We had a similar question from two different authors: one has self-published a book of poetry and the other, Stephen D. Rogers, has had a short story collection published by a small publisher. They both wanted to know what they should be doing to boost publicity for their books.
And boy, did you come up with some great ideas for them!
The first to reply was Leona Wisoker. She said: "How funny that you asked this particular question! I just posted a blog piece on the topic of 'networking at conventions,' which your questioning authors might find helpful; it's aimed at people attending sci-fi/fantasy conventions but can easily be turned to any type of convention: http://leonawisoker.wordpress.com.
"Besides that, however, I would suggest beginning with analysing the target audiences. The short stories, for example: are they mainstream fiction, fantasy, science-fiction, romance, mystery? Are the target readers teenagers, adults, retired folk? Is the setting in America? If so, which state? Which decade/century? Each of these questions offers another clue to opportunities.
"Mystery and history buffs as well as fantasy/sci-fi geeks frequently gather in numbers at events around the world, a perfect opportunity to meet people predisposed to interest in your writing.
"Social networking sites such as Facebook can connect the author with potential readers.
"Calling your local paper to see if they want to run an interview (local writer done good), or the local papers in the areas where the stories are set, can't hurt. There are also internet-based radio stations that love to run new author interviews, such as Artist First (http://www.artistfirst.com/perceptivemarketing.htm).
"Talk to your local colleges, high schools, and middle schools about offering a reading of your work; poetry may find favor with ongoing outreach programs at middle schools especially.
"Find bloggers who routinely review similar books, and offer them a free copy of your book (ask before sending it, though!); they will run an honest review, and if they like your book they'll often ask you for an interview on top of that.
"Build a web site and blog, talk about events you've attended, further explore the topics of your writing, the process of writing, self-publishing, small-press publishing, research, and so on. Offer web-only excerpts for readers to enjoy.
"Most important, keep a record of what you've tried, the dates, all contact information, and notes on what worked, what didn't, and as much of why as you understand why things did or didn't work. That record is more valuable than gold in the long run."
Thanks for the advice, Leona. That seems a pretty comprehensive list. But there were more suggestions too.
"There's quite a lot that writers can do to self-promote their books," wrote Margaret Fieland. She suggests:
The Internet seems to keep cropping up in readers' advice for book promotion; in fact the advice "get a website" came up so many times that it would be boring and repetitive to list them all here.
Making use of the local media is another excellent suggestion, but there are other ways to promote sales too, as Joyce Frohn observes. She wrote: "No matter what you're doing on the Web, don't forget to use your feet. Check with local bookstores, local writer's groups and even try this unusual method of book promotion. One local author here in Oshkosh sells copies of local stories at the farmer's market and is making good sales."
Our last piece of advice on this topic comes from someone who has been in a similar position. Barb Demming is the writer of three books, two are short story collections and one is a memoir--all self-published.
"I have been selling the memoir for over five years so something is going right. However, I must admit that without a traditional publisher, it is a tough sell. Here are some of the things I have done to market:
I hope that helps all of you who are looking for ways to promote your books!
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