Monday, November 8, 2010

Top Ten Ways To Promote Your Book On A Budget

I don’t know what scares me more – worrying that Book Two won’t be as good as Book One or worrying that Book One isn’t as good as I thought it was, and the reviewers will rip me a new one. I lay awake at night thinking up all kinds of scenarios from making the NY Times Best Sellers List to totally bombing. Hopefully, I’ll fall somewhere in between.

In the meantime, I have to start thinking about promoting Book One, and I’m trying to get the best bang for my buck. So, I’ve been studying ways to do that and have come up with the top ten ways to promote my book – with as little money as possible. Here they are:

1. Get a decent website. I have one where people can get to know me as well as find out release dates for my books. That wasn’t free, but finding a professional who designed it and maintains it didn’t break the bank. www, I have one recipe from my book there and plan on posting several more as well as contests for readers.

2. Blog. I’m already part of a group blog and spend a lot of time trying to get my name out there. That and a little paying it forward to other writers. (Which reminds me – the second annual blog contest, as yet unnamed, will be ready for submissions after the first of the year. So, be watching the blog for exciting details.) On the negative side of blogging, it was reported at the Bouchercon (mystery conference) this year that blogging is way down the list of successful things to do to market your book. Okay, maybe spending all this time really isn’t worth it career wise, but I love kibitzing with other writers. I look at it as writer’s therapy!!

3. Get any kind of free promo you can. This includes guest blogging, commenting on other blogs using your signature line with your book title and release date, and using FaceBook and Twitter. Pass out business cards with your info wherever you go. The great JA Konrath said he puts a bookmark in every piece of mail he sends – utility bills, phone bills, correspondence with anyone, etc. How smart is that?

4. Take advantage of free book reviews. For the cost of an ARC, there are many sites that will review your blog without a charge. I am fortunate because my publisher sends out copies for me, but even if they didn’t, I would look into getting more ARCS or sending my manuscript in a Word document. Some quick review sites: Romance Junkies, All About Romance, Romance Reader At Heart, CataRomance, The Romance Reader, Historical Romance Club, Novel Spot, Arm Chair Reviews, New and Used Books, Mysterious Reviews, The Mystery Reader, Mystery Inc, and a boatload more out there. Now, if I only knew a surefire way to get them to give me a good review!!

5. Give a free reading at a local library. I was just asked to be on a panel for one. Unfortunately, my book doesn’t come out until next year, so it wouldn’t be beneficial for me. But you can bet I’ll check this out when it’s time. I’m thinking there’s a whole gang of people out there who might not know about my book and coincidentally, they’re looking for a Christmas present for Aunt Suzie who loves mysteries!

6. See if any of the local book clubs would like to review your book. I have three already scheduled. All are friends who are really excited about this. Hopefully, every member will run out and buy the book, especially if I'm there to sign them...which brings me to reason number 7.

7. Schedule book signings. I plan on going the local route plus a few key out of town spots, like my hometown in Bridgeport, Ohio, in Columbus, Ohio where all my family now resides, at Lake Kiowa where I used to live and even Denison, TX, where my story takes place. I’ve heard many authors say these aren’t productive, but at least for the first book, I want the thrill. My YaYa sisters have all signed on to be groupies at these and they'd kill me if I decided not to do them. If nothing else, we’ll get nachos and margaritas afterwards! Here’s a funny clip Parnell Hall made about book signings. Check it out.

8. Visit your local bookstores and sign copies. Leave bookmarks in the books and at the counter if the manager allows it. I’ve heard more than once to take goodies for the employees on signing day. A doughnut softens anyone up

9. Send a press release to your local newspapers. I intend to send mine to Ohio, Lake Kiowa and Denison. Surely, someone will think I’m interesting enough to do an interview or a write up on my release. A chapter mate, Wendy Lyn Watson, was on the local morning show not too long ago. She writes mysteries about an ice cream parlor and whipped up a batch on the show. How much free publicity was that!! Of course, I would probably need Valium to do that, but still, it’s a thought.

10. And last but not least, make your next book great, so that after you snag all those new fans with all these hints, you won’t lose them with a crappy sequel.

And there, my friends, lies the stuff that keeps me awake at night!!

So, now I’ve told you what I think about promotion. I’m ready to hear new ways to get more readers. The confident me wants to believe if I can get them hooked on LIVER LET DIE, then BEEF-STOLEN OFF, AND CHICKEN FRIED CORPSE will be shoe-ins!!

I’d better close before the Insecure Lizzy takes over!


Tonya Kappes said...

Oh liz!! Misa Ramirez and I just signed a contract with our promotional and marketing book, Tricked Out Toolbox. We are always being asked how we do it!! I'm so glad to see your post!!!

Liz Lipperman said...

Tonya, mega congrats to both you and Misa. Please give us more info on ordering it and when it will come out.

Care to add a nibble or two here to tickle our interest?

Cassy Pickard said...

Liz: Lots of fun! It's amazing how many skills one needs to exceed in this business. As soon as you begin promoting your book, you have to be half way through writing the next one.

I'd love to hear how folks out there promote. I know there are some incredible ideas.

Great topic. I'll check back and know I will learn a lot.

Edie Ramer said...

Great advice! I do some of that but not all. I was at a library signing and I enjoyed it, even though I didn't have a physical book. I did have a little pamphlet of my 2 first chapter to hand out. That was fun.

Donnell said...

Dear Ms. Lipperman. There should be nothing insecure about you. You are a rock star and so is this blog. Thank you! Love that video. Thanks for sharing!

Clarissa Draper said...

Great list! And I just love that video. Thanks.


Liz Lipperman said...

Cassy, you're so right about already being halfway through the second book (I wish, BTW!) and trying to drum up interest in your first one. There aren't enough hours in the day to do everything you're supposed to for promotion. I guess I'll just pick what works best for me and go forward.

I'm still waiting for NEW ideas, folks.

Liz Lipperman said...

Edie, thanks for stopping by. I'm curious - did you just have your chapters as sheets of paper or did you bind them somehow? And did you think that was effective. I've heard that mentioned as a marketing tool and always wondered about it.

Liz Lipperman said...

Ah, Donnell, thanks for the kind words. And do you have something you want to share with the M & M readers?????

Liz Lipperman said...

Clarissa, thanks for stopping by. The video is funny, but unfortunately, I've heard it is more true than not. And it would just be my luck to be sitting next to someone like MHC!

Lindsay said...

Morning Liz. Once again you've outdone yourself with a top ten. Number 3 though wouldn't work for me. I pay my bills online. I've bought books by several authors you ladies have had on M&M, then turned around and recommended the books to friends. So I guess blogs might work to a certain extent. Another place you might look into getting a review is with John Raab at Suspense Radio. I know the show is good and he has great, like you, authors on to be interviewed.

Donna Cummings said...

Liz, that's the trouble with being blessed with such active imaginations--when we're not working on our stories, we're imagining all kinds of bad things about what happens to those stories!

I think having an excerpt on your website is a great promotional thing. It has influenced me a lot when deciding to try a new author. I have also emailed authors via their website to see if they would like to be interviewed -- I am not a reviewer, but people who go to my blogs like to read so it's a good way to get word-of-mouth for a book and/or author. And I'm always interested in helping out new authors, and hopefully others will feel the same about me when I'm published. :)

Mary Martinez said...

Liz, All great! I took a break from my 'Monday Yahoo Loop Promotion' to read the blog. LOL.

Your local library is a great tool, our chapter has partnered up with the county library system. They're great!

Good luck everyone!

Mary Martinez said...

We appreciate your 'word of mouth' promoting for us also. You're the best!

Laura Morrigan said...

I love the idea of putting bookmarks in the mail to everyone!
Who knows if the person processing my visa bill might be a big reader!
I've also heard of people who put arcs in grocery stores next to books similar to theirs with a "free" sticker on it.
who knows, it might work as a way to grab a new fan!
and maybe you could put bookmarks with the book display, too.

Liz Lipperman said...

Lindsay, tell us more about John Raab at Suspense Radio. That is a great tip.

Liz Lipperman said...

Putting an excerpt on the blog or even on the website is a great idea, Donna.

Several of my firends have asked if AI wanted to guest blog, but until the release date gets closer, it doesn't make sense.

That and the fact I am already woefully behind on Book Two.

Liz Lipperman said...

Mary, and Lindsay, word of mouth is probably number one in importance, and that goes back to writing the best book you can.

Sigh!! As if writing the damn book wasn't hard enough!!

Liz Lipperman said...

Laura, love that you stopped by. I'm not sure I would want to put an ARC in the grocery store, but that got me thinking - why not sprinkle a few bookmarks around there? Put them in Evanovich's and Nora's books?? Brilliant!

Folks, Laura has ventured out into a new profession - she designs book covers, and boy are they fantastic. In this day and age when people are self-pubbing on Amazon and other places, a great cover is key.

Can you tell us a little about that Laura, and give us all the details?

Lindsay said...

To start with John Raab is the Publisher and editor-in-chief for Suspense Magazine which is available in either print or e-format.
He has a blogtalk radio show on Tuesday and Friday evenings-6pm CA time which makes it 9pm CT time. I'll let you figure out what the time would be for you. He interviews authors and does reviews. Since I work at the time the show is on I download the podcast to my iPhone and listen to it later. Usually while driving. And as I mentioned earlier about buying books from some of the authors interviewed here I've gott tips of really great suspense and mystery books from the show.
Matter of fact this Friday while I'm at the New England Crime Bake I'm probably going to lister to the show instead of True Blood.
The radio show is on blogtalkradio. Here is the link to the Suspense Magazine website and then you can follow it to the show.
Liz, does that help.

Kari Lee Townsend said...

Great tips Liz! I've done some of those things, but not all. Hmmm, now you've got me thinking...I've got my work cut out for me :-)

Rochelle Staab said...

Great tips Liz! I know you'll write a Killer second novel and more to come.

Laura Morrigan said...

Sure Liz!

I love graphics and have done favors for friends in the past making up flyers and some promo stuff (cards and, yes, bookmarks!)

Edie Ramer asked me to do Cattitude and, now I've added covers to my list.

Covers are interesting because you have to take a story and boil it down to one interesting image that captures the tone, genre, etc...

I like to have a synopsis and first few chapters to look over before I design a cover. And if the author has an idea, I love to hear it. Or if they can name a few examples of covers they've seen and loved, that helps, too.

In Edie's book, Dead People, the house is central to the story. I felt I needed to find the right house with the twin turrets, like the one in the book, to hit the right note. I send a preliminary rough idea and we tweak from there.

So really, its a collaboration between me and the author. As a writer, I know how important covers are.

hope that answered your question!

Liz Lipperman said...

Lindsay, thanks for the info. I will definitely check out the website and the show. Wonder if he interviews peons like me?

Liz Lipperman said...

Kari, you really need to do these. For those who were on another planet last week and may have missed this, Kari's first book, Fused (see blog front page)came out. I have the copy in my possession and intend on reading it on the plane trip to Boston this weekend. I can't wait.

Liz Lipperman said...

Rochelle, thanks for the vote of confidence. It's easy for someone like you to say. You've probably already got your sequel written....and it probably already won a Rita!!!

Liz Lipperman said...

Laura, thanks for the update. I'm sure a lot of readers out there would love to have you design their cover. I know I would.

Folks, here's her website. If you're looking, I'm telling you, her designs are awesome.

Lindsay said...

Never hurts to ask. Maybe close to time of release of your book. He might also be an interesting interview for the blog

Wolfgang A. Mozart said...

Wonderful tips, Liz. I instructed Mme. Moreno to cut and paste (oh my, how I am picking up the 21st century vernacular!) them into her "Figaro Promotion" file.

We especially love the bookmarks in the Visa bill tip, except that we pay most of our bills electronically.

We have no doubts your second book in the series will be as delicious as your first :)

Marilyn said...

1. I don't hope your book falls in-between. I hope it's a NY Times Bestseller!
2. If you don't have hot and heavy sex scenes, try secondary school author visits. You might even get paid!
3. Do you have any concerns about distributing your book as a Word document? It would be easily forwarded without your knowledge.
4. WV has a Book Festival every year. I'm guessing that other states do, too. Lots of folks who self-publish rent tables. If you published with a state or national house, you might be able to do a workshop and get a signing.
5. After watching Parnell's video, I want to find his books. That's great marketing! ;->

Anita Clenney said...

Hi Liz, I'm late getting here, but these are great tips. I love the one about putting a bookmark in utility bills, etc. I have my website and paranormal romantic suspense writer on my checks. Of course, I don't write a lot of checks.

Liz Lipperman said...

Lindsay, good idea. I'll probably bug you for this info again next summer.

Liz Lipperman said...

Wolfgang, as usual, you are most kind. I appreciate the bot e of confidence.

Putting bookmarks in bills seems to be the most popular of my hints. Thanks you, JA Konrath.

Liz Lipperman said...

Marilyn, those are great ideas. I hadn't really thought about how easy forwarding a Word document would be. With all the piracy on the Internet, one can't be too careful. Thanks for bringing that up and for stopping by.

I don't know how many marketing points I get for today's blog, but I can honestly say I needed the therapy.

Next Monday I'll be talking about the Crime Bake. I cant wait.

Liz Lipperman said...

Ooh, Anita, I love the idea of putting your website on your checks. Since your book is due out before mine, I'll let you pave the way and report back to all of us about what works and what doesn't. Come to think of it, Kari is doing marketing now, so you can use her experiences when it's time for you and Marilyn.

Lindsay said...

Why wait until next year? We can talk about it at the Crime Bake

Tonya Kappes said...

Well thank you Liz!! It's definitely a book that will have a long life!! We help writers start promoting themself and their book from the moment they decide to write, up until their book is on the shelf and beyond. It's a fun go-to promo and marketing guide for every PR personality and budget. Even though we are writers, we are also as different as our books:)