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My publisher currently does a lot to advertise my books, but what can I do to help spread the word?

ETA: Here's what my publisher said they do to promote their books:

"Dreamspinner invests 10% of our income on marketing and promotion. We have tables at events one to two times per month. In 2009 we distributed more than 15,000 promotional CDs with excerpts of all of our titles. We actively keep a Facebook and Twitter presence as well as our own blog and yahoo group. We currently have banner and cover ads running on 42 internet sites (review sites, fan fiction sites, romance and gay lifestyle sites). Our titles are carried by six international distributors, including one that serves the North American public library system for both print and digital titles. We sponsor events like Saints & Sinners in New Orleans and the Rainbow Book Fair in New York. We have a stipend that our authors can use toward vendor fees at local Pride events and festivals if they wish to promote their work and Dreamspinner Press."

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This is somewhat vague; can you give more details about the book? What is your publisher already doing? –  Neil Fein Dec 15 '10 at 22:21
    
My books are primarily gay romances. I was trying to leave the question a bit general so that it can apply to anyone's books. –  Ralph Gallagher Dec 15 '10 at 23:04
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what would be helpful I think is to tell us what your publisher does, something like a "beyond these things, what should an author do." –  justkt Dec 16 '10 at 14:03

7 Answers 7

up vote 4 down vote accepted

You might consider approaching local bookstores to do readings and/or signings. These types of events let potential readers meet you, and people who might otherwise pass over your book may decide to pick it up. (I have purchased books due to reading/signing events that I would never have purchased otherwise.) Additionally, the bookstore may order more of your book than they otherwise would have, in preparation for the event.

If you do decide to try this, don't limit yourself to the big stores. There are still a few independent bookstores in most metropolitan areas, and they may be more open to hosting an event, especially by a local author.

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This sounds like a small scale of what big authors are doing when their on a book tour. To turn a phrase about - if it works for the gander... –  QuickerSnarkerBacker Jan 27 '11 at 20:10

Network, network, network. Go to places like kindleboards and you will find lots of people with great advice willing to help you out. Even though the site is primarily about helping self-published authors trying to sell e-books, the tips and information is relevant to any author trying to promote a book.

Some of the things that are available there are threads to help tag your book(s) on Amazon to increase the relevance in certain searches. There are also a number of threads from other authors offering to post interviews on their sites or blogs to help you get more exposure. You will also find lists of book review sites that are currently accepting books, and they are usually listed by genre.

To tie into the network idea, you will find threads where authors "Like" each other's authors Facebook page. Don't have one? There's a thread to show you how and explains the relevance of having one. There are also threads on how and why to set up a blog.

If you don't have a Twitter account, then create one and join one of the threads to obtain followers. You will be surprised how many people will retweet your information for you. Just as an example, I posted an interview on my blog with an indie writer and then tweeted it. That message got retweeted 14 times by my followers, and 27 times by the other author's followers!

Create an account at LibraryThing and do a book giveaway in exchange for reviews. I did this and found good success with it. I spent a lot of time following all of these steps for a series of books I wrote under a pen name, and they are all doing surprisingly well. Once I finish writing my next series of books, I will start doing the same thing with the books I've published under my own name.

Now if only I could find a few more hours in the day to do the REST of the stuff I need/want to get done!

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Seems like a no brainer but have you tried contacting genre reviewers and have them review your book?

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How about links in your profile to where members of this group can buy copies of your book or even to your own website. You're talking to people who have an interest in books and reading (or should) and are community minded. So why make them work to find copies of your work to buy? Admittedly they can Google the pen name in your bio but still if there's a rulebook for successful selling one of them must surely be: Don't put obstacles in the way of a potential customer.

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See, now I know what kinds of books you write. Awesome. It had never crossed my mind that this sub genre of romance existed and as a writer I am fascinated to see how such a subject is handled so I may buy one just to see how one would write a romance like that. My wife may buy them all but sometimes I can't tell what she wants to read and what she doesn't. –  One Monkey Dec 17 '10 at 11:46

Do you have a good short story? Get it published somewhere that has an audience that might like your stuff.

For example, my master plan is:

  • Finish my first good-enough-to-be-publishable novel
  • Really polish my best one or two short stories
  • Get one onto Escape Pod or Podcastle (podcasts with very large audiences of sci-fi - 10k+ subscribers - and fantasy fiction, respectively. This may involve having it featured in another respectable publication first)
  • Ask them to mention my new book (as well as my website etc) in the brief author bio that they read out just before the story.

Something like that should get some attention for your stuff from a group likely to buy it.

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You could start a blog. A lot of writers do that, I've noticed. But the blog has to be interesting or it won't help. You can also go on Twitter and FaceBook. Same story.

The first rule of promotion is that you have to define your target audience. Who do you think will want to read your book? Picture that person clearly in your mind. Then design your promotional campaign around that specific person. Metaphorically speaking, go to where he or she hangs out, get right up in his or her face, and say, "Hey! You! Read this book!"

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A way to do this might be to pay for some advertising (and a good landing page/website) either on a search engine or (better) on websites that should be of interest to your target audience. Time is money, so if you have time to write extra stuff, it's possible that it's even better invested in other ventures which then can fund the advertising. –  QuickerSnarkerBacker Jan 27 '11 at 20:14

All the things that help raise your profile as an author (going to events related to your topic/genre, blogging, etc.) help promote your books, too. Also, coordinate with your publisher: they may have ideas, too.

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