Thursday, June 16, 2011

Book Promo - Traditional and 21st Century - with Elizabeth Spann-Craig

Today I am delighted to welcome Elizabeth Spann-Craig and her tips for book promotion! Be sure to follow the link below for her latest book, Finger Lickin' Dead.

Book Promo—Both Traditional and 21st Century Methods-- by Elizabeth S. Craig

Marketing a book can feel really overwhelming.  After all, authors have already slogged through writing the book, editing it, querying it, and working through editorial revisions.  Now they’re faced with promotion.

But there’s really a marketing approach for everyone.  And there’s both a traditional way to promote a book, and a more modern approach via social media.

Traditional Book Marketing: 

Postcards:  I know several authors who really use postcards to their advantage.  They do an amazing job sending postcards to book clubs in the area (this is a list built up over years), a reader mailing list (readers who, obviously, asked to receive promo material for new releases), and independent bookstores.  I’ve sent them, myself, to libraries’acquisitions departments to ask if they could order my books.

If you’re sending your postcards to bookstores and libraries, be sure to mail out early.  Most places do their ordering months ahead of a release.  Postcards should have your name, the book’s name, the publisher’s name, the ISBN number, the price of the book, the release date, book cover, and—if possible—a short review snippet if you’ve gotten one.

For a listing of libraries, go to, which searches libraries for content worldwide. You just plug in your book’s name, hit the search button, and find the results. For a listing of public libraries, go to Public You’ll get physical addresses, phone numbers, and websites (from which you can get the library’s email address).

Bookmarks:  Bookmarks are very useful promotional tools for handing out at signings or leaving at bookstores or libraries (ask first). You can either design your own on Microsoft Publisher (which comes with Microsoft Office) and have a copy shop print and laminate them, or you can use an online printer like Iconix or Print Place.

Signings:  Signings are my least-favorite way to promote my book, I’ll admit.  But you can definitely increase your sales during signings by a few different approaches.  First, you shouldn’t sit at the little table that the store provides you—stand next to it, instead.  Next, don’t wait for folks to approach you (that could take a while.)  Ask the store’s patrons if they’d like a bookmark and hand them out as they come in the store. Most of them will ask, “Is this your book?”  You should also consider having a bowl of candy on your table to entice people closer to your table.

Panels/Lectures:  Talking on a panel or being a guest lecturer at a library is an easy way to promote your book.  Usually I try not to travel too far for these events, or else the costs outweigh the benefits.  After your talk, the event hosts will usually have a table set up where you can sell books.  Shy about speaking or not sure how to prepare?  Diane had some fabulous tips about preparing for a speaking engagement recently on the Marketing Tips for Authors blog.

21st Century Book Marketing:

Twitter: I’m definitely a fan of Twitter.  Not only are there a lot of writers there, there are booksellers, librarians, and book bloggers who tweet.  It’s a great place to make connections…and no, it’s really not about what you ate for breakfast that morning.  You could start out by just tweeting three times a day—once to tweet an industry-related news story (like a GalleyCat post), once to re-tweet a friend’s blog post or tweet, and once to call attention to your last blog post.

Facebook/Goodreads:  Facebook is a great way to make connections.  Not only is it a good place to engage casually with other writers, readers have lately seemed to really flock to the application.  It’s the best tool for interacting and developing a relationship with your readers.  If you’re interested in posting a giveaway for your new release (which is a great way to get the word out), you should think about using Goodreads as a host, since Facebook’s new rules ban mentioning contests on the site.

Blogging/Blog Tours: Book tours are expensive, but other than the cost of your internet connection, blog tours are free! I love blog tours. You get a chance to interact with a different group of readers, the blog host gets a chance to take a short break, and your book’s hits on Google go up. It’s important to be organized with blog tours—know where you’re supposed to be and confirm it with the host a couple of times. Be sure to check in with comments during the day. You’ll want the tour to be long enough to be noticed, but not so long that blog tour fatigue sets in (for you and your readers.)

Book Trailers: This is an area that I haven’t explored personally, but I know several people who have gotten a lot of extra exposure through their book trailers.  Jane Friedman hosted Darcy Pattison on her blog and Darcy had some fantastic tips about using trailers effectively.

Have you launched a book?  What worked for you?  Or, what have you seen other writers do with promo that you thought worked well?

Bio:  Elizabeth’s latest book Finger Lickin’ Dead released June 7th.  Elizabeth writes the Memphis Barbeque series for Penguin/Berkley (as Riley Adams), the Southern Quilting mysteries (2012) for Penguin/NAL, and the Myrtle Clover series for Midnight Ink. She blogs daily at Mystery Writing is Murder, which was named by Writer’s Digest as one of the 101 Best Websites for Writers for 2010 and 2011.
Writer's Knowledge Base--the Search Engine for Writers
Twitter: @elizabethscraig


  1. Thanks so much for hosting me today, Diane! I'm looking forward to hanging out at Spunk on a Stick. :)

  2. You're welcome and happy to be part of your book tour!

  3. I'm all in favor of blog tours! How does one go about finding book clubs though?

  4. AnonymousJune 16, 2011

    Diane - Thanks so much for hosting Elizabeth.

    Elizabeth - Thanks for sharing your experiences with book promos. I like the bowl of candy idea :-). I've found that online promotion is really successful for me. Besides your excellent tips (I'm a big fan of blog tours!!! ), I encourage authors to consider setting up an author page with Amazon's Author Central. It's free, it's easy, and Amazon is such a magnet for book buyers that you're more likely to be noticed. You can upload interviews, events and videos there, too.

  5. I love these comparisons. I think of them often. If you can do them all, I certainly would for two reasons. They are there to use and because you will touch all generations.

  6. I forgot my manners. Thanks, Diane, for hosting the marvelous Elizabeth!

  7. AnonymousJune 16, 2011

    I also like the idea of by blog tours. It is a win situation for the host and the author. These are all great tips and I shall be forwarding!

  8. Elizabeth, great tips. I can understand how book signings would be least-favorite. Your tips would also make it easier for a book buyer to approach you. Some readers may feel hesitant about meeting an author.

    Diane, thanks for hosting Elizabeth.

    Thoughts in Progress
    Freelance Editing By Mason

  9. So interesting to read with plenty of ideas Thanks very much.

    Have a nice day.

  10. Love these marketing tips (and will hopefully have to use them someday)!

  11. Thank you Elizabeth. Your post is full of great advice -- with links! And thank you Diane for hosting her.

  12. I enjoyed reading these tips. My husband suggested that when (if) I get published, I should do a book signing in the concourse of Atlanta's airport--plenty of foot traffic there! I've also noticed several book signings at our local grocery store.

  13. Super tips that I will print. I enjoyed being here. Coffee was great too. :-) Thanks ladies.

  14. Ha! Great list of stuff! And your Twitter recommendation makes it look almost manageable! (I have been so timid diving in there)--and i didn't know FB had new rules on contests!

    I'm bookmarking this one. Thank you, ladies!

  15. I like how you divide the segments into Traditional & 21st Century Book Marketing. It's difficult to use a paper bookmark on your Kindle or Nook! But I can see how the traditional methods will still work--especially for bookstores & libraries.

  16. Diane--Thanks!

    Alex--There are a few ways that I've found helpful. One is by contacting the chain bookstores and libraries in your area (they are frequent hosts for book clubs). Another is to put on your website that you have questions for book clubs and will Skype with book clubs for free (and this is me just observing what others have done...I haven't Skyped with clubs yet). Another is by contacting all the subdivisions that have clubhouses...they frequently host neighborhood book clubs. :)

    Margot--Very good point! And Amazon is starting to really be the go-to place for readers to make connections with authors and find new series to explore.

    Teresa--Thanks! I think there's something to be said for both approaches. :)

    Lynn--Thanks so much! I love blog tours--for economic reasons and because it's hard for me to go on a physical tour and leave my children.

    Mason--I think most writers feel so self-conscious about signings that they're probably communicating mixed messages to the bookstore shoppers! Handing out bookmarks is an easy way to make contact.

    welcome to my world of poetry--Thanks for commenting. :)

    Jess--Hope you will, too!

    Helen--Thanks for coming by!

    Tamara--I think that sometimes different types of venues can work well. I've signed at arts festivals with some success. And, if your book has a particular angle, you could set up signings with that angle in mind (I've got a quilting series debuting next year, and I could make appearances at guild meetings or bees. :) )

    Robyn--I think I'll have another cup of that coffee! :)

    Hart--Facebook changes everything practically daily! You know how that goes. And Twitter is easy to have a presence on, for sure.

    notesfromnadir--They will, and there's still something to be said for them. But we're quickly moving into a whole new world of book promo! I saw an app the other day that allows readers to have their Kindles "signed."

  17. Thanks for stopping by everyone. Elizabeth knows her stuff!

  18. I'm a big fan of 21st century marketing. I did use some postcards for my first non-fiction book, but I achieved nowhere the same impact as when I used social marketing.

  19. Awesome tips! thanks so much for posting!

  20. Thanks so much for all the great tips. I need to bookmark this!

  21. Diane--Thanks again!

    Talli--That's what I found, too. I felt like the postcards did help with library acquisition, but social media trumped everything that I tried.

    Summer--Thanks for coming by!

    Karen--Hope the tips help!

  22. I feel like I got a good idea now on how to handle the 21st century promotion now. It's the traditional set that will be the biggest challenge for me when it comes time for my book to be published.

  23. Jeffrey--And the traditional approach is usually the most time-consuming part. Social media *can* of course, be a big time-suck, but timers help.

  24. This is such a great overview. Packed with information, too. Book clubs would be a fantastic resource. I'll start looking in the paper for local ones and start collecting a list.

    I can attest to the importance of candy at book signings. (And how difficult they are.) I always bring chocolate. People may buy out of guilt, but they do buy.

    And anybody who wants to know how to use Twitter should just follow Elizabeth and pay attention. Last time I checked, she a higher Klout rating than Nathan Bransford. She's the Queen of all Social Media!

    She's got a post over at my blog on how to blog that's a must-read.

    Blog tours are win/win. This one got me over here to Diane's blog. Thanks for hosting and I'll be back!

  25. AnonymousJune 17, 2011

    Postcards - I did it. Had the cards printed with my contact info., my services. Then hand-wrote the names/addresses. A bit of a time suck, but it has produced a bit of work (and a person can tuck a card into a file in their desk!). Enjoyed the blog portion about having a successful signing - good tips!

  26. It takes both to succeed.

    Anne, I've always used candy at signings, although usually Tootsie Rolls, as they are cheaper than chocolate. Hope you'll be back, because promoting is the focus of my blog!

    Karen, I admire the time you took to hand-write those cards.

  27. Anne--Thanks so much! Candy really is a must and will bring over children in a second (and their parents, who have the pocketbooks.:) ) And thanks for all the kind words. Twitter is one of my favorite apps!

    Karen--You know, handwriting can really stand out in this computerized day and age. I bet it may have really helped make your cards stand out.