The necessary evil: 5 promotion ideas that work

Posted on: March 10, 2016, by :

As my release date nears, I am gearing up to do my least favorite part of being a writer: promotion.

It’s not that I don’t love talking about my work, I do. It’s just that when you think about being a Writer, you never sit around thinking, “Gee, I can’t wait to figure out what hashtags are best for a sci-fi audience.” No, you’re thinking about how you’re going to find time to write. You’re plotting out scenes and developing characters. Promotion is not something you consider.

But it’s the most important part of being a writer.

(Okay, it’s the most important part after the writing part. But I digress.)

What I’m trying to say is, promoting yourself and your books is a vital part to any author’s success. Here are five things I found to be particularly useful for promoting yourself and your books.

  1. Virtual Book Tours – These seem to be a staple in book releases these days and for good reason. I’m lucky that my publisher (Interlude Press) organizes my VBT for me, but if you’re self-published or otherwise without a VBT, you can take matters into your own hands. If you’re willing to start small, you can organize your own VBT by finding blogs that review books in your genre or will let you do a guest post. It’s a lot of work but it could find you some great new readers. If you’re willing to spend some money, you can hire someone to solicit those tour stops for you. IP uses Pride Promotions, but there are a few good ones out there. Just look at the blogs you love and you’ll see that lots of those authors use these services.
  2. Twitter – Look, it’s the 21st century. You have to use social media. It’s a must-do for any writer these days. You should also be on Facebook, but I’m not mentioning that here because I find Twitter to be more useful for starting conversations and making introductions. It’s much easier to @ reply to someone’s tweet than to try to start a conversation on a FB thread—and less intrusive. There’s also the benefit of hashtags. People still use hashtags to search on Twitter and it means that people can actually find you. Every time I use #amwriting or #amediting, I pick up at least one new follower. Get to know the hashtags in your genre, follow some people who tweet a lot about things you’re interested in and start tweeting. It’s easier than you think to build up an audience on Twitter.
  3. Conferences/Conventions – Look, I know cons are expensive, but they can be invaluable if you do it right. This year will be my second at the RT Convention and what I’m looking forward to most is networking and learning from successful authors. Last year I went in expecting to get a lot of new readers, and while I’m sure I picked up a few, I realized that the convention was much more useful to me as a tool for learning. This year, I have a plan, and while I’m looking forward to the Giant Book Fair so I can meet some readers, what will be the most productive part for me is time spent learning how to be a Published Author, rather than a writer. There’s a difference, and it’s all to do with self-promotion.
  4. Book Clubs – This is a new one for me, but for In The Present Tense, I’m hoping to get some book clubs to read my book. By making yourself available via Skype or in-person, you can really offer an extra incentive for the group to choose your title as an upcoming month’s selection. If you’re interested in offering ITPT as your book club’s selection, let me know. IP offers bulk discounts.
  5. Swag – This point is related to number 3. When attending cons, bring swag. It doesn’t have to be fancy or expensive. It just needs to be useful or fun. This year I’m doing buttons. But trust me when I say you’ll get more readers stopping at your table if you have something for them to take with them. And don’t forget postcards or business cards. Maybe that reader isn’t ready to make a purchase the moment they meet you. That’s fine. Give them a reminder about your book and the chance to buy it later.

So, what are your self-promotion techniques? Anything I missed?

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