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Tuesday, August 17, 2010

New Prevailing Wisdom - Begin at Home

There's been a lot written in blogs, on self-publishing websites and in other media lately about how important it is for self-published authors to build and maintain a professional web presence. Use FaceBook, LinkedIn and Twitter to build your social media platform and get the word out to the world. Join online self- or indie-pub groups to eNetwork.

I agree with all of this advice!

But I also want to remind writers to take advantage of the marketing and promotional resources they have closer to home. And although I haven't seen the article myself, I'm told that Yahoo Infinity Newsletter agrees.

Here's what I have done to try to build a grassroots following for my books in my area of the country:

-- I contacted my local newspaper prior to release of my first book, and have kept them in the loop with various email updates concerning reviews, appearances, accolades, etc. ever since. From this simple effort, my books have benefited from three nice articles -- all with photos -- announcing the publication of my books and describing their plot lines. One article contained an "Interview with the Author" and answered those questions readers might have about why I wrote these books and what was in them for the local readers. The article spanned more than half a page.

-- I also branched out to regional newspapers. I sent signed paperbacks to their book reviewers along with a cover letter detailing why I and my books would be of interest to their readership. I followed each mailing up with an email announcing that the book was on its way and providing web links to book reviews, my website, my author FaceBook page, etc. From this effort I have received two short (8 or so column inches) articles in one regional paper and a promise of a book review from the same paper in the coming weeks.

-- When USA Today online picked up a link to one of my reviews, I emailed all the local and regional papers again to let them know other newspapers were taking notice.

I know . . . you're probably thinking all of the above isn't very creative. And it isn't. But after each article, there was a spike in local sales of my books.

Now I know that my book will not become a best seller strictly on local sales. But it's a place to get people reading your book. And if they like it, maybe they'll tell their friends . . . and so on. It's the kind of thing that used to happen before mass media took over the information channels.

I also have had a couple more ingenious ideas on the local front. Those have borne fruit as well.

-- I emailed one independent reviewer who had read and liked my book to ask if he would consider sending a "Letter to the Editor" of my local paper. I was hoping for something like: "Hey. Check out this local author guy you've got in Red Wing, MN. His books are worth a read." The actual letter that was written turned out to be fantastic! The headline on the Letter as printed in the paper was: "Read a Top Author in Your Midst." Pretty cool. And again, a spike in local sales.

-- I emailed another independent reviewer who liked my books and asked if she might consider allowing my local paper to reprint her review in its Book Review section. She was actually excited at the thought. She edited the review to the length specified by the newspaper and submitted the review to my local paper through me. That review ran this past weekend: "Review: You Must Read Betcher's Latest." I haven't check my local sales outlets, but I'd be willing to bet on another spike in sales. And there was also a spike in visitors to my Author website this weekend. I doubt that was coincidental.

-- I asked yet another independent reviewer if they would consider sending a Letter to the Editor of a Twin Cities newspaper. She was happy to do so. That letter was very complimentary of my books. But the newspaper chose not to run it. HOWEVER, a week or so after the reviewer sent to Letter to the Editor, I received an email note from that newspaper's book reviewer saying that my book was "in her to-be-read pile." Considering the hundreds of books submitted to that newspaper for review every day, I am confident that the Letter to the Editor was instrumental in drawing the newspaper's book reviewer's attention to my book.

-- One other thing I have done is to send emails to successful authors in my geographic area to see if they might be willing to write me a jacket blurb. Most of those emails have (predictably and understandably) gone unanswered. But today, I received an email from one of them with a blurb for my book cover AND a very complimentary email as well. What a mood lifter!

I've run on long enough with this post. You get the idea. Get your book into your local book stores (and arts associations) and let local media know what's going on as often and from as many sources as you can manage. Keep your web presence. But attack from local ground as well. It's a resource well worth pursuing.

That's it for today. Cheers!

John

7 comments:

  1. These are excellent ideas, John! Thanks for sharing them.

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  2. Thanks for stopping by, Belinda. I appreciate your compliment. And I always enjoy your tweets.

    John

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  3. Thanks John! I never know if people are looking at my tweets, I rarely get responses. But I love Twitter too much to leave. :)

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  4. Good ideas about involving local newspapers, John. I looked at your bio and was interested to see that you're a former volleyball coach! I played volleyball in high school and at a Division III school, and it's a wonderful sport. Swimming was my main sport but volleyball was pure fun.

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  5. Good thoughts, John. Plus, the power of word of mouth can be astounding. I like how you are giving it many opportunities to get running.

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  6. Hi Jennifer,

    I LOVE volleyball! I've coached for 10 years at clubs and High School -- ages 11 - 18 girls.

    Fun!

    Cheers!

    John

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  7. Jean:

    Thank you. I figure if I shoot enough directions, I might hit something. even a blind squirrel finds a nut sometimes.

    Cheers!

    John

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