This is the third installment in a series on how authors can get free publicity for their books by novelist Diana Forbes.
An old boss of mine once commented to me that I “wouldn’t be there” to sell my work to each and every person who sees it. With all due respect to my former boss, I do not agree!
I honestly feel that I am the best advertisement for my novel. If I can’t sell it, no one can. That’s my attitude.
These are some of the approaches I’ve used while becoming an “ambassador” for my novel, Mistress Suffragette.
Book Buzz Tip 1: Reviews.
I ask anyone who I know for a fact has read my novel to write an honest review for Amazon. When readers specifically write to me about the book to ask me questions, I also ask them to write a review for Amazon. All that said, some readers just don’t want to write reviews for a novel, even when they’ve read it and loved it. Still, it never hurts to ask.
Book Buzz Tip 2: Friends and Acquaintances.
I threw not just one, but several book-launch parties and invited family, friends, neighbors and acquaintances. When I hear that an acquaintance is about to travel to one of the three cities in my novel, I ask them to consider purchasing my novel for their vacation reading. When I go out for dinner with friends, I ask them, “Have you read my novel?” A lot of friends will think nothing of dropping $100 for dinner, but don’t think to buy their friends’ books. I remind them.
Book Buzz Tip 3: Awards.
One of my writing buddies from a writing group I was in recommended that I submit Mistress Suffragette to competitions, and for those I’ve pursued, my novel has done very well.
Novel-writing competitions have three advantages:
- Some award shows will offer you feedback on your work
- You can win awards, making it easier to find an agent and ultimately an editor
- Some publicity often comes with the award
Of course, if you’ve set up strong social media channels, you can make even more of any publicity that you do receive through your own posts and tweets.
I pursue two kinds of awards. The first is the type that gives feedback on my writing. I submit to these to hear the opinions of people whom I don’t know. To me, this is honest feedback, and I try to use it to improve my work. It’s like hearing what the man or woman on the street thinks about my prose. The other kind of award I pursue is the kind that will provide publicity if my novel does well in the competition. It does feel good when my novel wins an award, but it’s not really an ego thing. It’s more the feeling of, “Now my novel will get the recognition it deserves.”
Book Buzz Tip 4: Book Clubs.
Several friends of mine are in book clubs, and I’m trying now to crack this market. Currently I’m working on getting my book into three book clubs, but it’s a bit slow going. I love to speak to readers, and I’ve offered to make a personal appearance in all three cases. This is a wait-and-see endeavor. Please wish me luck!
Book Buzz Tip 5: Libraries.
I was able to get my book picked up by four libraries, and I’m trying right now for a fifth. In some cases I directly asked the library to order my novel. In other cases, readers asked their library to order my novel.
Book Buzz Tip 6: Become an expert in a topic related to your novel.
Positioning yourself as an expert in your novel’s time period (or subject matter) will make you a more attractive candidate to be interviewed on radio shows and talk shows. Reach out to community venues, local or national media outlets, associations, podcasts and other places for speaking or interview opportunities.
My novel is a 19th century comedy of manners that partly takes place in New York. I also grew up in New York and have ancestors stretching back to the time when my novel takes place, so I’ve positioned myself as an historian on all things New York.
Book Buzz Tip 7: Develop guest posts.
Elaborate on themes or subject matter in your novel in 500 to 700-word blog posts and pitch them to the right contacts at the right outlets. Leverage your relationships with decision makers and influencers.
- Pitch them with a short message describing the big idea, the “so what,” or what the post is about or why they should care
- Link your messages to the real world if possible, making them practical and actionable
- Connect your piece to the day’s hot topics and or emerging issues and current events if possible
- Make your posts interesting
I wish you the best of luck with your marketing of your book. Pace yourself. Remember that it’s not a sprint but a marathon. And do your best to have fun with it.
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