My novel, The Fence My Father Built, is officially out on October 1, 2009. Today, with temps climbing into the 90s, October seems forever away. But it's really only a few weeks. From now until then, I'll be busting my buns to get bookings on Tv/radio, signings and other events both locally and regionally. The closest metro hub is Portland, so I'll concentrate most of my efforts there, but I'll try to take any opportunity I can get. What are some ways debut novelists can build their audience, define their "brand,"and create as much buzz as possible?
First Rule of Book Promotion: Don't Be Shy
If you feel uncomfortable doing self-promotion, get over it. Buy C. Hope Clark's book, The Shy Writer to help you defeat the urge to fade into the wallpaper. The first place to look for potential readers is your email and cell contacts lists. I've published nonfiction books and taught writing for a number of years, so I have contacts in those areas. But even if I only knew friends and family, I wouldn't hesitate to start there. If you can't get your closest friends and family to buy and/or chat up your work, who can you count on?
Use Your Publicist
Contrary to popular opinion, most debut authors won't be touring the country on the company dime. Yet all but the smallest publishers usually give authors at least temporary access to a publicist. This person spreads the word about your release by sending out advance reader copies press kits and press releases, sets up events/signings/appearance with print, video and radio media and helps coordinate any travel included in your contract for promotional purposes. The publisher is most willing to offer you the use of a publicist in the first 3 months after your book is released. After that, you may be on your own. In fact, I've been told it's more effective if an author self-delivers ARCs or press kits to local reviewers and bookstores. The personal touch will help your face become known to those in your area who regularly work with authors.
Social Network Until You Drop
Blog tours, guest interviews on websites/blogs and chatting up your book on social networking sites can be a powerful way to get your book known. But don't limit yourself to Facebook, Twitter and MySpace. Get your info on Goodreads, FaceBook, YouTube, Shoutlife!, Digg, Tangle, MyPage, Redroom, LinkedIn and as many others as you can. Set up blog tours as far in advance as possible, and offer to review/do giveaways on your own blog. You DO have a blog, right? If not, get one started today. Write a short paragraph each day until you build up the number of posts. Visit other similar websites and blogs (maybe other authors in your genre) comment and leave your blog's link so others can find you.
Tomorrow: More promotion tips and tricks. (Isn't this fun?)