idea of promotion.”

I understand. Most authors do not write books so they can haul themselves across the country talking about them. Writing is an introverted, solitary activity, and promoting one’s writing is an extroverted, exhibitive activity. Authors are usually uncomfortable with the activities surrounding book promotion and therefore make one of two mistakes:

  1. Viewing promotion as prostitution, which leads the author to act stiff and socially awkward, all in the name of not dirtying their hands.
  2. Grabbing onto the traditional definition of “promotion” too strongly and selling their book like a car salesman hocks a used Cadillac.

Both are incorrect and miss the point. Most authors will never be comfortable with the idea of “selling” their book, no matter how necessary they realize it is. So when they come to me, pain in their eyes, and say, “Kevin, does that mean my book is doomed?” I tell them to look at promotion in a different way.

Promoting a book is saying thank you to your present and future readers.

Readers like to meet authors (or musicians, painters, or any artist they admire) to peek into the DNA of their creations. Your reader has taken considerable time out from not only other books but from their lives in order to read yours. When you give a reading, appear at an event, or talk to the media, you are giving them privileged access not only to it but to you. It’s like the chef inviting his best customer into the kitchen. You are thanking them for their support.

“I’m tired, I’m stressed, etc.”

Book promotion is hard work; hard work that often must fit in around jobs, family, and other responsibilities. In the last segment we discussed freeing up as much space as possible but, try as we might, time to promote one’s book often comes out of time we’d normally spend on ourselves—eating right, exercising, relaxing, and getting a good night’s sleep. The result, naturally, is that come the tenth event, twentieth interview or hundredth email telling someone about your book, you’re sick of it. You’re tired, crabby, want it to end and are ready to vent to someone.

That “someone” cannot be your readers. Few things are more off-putting for a reader than hearing the author complain about what a burden doing book promotion is. It not only embarrasses the reader (“Is my being here such a nuisance?”), but it also seems ungrateful. Many readers are aspiring authors themselves, and promoting a book means having a book to promote. Complaining about something your readers dream about seems ungrateful and bratty. Ungrateful brattiness does not sell books.

You are not made of steel, I know. Before your book comes out, compile a list of three close friends and ask them nicely if, when promoting is at its hardest, you may call them and vent. If they are good friends, they’ll say yes. Keep your complaints to them.

“Doing this interview/event/blog post/random task is a waste of my time.”

If your book is the next Eat Pray Love, and you’re due on The Today Show on Friday, it probably is. More likely, it can feel this way when a blog with sixteen readers wants you to guest post or a radio station in Nowheresville wants you to do a phone-in interview at 5:30 AM.

But most likely it is not. The overwhelming majority of authors are responsible for their own book promotion, and every little bit helps. And a blog/radio show with sixteen fans may be exactly the right sixteen fans to take interest in your book.

Before trapping yourself in the negative spiral of “How much good is this doing?” do this:

  • Be grateful someone is asking. It is much worse if no one is interested.
  • Weigh how much time it will take against the probable result. Ten minutes on the phone with that Nowheresville radio station is still only ten minutes. But if that sixteen reader blog wants you to write a 5,000-word essay, decline gently and offer to do something smaller you can finish quickly.
  • When finished, thank them for their interest. If you had a particularly wonderful experience, take five minutes and write a thank-you note by hand. Old fashioned, but impresses every time.

I’m not spending any time writing my next book.”

I’m sorry, but you probably won’t. This is the sad reality of book promotion. Do it right and it takes up most of your available time even for writing. Looked at practically…

  • The more opportunities that come, the better indication of interest in your book.
  • Without your efforts, you are assuring your book will not do as well, thereby making the issue of your next book, at the very least, complicated, and at the most, irrelevant.

Make peace with this. There is no other way. Or carve out a bit of time to begin your next project. Either way, complaining about it is like yelling at the tide. Out loud, it’s a turn-off to readers who don’t even have a “next book” to complain about.

“My aim is to sell more books. Is any of this working?”

The eternal cry of each of us authors. All this time and effort and money, and for what?

No one knows what will work when promoting a book. We do know this, though:

  • More promotion is always better than less.
  • Thoughtful, well-executed promotion is always better than sloppy, throwing-spaghetti promotion.
  • All else being equal, authors who are polite, kind, and grateful for the opportunity to share their book with its readers will do better than those who are rude, entitled, or resentful of having to promote.

Your aim is to sell books. No one wants to buy what a jackass is selling. Perhaps once every three years a book is so unstoppable in the marketplace that its creator may be standoffish, highhanded, a real jerk and it won’t matter. Most likely this will not be your book.

My research tells me that an author’s lousy attitude will have a direct, negative bearing on book sales in the following ways…

  • Their publisher will be reluctant to put them and their lousy attitude in front of the media and readers.
  • Booksellers and librarians won’t recommend their book to customers, because why extend goodwill to a not-nice author when their store is filled with good books by nice authors?
  • Members of the media find excuses to set aside coverage because there are plenty of deserving books with nice authors.
  • Word spreads amongst readers that X author is a heel and, all else being equal, why buy a heel’s book when there’s plenty to read by authors without a crappy reputation?

Manners get a lousy rap these days. As a culture, we’re too quick to judge them as fussy trivialities from an older time when using the right fork meant more than who had the right to vote. In our current time of global competition, between long commutes and being glued to our Blackberries, who can risk the wasted time of please and thank yous? Doesn’t putting another’s needs before yours make you less of a nice person than a chump?

Someone else can have that cock fight. For my money, I wish to support my fellow authors who believe discussing our books with readers is an honor, not a burden.  You are working in service of your book, of your artistry and the years of time spent on it. You are speaking well on its behalf. And if you don’t, who will?  launched a ten-part series on Book Promotion called “Everything you Wanted to Know about Book Promotion but were Afraid to Ask” written by CEO Kevin Smokler. Kevin has been advising authors and publishers on marketing and promotion for nearly a decade and has written and lectured on the topic throughout North America.

Popularity: 3% [?]

Getting ready for your book or product promotion

Posted on 13 Sep 2011 | Author Stefanie | Comments 1 comment | Tags

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Here is the third great installment I found on book tours, from a company that is closing their doors soon, so I thought I would pass it on to you guys! 

Sometimes there are so many pieces involved in promotions and you want to have every detail perfect that you end up not ever getting your campaign going.  It’s really important to know the pieces involved, but to also remember that what’s more important than being ‘perfect’ is to JUST DO IT!  In this article Kevin describes some of the things you can think about before your book promotion.  Enjoy.

All the best,

Book Promotion: Getting Your House in Order

So far in our series, we’ve discussed how best to describe your book in an airtight sentence and who your first group of readers will be. This week, we’re going to pull back a bit.

Imagine that you’re in the weeks and months right before your book is published. What’s the best way to get ready for the big day? How much time will it take and what needs doing? All of these questions are part of the answer to the one that keeps authors awake at night when they have a new book on the horizon.

How ready would you like to feel?

When entertaining guests, we clean the house and stock the icebox. Before a trip, we pack a suitcase and notify the neighbors. We do this because the best antidote for fear of the unexpected is readiness. Just as you won’t be a good host if you don’t plan for your guest’s arrival, you’ll be a lousy spokesperson for your book if you don’t get ready before its due date. Put more simply…

In order to best promote your book, make sure your own house is in order.

Anyone who has thrown a party knows that readiness does not mean scurrying about when the doorbell rings. Preparing to promote one’s book requires time and effort in advance of the publication day. The normal amount of prep time needed for book promotion is 3-6 months. For what? You might cry with surprise. I’m about to tell you. And before you think I’m being excessive, think of how long it took you to write your book. Do you want to skimp on your efforts now, right before it’s time for your book to find its readers?

How do you get ready? I break it down into three parts: 1) your calendar 2) your team 3) your online presence

Your Calendar: Clear it.

A diligent and thoughtful promotion effort takes three to six months of preparation and at least that much once the book is published. So to give your book both a fighting chance, we’re talking about a year. Sometimes it’s more. A lot less and your book will suffer.

We both know life won’t stop because you’ve got a book coming. So while it’d be unreasonable for me to say “clear a year on your calendar,” it’s also smart not to actively court major life changes during this crucial time.

That may sound like an obvious warning, but after a decade in publishing, I’m still amazed by how often authors decide that the weeks and months leading up to their book’s publication are exactly the right time to get married, have a baby, buy a house, change jobs, schedule major surgery, join the circus, etc.

Now is not the time for any of those things. Promoting your book, if done properly, will be at least a part-time job—more, if all goes well. And you want to be available for more interviews, more events, more everything should your book start to find its readers.

Promoting your book will be plenty hard. Don’t let your schedule stand in the way of your success.

Your Team: Talk to it.

We may write alone, but most do not live that way. Even though book promotion requires substantial time and energy, our families, friends, and coworkers will not vanish and let us devote ourselves fully to it.

But they can help, and will, if you ask. Three to six months before pub date is the time to start communicating with the key players in your life. Let your job know that you might need to take some days off or start socking away vacation time. Enlist your spouse and family to help out and reward them afterward with the vacation you will have to postpone now. (I once worked with an author who had scheduled a three-week no-Internet-access vacation for the week after her publication day. Guess how well her book sold?) As we discussed last week, your friends are your best allies. Now is the time to start prepping them for what lies ahead. And what lies ahead for you may be travel, late night events, extra hours at your laptop, and radio interviews at 5 AM.

And that’s if you’re promoting well.

Most importantly, if you are working with a publisher and/or a publicist, three to six months is the time to open lines of communication. A short, thoughtful email (four to six lines) to your editor saying you’d like to be introduced to your publicist is perfectly appropriate. If you won’t have a publicist, that same email is meant to clarify with your publisher who has what marketing responsibilities. Are they handling pitching reviewers and mailing galleys, or are you? Who is scheduling events? The answers vary but they will never be “sit still, we’ll take care of it.” You will be working. Now is the time to get clear on what and how much.

A word here about manners. Your publisher and/or publicist is a skilled professional with a demanding job. Yours is likely not the only book they are handling. Now is the time to state that you trust their judgment and are ready to be a hard working member of the team. “Put me to work!” your communication should convey. This is not the time for demands, blurted expectations, or “I won’t dos.” Rudeness or rigidity will sour your publisher on you and your book. And do you really want to do that to your book before it’s even been published?

Your Online Presence: Build it.

You will need an author website. A website takes time and money. Three to six months before pub date is a good time to start.

An ideal author’s website will be professionally designed (that means by someone who designs websites for a living, not your niece between homework and band practice) and will cost between $500-$1000. The domain name should be or if you have a common name. Remember, the Internet is a big, unruly place. You want it to be as easy as possible for you and your book to be found.

A quality author website will contain pages for your biography, your book, news/events/happenings related to your promotional efforts, and a contact page with your email and that of your publicist. That’s all you need. With writers’ websites, less is often more. Music, animation, or a lot of fancy graphics are a distracting waste and come off as desperate. Your website should focus on conveying the most useful information to a prospective reader as quickly as possible

To find a good website designer, visit the websites of authors you respect who have new books coming out. A clear, simple, dignified website was designed by someone good. Their email will be at the bottom of the page. Contact two or three designers and see how you get along. A good designer will answer your questions promptly and with patience and clarity. A lousy designer will be short, thoughtless, tardy, or will not listen. Don’t give them your money, no matter how pretty talented they seem.

Should you set up a blog? A Facebook page? A Twitter account?

Can you maintain it? A blog is a continuously updated set of short writings. A Twitter account is a continuous stream of 140 characters updated several times a day. Do these sound like tasks you’d be willing to maintain for the duration of the promotion process? Because a poorly maintained blog/Twitter/Facebook page is worse than none at all.

We’ll be discussing which technologies to use on the marketing trail in a future segment. For now, three to six months is the time to start learning about these basic social media tools. Ask a friend or another author who uses them well to walk you through. Or just do a Google search on “How do I use Twitter to promote my book?” These are called “social media” for a reason.  How to use them is not a state secret.

Exercise: It’s three to six months before your book is going to be published. Begin clearing your calendar, assembling your team, and researching your website and social media tools. Then tell us in the comment section how it’s going. launched a ten-part series on Book Promotion called “Everything you Wanted to Know about Book Promotion but were Afraid to Ask” written by CEO Kevin Smokler. Kevin has been advising authors and publishers on marketing and promotion for nearly a decade and has written and lectured on the topic throughout North America.

Popularity: 4% [?]

It’s who you know for your book promotion

Posted on 08 Sep 2011 | Author Stefanie | Comments 3 comments | Tags

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Here is the second great installment I found on book tours, from a company that is closing their doors soon, so I thought I would pass it on to you guys!

There was a study by Microsoft on their IM service and it proved that we really are closer to people than we realize. In this article Kevin talks about asking people for help. I agree with him especially if you make people feel included in the excitement and they begin to have a vested interest in your book doing well, After all this is an exciting time. Ask all your friends, family, neighbors for a favor. Don’t forget you do the exercise at the end. Enjoy.

All the best,

Book Promotion: It’s Who You Know

In our last segment, we talked about how you, the author, must develop an airtight answer to the first question anyone you meet on the book promotion trail will ask you:

“Tell me about your book.”

In this segment, we’re going to discuss whom will be doing the asking. If book promotion is an act of matchmaking your book to the right readers, today’s segment is about how to find those “right readers.” The answer, you’ll see, is a lot closer to home than you think.

Everyone knows somebody. And by “somebody” I don’t mean Oprah or John Stewart or the Bestseller Fairy. I mean the circles of humanity we all have in our lives. Those circles are the first 75-100 readers of your book. They have the potential to be much greater if you ask them to be then work with them to make it happen

As an author who spends much of their time at the keyboard or in their imagination, it may not seem like your world is teeming with allies. But it is. Try this.

Make a list of:

  • Your friends and family members, the ones who will say “I’ll buy that” when you tell them you’ve got a book.
  • Your colleagues at work. Same criteria.
  • Anyone you are friendly with via your kids. Again, same criteria.
  • Friendly faces through hobbies and community work—at the ski club, dance class, church, neighborhood association.
  • Old friends from childhood, high school, or college.
  • Anyone you talk with regularly via social media (Facebook, Twitter or the like).

Unless you’re a hermit or just not very nice (I’m afraid I can’t help you there), you’ve probably got a good list of several dozen names. These names are where you begin.

Let’s take another look at that list and ask these questions.

  • Who on this list works for or knows someone well at the local media (newspaper, TV, radio)?
  • Who leads a social group (book group, synagogue committee, monthly dinner with friends) or professional association that would like to have an author as the meeting’s entertainment?
  • Who on this list has a blog, an active and well-read Twitter feed, runs an email mailing list, or has more than 300 friends on Facebook?
  • Who is a natural-born host who would love to throw you a book party?
  • Who knows someone in another part of the country whom would do any of these things for you as well?

Separate out that smaller list. Three months before your book becomes available, get in touch. Thank them for their support, their friendship. Tell them you’ve spend a goodly part of the last year or two writing this book and it means the world to you. It would mean the world all over again if you could enlist their help in matchmaking your book with the right readers via one of the means described above—if they could talk about/recommend your book in a way that’s comfortable to them.

You’re not asking List A to spam or make nuisances of themselves on behalf of your book. You’re asking to speak with sincerity and an open heart about the creative project of someone they like—you. Handled with honesty and grace, no one will hold it against them.

Those who don’t make the cut should get a separate email after the book comes out asking them to buy it. Because it would mean the world to you. And remember what we learned in the last segment about talking about your book. Succinct, precise, but leave a little to the imagination

Book promotion is a block party. If you’re lucky, the party is thrown by someone else (the New York Times, your well-paid publicist, Oprah) and you just show up. You don’t even have to bring potato salad. But that’s simply not the case for most writers, and everyone knows that. Which is why most publishers, publicists, booksellers and members of the media will be most impressed by the effort you put in yourself, by your willingness to bring what you have to the party, or to throw it yourself.

I know perhaps you are shy and it’s no fun to ask for favors. This is the time to get over it. If you can’t ask the people closest to you to invest in your book, how do you expect complete strangers to invest their time and money in reading it?

Why do this? Because effort breeds effort and work begets work. You want readers. You have to begin with the most obvious candidates. Starting there means a) at least you have someone interested in your book, and b) the more excited you can get those readers (who know you and are predisposed to support your efforts) about being part of the block party that is the promotion of your book, the more likely they’ll be to invite others.

An author friend of ours once spoke to 175 book clubs over a year’s worth of promotion for his second novel. Why, I asked, when he had a wife, two young children and a day job as a professor, not to mention writing a third book, to return to?

“I wanted to be the one responsible for my book’s success or failure. I figured as long as I kept the water running, the bathtub would eventually fill up. If it didn’t, it wasn’t anyone’s fault but mine.”

Exercise:  Make a list of everyone in your life who wishes you and your writing career well. Separate that list into two groups:

  • Group A, those that know someone, head up a group or would be willing to help in a larger way; and
  • Group B, those you just want to buy the book. launched a ten-part series on Book Promotion called “Everything you Wanted to Know about Book Promotion but were Afraid to Ask” written by CEO Kevin Smokler. Kevin has been advising authors and publishers on marketing and promotion for nearly a decade and has written and lectured on the topic throughout North America.

Popularity: 4% [?]

Tell me about your Book

Posted on 06 Sep 2011 | Author Stefanie | Comments 11 comments | Tags

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I found this great blog series on book tours, from a company that is closing their doors soon, so I thought I would pass it on to you guys!  Enjoy.

All the best,


Part I: Tell Me About Your Book.
So you’ve written a book. Hooray! That’s a huge accomplishment. Be proud, tell all your friends, do a silly dance and take yourself to dinner. You deserve it all.

But easy on the champagne there, partner. The work isn’t over yet. Writing a book is one thing. Getting people to read it is entirely different, as big an undertaking as writing it in the first place. So congratulations on finishing something huge. Now take a deep breath and get ready for Something Huge – The Sequel: Promoting Your Book.

A book can’t get read if readers don’t know about it. It’s your job as the author to make that introduction. At its bones, that’s what book promotion is. Matchmaking between your book and the right readers for it. It doesn’t take a lot of money or Oprah’s home phone number. But it will take preparation, time, smarts, and creativity, the exact skills you brought to writing your book. Which tells me you can do it.

There was a time (in the age of stone tablets and loincloths) where you, the author, didn’t have to promote. It was your publisher’s responsibility to get your book its readers and you, having finished one book, took a deep breath, and then started another. But that was a long time ago and let’s not dwell on it. It won’t come back in fashion any faster than the horse-drawn plow.

So how do you introduce your book to the right reader? We’re all familiar with the obvious ways to find out about new books. The front table at your local bookstore, a primo interview on NPR, The Daily Show. But every other author in the known universe knows about them too and how many readers they reach. As such, those opportunities are winning lottery tickets, once in a life timers. They aren’t smart planning, any more than “I’ll strike oil in the backyard!” is smart planning for your kids tuition money.

How do you introduce your book to the right reader? That’s what this series is about. We’re going to travel together chronologically though the process, meaning that the essay you’re reading now is the very first you’ll do, next week’s will be the second thing and so on. Each part is designed to make you as smart and nimble with your career as you are with your prose.

Let’s go.

“Tell me about your book.”

The entire story of book promotion begins with that phrase. Without a good answer to it, you the author are trying to grow flowers without soil. Nothing else in book promotion happens without that answer. A good answer to “tell me about your book” is “Once Upon A Time…”

A lot of people are going to ask you “tell them about your book.” Here’s a short list…

  • Booksellers who need to know what shelf it goes on at their store.
  • Members of the media who what to know what they are covering.
  • Readers need to know why your book should be read before the 15 others currently piled on their night table.

They all need an answer and they need it fast. These are busy people and there are several dozen authors in line behind you who want their attention.

“Tell me about your book”

You’re the author. You know the story of your book better than anyone. Nonetheless I’m amazed how many authors break out in sweat when asked that. The answer then comes out something like this….

My book is a mystery novel, set in Seattle, 409 pages long with a main character named Sally Ann. She has a boyfriend who plays baseball and a dog. I thought about not giving her a dog because how would she solve crimes if she always had to go home to walk Woof Woof? I didn’t want to name the dog Woof Woof. The dog’s name was originally Thurston Terwillager and wait, did I mention Sally Ann, my main character’s favorite food is anchovies? Anchovies are very important to the story and…

Still listening? I’m not. We’re six sentences into “tell me about your book” and I still don’t know what’s about. I’ve already moved on to the author in line behind you.

If book promotion is matchmaking between your book and everyone who you want to know about it, “tell me about your book,” is the first date. And nobody wants to be on a first date with a motormouth who can’t keep their thoughts straight. If you WROTE the book and can’t say, with confidence, what it’s about, is there any point to continuing the conversation? All I’m thinking is “If this author writes as badly as they explain…”

I know you’ve worked on this book for two years and want to talk about everything in it. But it isn’t time for “everything.” You’re on a first date. You goal is to get a second date.

When someone says “Tell me about your book” here’s what they are actually asking you…

  • Tell me what category your book fits in–mystery, memoir, poetry, romance etc… This gives me a frame of reference.
  • Tell about what happens.
  • Tell me just enough about your book so that I’m left curious. Tell me too much and why do need to read it?
  • Tell me about your book in 20 seconds or less. After that, I’ll stop paying attention.

Your answer therefore has to accomplish a lot in not much time. Sounds hard, I know. But let’s try it with our friend Sally Ann.

My book is a mystery novel, set in Seattle, about a detective named Sally Ann framed for murder, when her dog Woof Woof finds the body of her boyfriend, A Seattle Mariner Shortstop on her front lawn.

I want to read more, don’t you? What happened to her boyfriend? How does Sally Ann solve his murder? Who framed her? Is Woof Woof crucial to the mystery?

Where can I buy this book right now and find out?

Every great book summary has these 3 parts:

  1. A category (“mystery novel”)
  2. Parameters aka what happens and what is the reader getting themselves into (“Seattle”, “a detective” “a dead boyfriend”)
  3. Something left to the imagination (a dead body, a framed main character)

More is noise. And on the first date, you need to speak loud and clear. Noise makes me plug my ears and run away.

Assume this: Everyone who wants to hear about your book is yes, busy but also dying to get hooked into a great story. Or else why would they be interested in books in the first place?

Don’t stand in their way. A confusing, messy summary leads to a confused frustrated conversation about your book that no one–not media, bookseller, reader–will want to have. They’ve just lost interest and haven’t even picked up the book yet.

A great summary does the opposite. It sharpens, clarifies and focuses your efforts. A great book summary helps whomever you’re talking to gauge their interest quickly and decide if they want to hear more, have a second date.

No book is for everyone (The editor of Men’s Health is not going to write about “Twilight” no matter how many millions of copies it sold. His readers are not “Twilight” readers) and the sooner you know who yours are, the less time you will waste in promoting your book to readers whose interests lie elsewhere. It doesn’t matter what happens in chapter 9 of your military biography. Your book is not for a radio show aimed at teenage girls.

A good summary clarifies that immediately. For you and your reader.

“Tell me about your book.” A good answer is difficult but vital. Without “once upon a time” why would anyone continue reading? If you can’t begin the conversation about your book, who else will?

In the next installment, we’ll be talking about who exactly you’ll be promoting your book to.

Exercise:  Using the “Rule of Three Parts” (category, parameter, imagination), come up with a great answer to the question “Tell me about Your Book” launched a ten-part series on Book Promotion called “Everything you Wanted to Know about Book Promotion but were Afraid to Ask” written by CEO Kevin Smokler. Kevin has been advising authors and publishers on marketing and promotion for nearly a decade and has written and lectured on the topic throughout North America.

Popularity: 11% [?]

New York, New York – Gotta love it!

Posted on 26 May 2009 | Author Stefanie | Comments 11 comments | Tags

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Quick note…

I’m on my way to New York City for a few days.  I LOVE this city.

Going to this event as Rick Frishman’s personal guest (thank you Rick): CLICK HERE

Come find me if you’ll be there!   I’m the tall blonde hanging around the speakers.

I’m excited to be meeting with my publisher as well as my friends Mark Victor Hansen, Jill Lublin, and David Hancock.

I will also be attending the Book Expo on Friday, along with 30,000 attendees – wow that’s BIG.

I’m flying there to put together something REALLY BIG for YOU that I may be able to reveal this fall.

Hope to see you there!


Popularity: 2% [?]

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