It is day two of The Samantha Granger Experiment: Fused blog tour!
Now, Fused came out November 2nd 2010, and I am just now doing a month long blog tour that goes from Jan 10, 2011 until Feb 4, 2011.
This got me thinking about PR campaigns for books.
It's so hard to know what to do as a first time author, but believe me, I have learned a ton after the release of my first book. I plan to implement this knowledge for Tempest in the Tea Leaves: A Fortune Teller Mystery which doesn't release until Aug 2011.
What I basically learned is that a book's first month of numbers is crucial in the success of the book, especially a first book in a series. If you are a debut author, then no one will know who you are or anything about you. So...you need to start at least 6 months early to get your name out there and create buzz.
First of all, do your homework!
Start with the obvious...a website, blog, newsletter, social networks, etc, and actually use them. Make posts about interesting topics, not just your book. Then move on to digging deeper. Find out exactly what your publisher is or is not planning to do for you. Then research a bunch of review sites, especially ones that love the genre you write in. Pat Rouse Rousepat@aol.com has a wonderful list of chain bookstores, independent bookstores, reading groups and book clubs that you can purchase by contacting her at the email above.
After you compile a list, contact those groups. Ones who are interested in reviewing your book often want your ARC 3 to 4 months early. That way they have time to read and post your review "before" your book comes out so people will hear about you and be chomping at the bit to buy your book when it comes out....or if you're really lucky, pre-order your book. Pre-orders are huge because that helps determine your print run.
You can also send out bookmarks to these groups since many people love bookmarks and collect them. RT also has a service where they send out 7000 bookmarks for you to bookstores all over the US. Remember, if someone sees your bookmark and tells someone else, that's how you create buzz...aka word of mouth!
Advertise in relevant magazines, on author promotion sites, and even sites and magazines that have to do with your main character's hobby, career, interest or even just a cool aspect of your book. If it relates to a group of people of any kind, you just might pick up a ton of new readers. Your local library has a book called The Encyclopedia of Associations that has a list of clubs and organizations for all different topics. Post your book banner on reader sites and review sites as well, many offer them for free.
Set up a book tour to start about a week before your book comes out and make it run throughout the whole first month, with guest posts, interviews, fun posts and giveaways. Again, these people will need your book ahead of time to prepare, along with copies of your finished book for giveaways.
When your book does come out, send out a press release to your local media like newspapers, TV, radio, and writing chapters, etc. Any exposure is key, and local people love to support local authors.
Set up booksignings for the first month that your book comes out, especially in your local area. As well as library talks and speaking at schools (if you have a MG or YA). Have bookplates ready and offer them on your website for anyone who buys your book and wants it signed who doesn't live locally. Offer to send bookmarks as well.
Send promo baskets to conferences you can't attend both ahead of time with swag, as well as after your book comes out with actual signed books as giveaways. Then go to your booksignings and bring goodies. And don't forget to stop by all your local bookstores and libraries to network and sign their stock. Again bring goodies.
Then cross your fingers and pray like hell that all your hard work pays off :-)
Good luck! I know it sounds overwhelming, but I hope at least some of my tips have helped you organize your PR Campaign.