Stefanie Hartman In The Press

Tag Archive | "Book Tours"

Authors Getting Real About Social Media

Posted on 25 Oct 2011 | Author Stefanie | Comments No comments | Tags

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Here is the tenth 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 is a lot of different ways to use social media for your promotions and launches including your book tour.  I like how Kevin approaches this subject, he talks about knowing your target market and using the right tools for it.  When you think about your audience think about them in all their dimensions, paint a 3D picture of them.  What age/sex/gender are they?  Where do they like to hang out?  What is their lifestyle like?  Knowing this will help you reach them more efficiently. 

When you are ready check out your social media tools at www.getitdonetodayseries.com

Enjoy.

All the best,
Stefanie

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Authors Getting Real About Social Media

Last time we mentioned we’d be discussing social media and technology in this segment of our series. We are not the first to go here. The articles and books indicating what technological wizardry authors should be using to get their books noticed are myriad. Stacked together, they could block a garage door. One Google search on “Should authors tweet?” or “social media for writers” will send them towards you like a fire hose stuck up your left nostril.

So we will refrain because who needs more from a fire hose? Instead this chapter of our series will be our shortest. When talking about technology and authorship, the message we must bring to has between supported and repeated by the previous 8 segments. We’ll only say it slightly differently.

“When selecting the appropriate tools for promoting your book, choose the best fit for your book and your reader, not the shiniest toy.”

I have given hundreds of talks to writers over the last decade and I’ve taken to doing a quick scan of technology news the day before an engagement. Because if a publication of any size has written about Twitter/YouTube/Insert new hot technology company name here that week, come Q&A I will invariably hear…

  • Should I be tweeting?
  • Should I be YouTubing?
  • Should I be using something I don’t know/don’t understand/and haven’t even pronounced correctly because I read about it in Newsweek?

There are three false assumptions at work here. 1) Authors assume that promotional success awaits whoever grabs the newest tool first 2) That “newest” means “best” and 3) If they don’t grab it, they will miss the legions of readers using this tool and saying “we would have bought that book if only the author had used New Tool X to find us.

Let’s look at each of these missteps and how they can be framed as strong, productive questions instead of acts of desperation.

Assumption #1: No tool is a magic wand. If using a social media tool meant instant bestsellerdom, everyone would do it and the bestseller list would be 95 million books long. We hear about the authors who used a tool well because it is an exception to a rule, not a solution for everyone. So instead of asking “should I be using x” let us start an alternative.

Instead: What is my book and what is the right tool for it? I know I’ve said this a million times in our series but I cannot emphasize it enough. Without knowing your book, no tool will work on its behalf. Without understanding the lock, it’s pointless to look for the key.

Return to our previous exercises and ask: “What is my book. Who are my readers? Which tool would reach them best?”

Answer to the last of those inquiries follows…

Assumption #2: New tools are just that. New. Not better. New. Twitter, Facebook, Flickr, Goodreads are all tools. Tools do some things well and some things not so well. Because they are digital tools doesn’t make them any different than tools made of wood and steel. You would use a hammer when hanging a picture but not to trim your fingernails.

So what is the tool and how well does its purpose line up with your book? Equally as important: How well does the tool line up with your strengths as an author? Are you hilarious and fun in quick bursts? Twitter might be for you then. Can your book be divided into short exciting segments (travel books, cookbooks for example). Twitter again is a good fit. Flickr might be a good fit if you are a skilled amateur photographer or if your book lends itself to visual images (guide books, coffee table, location-dependent novels). If you’ve got 500 Facebook friends already, why ignore that avenue?

Instead: Right tool. Right book. Any tool you are curious about do a “what is Tool Name” search on Google. Then ask yourself “What is this tools primary function and is that function a good fit for my book? Then do a Google search on “what’s the best way to use Tool Name.” Read it. Does it sound like something you could do well even if it makes you a little uncomfortable? If yes, then do it. If no, then don’t. Because…

Assumption #3: I’ll be punished if I don’t tweet/YouTube/Facebook! My readers will abandon me! If our readers are gathering like crazy somewhere and we don’t know it, let’s call this a high-class problem and move on. The only tool you’re going to be punished for not using is one blatantly obvious. No website, no listing on BookTour (ho ho) is grounds for abandonment. Everything else…

Instead: Research. Think a tool might be right for you; spend some time Googling “Authors who use Tool Name” well. What can you learn from them and apply to you and your book. Or go one step bigger and look at the careers of the successful authors in your genre (don’t go nuts. If you write mysteries, study your favorite local mystery author, not James Patterson) and see what they’ve done. Then steal it from them.

Technology and Social Media are not fairy dust. They are methods by which authors, readers and books form three legged and enduring relationships. Relationships beyond “buy something from me” and “I really enjoyed that thing you wrote.” Social media are methods to maintain ongoing communication with your readers, for them to see you and your books as relatable, as something they wish to know and support. It is very hard to remain unknowable while maintaining a Facebook page or a twitter account. But that doesn’t mean you need to be spilling your guts to your readers every five minutes. But they might like to know about the process of creation of your next book, what you’re reading, and your thoughts on the future of publishing etc. You won’t know until you give them an opportunity to ask you. And if you feel like you don’t know how, you’re not alone but that’s not an excuse. How to use a social media tool is not a state secret. Find others in your field who are using them well (again Google) and ask them.

BookTour.com 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% [?]

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,
Stefanie

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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.

BookTour.com  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% [?]

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,
Stefanie
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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” (Helen.Joseph@mysite.com)
From: “Jack Mulligan” (jmulligan@mysitel.com)
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.

Best,
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 www.booktour.com/pressfinder/search for suggestions. Then create a sample pitch letter.

BookTour.com 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,
Stefanie
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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.

Local.

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.

BookTour.com  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.

Enjoy.

All the best,
Stefanie
————————————————
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?

BookTour.com  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% [?]

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,
Stefanie

——————————

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”

BookTour.com 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% [?]

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