Unpublished Authors Can Promote too!
You may think that book promotions starts when your first book is coming out, but actually book promotions start as soon as you decide to be a published author. If you just institute a few simple systems, you will be prepared to tell the world about your first book, lay the foundation for success for your entire writing career, and get noticed as being a writer long before your first book contract.
Why should you start now instead of waiting until you sign your first contract? After authors have signed a contract with a publisher, first-time authors are often scrambling to get a website up, their mailing lists together, and complete their contracted books, all in a short span of time. A stressful situation, to say the least, overwhelming even. Maybe the author is even caught short financially while they meet all these obligations. Marketing your first book and establishing a name for yourself can be a heady and overwhelming experience.
Like a mighty oak, you can plant the acorn of your success now, before you’re published and let it grow steadily over time, allocating resources in a steady drip.
Why not do all you can to insure your success and start building and growing your success today?!
Choose at least one action from the menu of options, and tailor it to you. This article mentions four options: build your list, write articles, have a blog or site, use social networking. My criterion for choosing what do is based on what is fun for me to do. What is your criterion for choosing what to do?
Establish a Presence
You probably have an expertise besides writing fiction, so you can start being viewed as a writer now. This benefits you internally – you get to see your name in print – and externally: you get to develop a presence and a following. Even without a site, blog, or list, you can write articles for newsletters, your local paper, or blogs. You can start with your local RWA chapter’s newsletter. That’s one of the places where I began writing articles for writers. You can be a guest blogger, or submit articles to article databases like www.ezinearticles.com, and www.ArticlesBase.com. (More information here: http://hubpages.com/hub/Top-10-Article-Directories. )
Your Online Home
Whether you like it or not, nowadays we all need an online presence to be viewed as credible. Create a site that is sticky, meaning you change your content often and invite people to return and see what’s new. This is important because this helps you develop a relationship with your readers. While unpublished in book form, what do you put on your site? The basics: a home page, a bio, about your work, tips for writers, and a contact page. A good example is Vanessa Kier, http://www.vanessakier.com/index.php. Like Vanessa did, you can also repost your articles on your site.
Where does your prospective readership show up online? Go there and start interacting. Lots and lots of your prospective readers are on Facebook. For those of you who hate Facebook, sorry. Facebook is a raging river (as Patrick Swerdtfeger says, author and speaker of Webify Your Business.) You may also want to consider Twitter, Goodreads or MySpace. I recommend you pick an online site that you enjoy, and go there to chat with your friends, reach out to new ones, and share your writing journey, and favorite reads. (I’ve written lots about social networking in this column. Past articles are here: http://writersfunzone.com/blog/?s=promotion+posse.)
Build Your List, And Use It
Author Shelley Adina (the chic shall inherit the earth, Jan 2010, Hachette Book Group) asked me for my mailing address. That was about five years ago. Every time she has a new book coming out I get a pretty postcard in the mail. Many authors prefer to use an email list instead of a mailing list, and have a signup box on their site or blog. Be sure to set up an RSS feed on your blog, too. Be sure to also use your email system (Outlook, Gmail, etc.) to organize and make current all the contact information of the current fans you may not even know you have: your close friends, family, and community acquaintances. You could also use a spreadsheet to keep track of your fans. The important thing is to be collecting folks and adding them to your database. And be sure to ask at your local RWA chapter if you can add them to your reader database, like Shelley asked me years ago.
You don’t need to start your promotional efforts now. Or, you may as well use one of the approaches described here and stick with it over time. After all you probably wrote your book that way. Put down roots, grow your database and writer presence, and grow your mighty oak of fans with care and attention. Then you will be ready when you sign your first book contract to tell all your fans about the good news.
c. 2010 Beth Barany
The Promotion Posse is a monthly column in Heart of the Bay, spotlighting promotional strategies for authors, written by members of SFA-RWA with a knack for PR. You can find author and columnist, Beth Barany, raving about books, authors, and the ever-changing publishing and book marketing world at https://twitter.com/Beth_Barany, and on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/bethbarany.