Saturday, September 8, 2012

Think Outside the Box: Death to the Introvert

Writing is solitary. You do it alone. You generate characters, worlds, and stories from your imagination. It’s creative. You are considered an artist. It’s a pretty good feeling. I love it, the writing process. I treat it like brushing my teeth. Stick to a routine. You get yourself into a habit of writing, and it becomes second nature. Mornings work well for me. Make my coffee. Turn on my laptop. Pop buds in my ears. Put on Pandora. And begin.

However, writing is only one hat an author can wear. It’s not like decades ago. Writers wrote. Publishers not only published, they handled marketing, advertising and public relations. Budgets existed. Those days are gone. Wouldn’t make sense to hold your breath. I believe now that most publishers pushed marketing, advertising and public relations off their plate and onto the laps of writers, there is little chance they will ever take on that responsibility again. But that’s just me. You want to cross your fingers, cross ‘em. Holding your breath, that just seems risky.

I’ve always said, “Writer’s write because they love to tell stories, while getting published is icing on the cake.” Now that a book has been published (which is no easy feat), the hard part begins. Generating sales. Sales are important for one main reason. And that reason has nothing to do with making millions of dollars. In fact, if you write because you think you are going to make millions – you might as well go back to holding your breath.

I’ve done hundreds of book signings. For the release of each novel, I tend to schedule anywhere from ten to fifty signings a year. At each signing, I may sell anywhere from zero to forty copies. Many days I sat at a table and stared at my pen, or directed customers to the calendar aisle and restrooms. It’s a tough, but necessary gig. Below I am going to elaborate on six (6) ways to market and advertise your novel in a non-obnoxious way:

Book Signings. Book signings with chain AND independent book stores in your area and surrounding counties. Generally, give yourself an 80-90 mile radius. Gas is expensive, but the exposure is convenient. Once the signing is booked, create several 8x11 flyers advertising the book/date/time of the event, and send them directly to the bookstore to be hung for a month prior to your event.

Print/Web Notifies. Once you have several book signing events booked, generate a press release that contains the book’s info, a synopsis, and your contact information. Send it to big and small newspapers in the areas of the stores you will be visiting. See if you can obtain an actual contact, and “force” an interview, or blurb to be included in an edition near or on the day of your event. Be sure to also check those newspaper websites, many have a Calendar of Events page. And many will let you list your event, free. (Key word there, free).

Radio. Same as Number 2 – but contact ANY and all radio stations. Do not shy away from college stations. They are often very receptive to author interviews.

Sample Chapters. Take your 1st two chapters, the book’s back cover synopsis, order information and your bio/website and make a two to three page booklet (folded over 8x11—with a saddle stitch – or two staples at the center). Then what do you do with these booklets? No. That is so not the question. The question is, what DON’T you do with these booklets! Leave them at doctor/dentist office waiting rooms, airplane seat pockets, thumb tacked on cork boards – I don’t know, be creative. I’m just giving you tips. Not doing your marketing/advertising for you :-)

Target Audience. My most recent novel is a vampire story. In my area there is a giant walk-thru haunted mansion. Runs from September to the end of October. I am working to coordinate a book signing, or several signings at his location in an empty warehouse. My target audience is the crazy people willing to pay money to get the heck scared out of them. I also have a novel coming out about a Little League Baseball player. Come the spring, I will be trying to schedule events at the Double A ball park, and have copies of the book sold at Little League concession stands.

Social Media/Twitter/Blogging. I am going to guess I don’t need to explain too much here. However, if using Facebook, be sure to set up a separate author page from your main, personal account. Invite people to “Like” that author page. This ensures you don’t annoy family and friends with endless posts begging people to buy your book. (I still bug them. I don’t care. Want to delete me, feel free). Make sure you link your FB/Twitter/Blog accounts, so that when you write a new blog, it is automatically pulled and posted onto your other accounts.

I will be writing more on obtaining reviews, endorsements, and speaking engagements. 

As always, take care and best wishes!

Phillip Tomasso

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