Free Publicity For
Although your mind tells you that you're an author and not a publicity agent, the reality is that yours is only one among hundreds of books being offered just this season! You are competing for limited bookshelf space in bookstores. Also keep in mind that bookstores are not the only places to sell books. In fact, only 15% of all books are sold in stores created to do this job. This is partly due to the short shelf life books are given in commercial bookstores. Bookstore research shows that the average book stays on sale for only three to six months before being bumped from the shelves by a newer hopeful.
So how are the other 85% of books sold? In a variety of ways, all of which depend on getting the word out. Here are some proven tactics for successful self-promoting. Remember, the key is to obtain as much FREE publicity as possible through interviews, news mentions and book reviews, Be sure to note the correct timing for each of these efforts.
Create a short, snappy press release along the lines of "Local Writer to Publish New Book." Include basic data such as publisher, price, date of publication and a phone number for further information.
About two months before publication, mail the announcement to local stores, radio and TV stations, newspaper reviewers ~ to anyone who might order and/or want to read the book. Chain stores and book distributors (listed under "Independent Distributors" in the Yellow Pages) should be high on that list.
At publication time, follow up with actual copies of the book and an updated release. Make yourself available for interviews, book signings and calls for further information.
Make up a flier about your book, including a picture of the cover. The flier doesn't have to be fancy; it can be in black and white (though you could dress it up by printing on colored paper). At the bottom of your flier, print a tear-off order coupon which offers a free reading or review copy and quantities at a discount. Mail this to potential buyers, including:
Bookstores, especially those specializing in your subject;
Libraries (the second largest book buyers in the U.S., spending more than a billion dollars a year on books;
Catalog companies (there are nearly 10,000 ~ choose the logical ones from a source such as Catalog of Catalogs at your public library);
Wouldn't it be nice if someone bought a million copies of your book for use as a premium? Look at magazines such as Incentive Marketing, Potentials in Marketing and Premium Incentive. They'll teach you how to pursue this market.
Special interest individuals, organizations, associations, corporations, museums, specialized stores, etc.
Reviews provide the greatest sales impetus of anything you can do. Reviews are worth your greatest efforts. More than 40,000 books are published every year in the U.S. Fewer than 10% of them are reviewed. You will have to be timely, persistent and willing to make an investment in this endeavor if you are to succeed.
As far in advance of publication as possible, mail copies of your new book (galley copies if possible ~ they're less expensive) to trade magazines and large newspapers as well as to local newspapers and other reviewers. Send out as many as you can afford. Ideally, this should be done several months before your publication date because reviewers and columnists need reading time. Get these copies directly from your printer. Reviews often contain words of praise for your book which then can be included in your further publicizing efforts. Short quotes from several reviews look especially good on the back of your book's dust jacket, serving as an endorsement.
Use the Web:
Be absolutely sure to spread the word electronically throughout the world. Most ISPs (Internet Service Providers) include a small amount of free web space in their user dial-up account agreements, however some have rules that restrict commercial advertising in non-commercial web space. Tell about your book and about you, the author, and create links to other sources (to amazon.com, for instance, if you are listed with this electronic bookstore where, with a mere click of the mouse, people can purchase your book). Once you have your home page up and running, be sure to register your page(s) with all of the major search engines (Yahoo, Infoseek, Alta Vista, Webcrawler, Netfind, etc.) so anyone searching the web will be able to find your site and learn about your book.
The extent of free publicity available to you is limited only by your time and imagination. None of these steps is beyond your ability, and each of them is invaluable for generating publicity that will put your book before the public eye.
Patrika Vaughn is the world’s leading Author’s Advocate. Over the past 25 years she has served as a professional writer, ghostwriter, editor, publisher, literary agent and teacher of creative writing. She is also a Marketing and Public Relations Consultant, serving business, industry, non-profit corporations and individual authors. Her works have appeared in more than 100 national publications and she is listed in The International Authors and Writer's Who's Who. The above article is an excerpt from her book, Everything You Need to Know to WRITE PUBLISH & MARKET YOUR BOOK. This book, plus her audiobooks and online classes, are available at www.acappela.com.
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