Monday, July 18, 2011

Promoting Tips From an Award-Winning Author

(If you're here for the Inspiration Blogfest, it's the post below - HERE)

I have the honor of welcoming my dear friend and mentor, p.m. terrell, to share with you about promotions. I’ve admired Trish from day one and have strived to attain her level of grace, poise, and generosity. Watching her put together Book ‘Em NC has been amazing! She knows how to promote - and she’s here to share some tips today.

The most intense adjustment I’ve ever made as an author was making the transition from solitary writer to carnival barker.

When my first book was released, I believed the public would beat a path to my door. All I’d have to do is start writing the next book while the first was flying off the shelves.

Then reality set in.

My publisher’s marketing rep, Wanda, began the long process of educating me on sixty percent of my new job—selling my own books.

When the book is in production, it’s time for the author to start the book buzz. It begins with review copies to all the Usual Suspects.

And for me, it begins with a grassroots effort.

Over the years, I’ve accumulated thousands of contacts—followers on Facebook, Twitter, or my blog; people who have signed up to receive my newsletters; and those who order directly from my website.

My first step is scheduling the book tour. I still do a physical, multi-state book tour because it gives the media in those locations a reason for printing feature articles about me and my book.

I write a series of articles as if I am the reporter interviewing the author. I’ve found that print media rely more on articles they can cut-and-paste than the overhead associated with interviews and unique articles. Thirty to sixty days before I will be in their area, I email the articles to the media in that region. I also attach two high resolution pictures: one of me and one of my book cover. I often arrive in those cities to see articles reprinted verbatim.

In fact, with my historical books, I took that method a step further.

I pulled out a map of a river journey taken by the Donelson party of 1779-1780, the subject of my award-winning book, River Passage. Then I googled the print media along that river route, wrote an opening paragraph on how the book specifically included history of their region, and completed the article with an abbreviated story of the Donelson party’s journey. The results were front page articles spread over a thousand miles.

I also turn to social networking, letting my followers know my next book will soon be released. It’s important to avoid blatant selling. Instead, I mention reviews as they’re released or provide snippets of background on the writing of the book, the plot, and the characters.

As I get closer to the release date, I mail post cards with the book cover and review quotes on the front, and ways to buy the book on the back.

Today’s authors need a platform.

A platform is the author’s stage and how large their audience is. If one percent of that audience purchases the book, would it result in sufficient sales? And if each person who read it enjoys it and tells someone else, would it help to propel the book to a higher status?

Authors at the top of their game have national media to help propel their sales—an appearance on The Today Show, for example, will reach millions. If they’ve already written a bestseller, they have a built-in audience. Their platform is enormous.

When authors are not yet at the top of their game but working their way up, they have to build that platform.

It all comes back to exposure.

I once knew an author who spent $30,000 to advertise one week’s book signings. It was a terrible move. Have you ever turned on the TV, the radio, opened a newspaper and a magazine, all to find one person splashed across it? Now flash forward one week and the person has disappeared. Move forward another month and without a sustained presence, all that publicity has become a distant memory.

And so have the author and the book.

Book publicity is not a sprint. It’s a marathon. Not only do you have to start the buzz, but you must find ways to keep the buzz going and growing.

p.m.terrell is the internationally acclaimed, award-winning author of 12 books, including Take the Mystery out of Promoting Your Book. For more information, visit her website and blog.
And for more information on Book ‘Em NC, visit the official website and blog!

If you ever get a chance, you simply HAVE to meet Trish in person!


  1. Great post, Trish! Such a great picture of y'all together, too. :)

    I've heard stories about authors spending a ton for print or radio ads, too...such a shame! It's easy to promote online for free and supplement that with inexpensive postcards.

    Thanks for the post!

  2. Great tips for promotion! I hope one day I can put them to good use :)

  3. Marathon - I'm in it for the long haul!

  4. Diane, thank you so much for having me on your blog today! I feel like I'm visiting old friends.

    Elizabeth, you are absolutely correct. One reason I write feature articles is I've found they get attention while paid advertisements are often passed over.

    Jemi, I hope the tips help when the time comes!

    And Alex, I am learning a lot from you and your Internet presence!

  5. AnonymousJuly 18, 2011

    Excellent information Trish...I think we tend to make promotion a big dark shadow in the closet where we're kind of afraid to go! But it doesn't have to be tough - it takes imagination. This you have in abundance. Great blog.

    Pam Kimmell

  6. Thanks for dropping by, Pam! Yes, I am afraid sometimes I have too much imagination! :)

    Diane, thanks again for this great opportunity!

  7. Thanks Diane for hosting Trish - this was a very helpful post. I'm going to put it in my faves for when I need it.
    Jan Morrison

  8. Wonderful tips, Trish. There are so many options open to writers looking to promote their books, many of them cash sinks with little or no return. This is great advice and like Jemi, I hope I get the opportunity to put it into play.

  9. Thanks for the great information. It's so hard for me to promote my work. I'm saving this to remind me of new things to do.

  10. Thank you for all the comments! I actually learned the trick of writing my own "Features" article from the Features editor of a local newspaper. That advice turned out to be invaluable. I wish you all the best on promoting your work!

  11. Thanks for all the tips I could have done with tips 3 yrs ago when I self published my book. I have just found out by accident that my book is on Ebay .......with a different IBSN NUMBER, the seller has 10 new books to sell whereas all mine are accountged for, according to the ISBN OFFICE there may be a case of "Book Copying" plus they were selling at a much dearer price.
    Your tips are invaluable. Thanks.


  12. Yvonne, you've brought up an interesting point. Communism does not honor copyrights; they believe all work belongs to everyone. With so many books being printed in China - and I don't know if yours was, but red flags went up as I read your post - How do any authors know the printers are not making additional copies of their books and selling them with a different cover and/or ISBN? There's no recourse if that happens with overseas printers, because they aren't bound by our copyright laws.

  13. Great info, thanks so much! Thanks also for the intro to Trish. She sounds like a great lady. :)

  14. Thank you, Karen! My goal in life is to impact everyone I meet in a positive way, so I greatly appreciate your comment! Thanks for stopping by!

  15. These are wonderful tips for us to remember. I think you're right about promotion taking 60% of our time. I don't think we realize that when our novel is finished. Thanks for your expert advice.

  16. I've been gone all day so this is the first chance I've had to get over here. I'm glad I did.

    Trish, I like the common sense approach to promotion. Sometimes it's a matter of thinking about the content of your books and how to garner attention by using those tidbits. I thought the idea of contacting media along the trail the Donelson party took a fabulous idea. And this sort of thing, aside from social media, is why the figure of 60% of an authors time is spent in promotion. So make it count.

    The other point I really liked, and have seen before, is promotion is a marathon, not a sprint. As a marathon runner, there is a lot of training involved and a lot of small steps to do before you run. So this is a great way to put it.

    Thanks for sharing this!

    Sia McKye's Thoughts...OVER COFFEE

  17. Terrific advise...

    Thanks so much.

  18. Congratulations on your impressive achievements. Your efforts and success are inspiring.

  19. AnonymousJuly 19, 2011

    I think the in-person book tours are a must. Also, above, the postcard idea. Great post, Trish!

  20. Thanks, everyone, for stopping by!

    LynNerd, I agree - the 60% in promotion took me by surprise, too. And I've found it doesn't matter whether you're with a small or large publisher; they all expect the same level of promotional commitment.

    Sia, I'm glad you liked the idea about tracing the Donelson party's journey and contacting media along the route. Since that time, I've begun looking at each book as I write it to forecast which markets I can heavily market in.

    Jackie, thank you so much for your kind words. I truly appreciate it!

    And Karen,thanks for stopping by! I truly get weary of the travel, but you're right, there's nothing like meeting fans in person. It goes a long way in establishing my "brand" - and that's what each author ends up being!

  21. This is a very informative and useful post...I really liked the bit about writing one's own interview questions and answers :)

  22. What a lovely blog on PM. I've long been an admirer. And of our own L. Diane. (-:

  23. Great guest post and I'm forwarding the link to a friend who needs this info.

    Thanks to both of you.
    Jules @ Trying To Get Over The Rainbow

  24. Thanks, Jules - Trish knows her stuff!

  25. 'Book publicity is not a sprint. It’s a marathon.'

    So true, we have to keep at it, otherwise our book disappears before people even know it's there.