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Friday, December 7, 2007

Book Promotion on a Budget

It's a Hollywood fallacy that your publisher handles all the promotion for you. Unless you're Nora, Rowling or Clancy, you're pretty much on your own.

With that in mind, I have been mulling over several ideas to promote my upcoming book, TOUCH OF FIRE. With the help of my friends, I've come up with a few notions.

My mission has been to find unique and cost effective outlets to promote my book --outlets that will not suck the marrow out of my bones. It's not easy.

I know a couple of people who have hired professional PR people. I won't be going that route. Instead, I will depend on my inherent skills, be they what they may.

It helps that I'm a designer, so I have a good grasp of what constitutes a snappy looking layout. But I won't be shelling out big bucks for promo cards and bookmarks.

Samhain is supposed to be good about lining up reviewers, but I'll also be keeping an eye out for people who aren't on their radar.

Contests are another option. I had a nifty idea for a treasure hunt (thank you, Mike) since part of the story deals with a man who is a scavenger for ancient treasure. I'm on the fence about this one because it will require people to read the book. I'm not sure this will work, unless I can generate enough buzz for the prize. But it's on my list.

So what's on my list of possibilities?

• wrangle as many reviews as I can.
• stop lurking and participate more in writer/reader loops
• offer writer workshops in my particular field of expertise (design)
• create a contest with a very unique prize.
• blog tours
• excerpts
• a quarterly newsletter
• chats
• guest blogger on other blogs
~if you have a writing blog, invite me, please!
• attend one or two conferences if money and time allow

You'll notice I did not list bookmarks, pens, promo cards, candy, key fobs, calendars, seed packets or dog food lids.

I will have a few business cards printed if I'm at a conference, but for the most part my promotional efforts will take up my time rather than my wallet.

On a private writers' loop, I asked the group what they thought compelled them to buy a book. Reviews and excerpts seemed to head the list.

Hand-selling motivates me to buy. If the author takes the time to talk to me, I almost always buy the book. I was at a conference a year ago where a "name" author took me by the arm and shoved her promo card in my hand. She pitched the premise of her book by touting the things she thought I was interested in. I am sure she had watched me for a moment as I was browsing the advertising paraphenalia for the paranormal titles, so she pitched the paranormal angle of her book. I bought the book.

Another author also stopped to talk to me. (Evidently, I must be very easy to talk to.) I would have bought his books, but he gave me both of them as a gift. He felt that as long as his books were being read, he didn't care to make that immediate sale. His thinking is that if his first book appealed to the reader, she'll come back and read subsequent books. Makes sense, though I think if it were me, I might have offered the first book and encouraged the reader to buy the other one. Interesting note: I liked the writing of the free books better than the one I paid for. And he was right. I did buy his next book.

That's my strategy so far. I have a couple of other ideas that require big business sponsorship. The story has slim but important tethers to major commercial connections. I didn't write it that way. That's just the way it turned out. I didn't even notice it until one of my crit partners pointed out the commercial possibilities.

**Anybody out there know Robert Iger of Disney? Have I got a project unlike anything Disney has ever done before!


Dorothy said...

Since you mention wanting to do it on your own and not hire outside help, that leaves us out, haha...but, Maria, I also offer a few blogs for author interviews and guest posts whenever anyone wants to go it alone because I really support that. There are a lot of authors who come to us who don't know how to go about getting interviews, reviews, what they hire us, but honey, if you want to do it on your own, more power to you! One such blog is called Beyond the Books. Anytime you would like to be interviewed, shoot me an email at thewriterslife(at) I fully support independent promoters!

Dorothy Thompson
CEO/Founder Pump Up Your Book Promotion

Maria Zannini said...

Thank you, Dorothy! This is wonderful news. I will be sure to get in touch wth you in the coming months.

Thanks again, and welcome!

Heather B. Moore said...

Hey, I'd love to interview you for one of my blogs. Or have you guest blog. Your choice. The only thing I'd change on your marketing list is to have bookmarks printed. I really think this helped me. I'd stop by stores, sign their stock and ask if I could place bookmarks in other books. 99% of the time they let me. I'd put my bookmarks in similar bestselling books so it would go directly into my target customer's hands.

Maria Zannini said...

Oh now you're in trouble. LOL! Thanks, Heather.

We'll talk more when I get closer to the debut. And I'll take the bookmarks under advisement. You have more experience with this than I do.

Thanks much!