As someone who has tried just about everything, I asked her: What works?
SUSAN: I was at a book party at Otto Penzler’s Mysterious Bookshop after ThrillerFest last year when an author asked New York Times bestselling author Lee Child what publicity works the best. He replied, “Everything works.”
And he’s right. Everything you do to promote your book gets the word out there, whether you are creating a buzz by blogging about your book, doing a media tour or radio interview, signing books at your local bookstore, getting profile coverage in your hometown newspaper or alumni newsletter, or getting your readers to blog about your book by sponsoring a contest as Kyra Davis did for her novel, LUST, LOATHING AND A LITTLE LIP GLOSS (Mira).
Very few authors get on Oprah or the national morning shows, but there is a lot you can do to generate a buzz and build momentum. Word-of-mouth spreads quickly in the book world and has created bestsellers whose authors never saw the light of a national TV studio camera.
HALLIE: So give us your tips. Please!
- TIP #1: Be proactive:
Design a website, create an online presence through Facebook and other social media, let your friends know about your book, and if you hire a publicist, give her every contact you have. It is especially important to target market your book as Craig Reed did. Craig is a former U.S. Navy diver and author of RED NOVEMBER: Inside the Secret U.S. Soviet-Submarine War (William Morrow). Craig set up booksigning events at Navy bases throughout the country, and I complemented his efforts with a media campaign in those cities.
- Tip #2: If you have an interesting back-story, use it:
If you are a novelist with an interesting back-story, you are more likely to get great media coverage than if you simply plug your book. Kyra Davis was in the midst of a messy divorce and bankruptcy when she wrote SEX, MURDER AND A DOUBLE LATTE, the first book in her Sophie Katz mystery series which led to a three-book deal. Reporters and producers loved her inspirational success story.
- Tip # 3: Consider media tours, especially if you are a first time author
Media tours are a great way to get on local TV, which means thousands of people will hear about your book. And you are more apt to get print coverage as well. Steven Raichlen, author of the bestselling THE BARBECUE! BIBLE (Workman) and many other grilling books, does 20-city media tours for all of his books, even after getting on Oprah, The View, The Today Show, Good Morning America and The Early Show and is currently on the road traveling cross country promoting his latest book, PLANET BARBECUE (Workman).
- Tip #4: Radio phoner campaigns are a cost-effective way to maximize media coverage. If you have a limited budget, a radio phoner campaign will reach thousands, if not millions, of readers across the country and you don’t have to leave your home or office. Many people listen to their favorite radio programs or channel-surf on their way to and from work and throughout the day.
- Tip #5: Don’t wait until the last minute to hire a book publicist
Unfortunately, many authors query me after their book comes out which reduces their chances of getting reviews on websites and magazines which have a three-month lead time. Media tours generally take six weeks to book. You want to maximize media coverage when your book is just published, not six months after pub date, when bookstores may have already returned your book to the publisher and it’s no longer current. Have your publicist in place not less than 3 months before pub date.
- Tip #6: Blog, blog, blog
At the New England Crime Bake, a mystery book conference where I spoke, an author said, “I wasn’t born to blog.” But the reality is, even if you have a long-established fan base as this author does, you have to establish an online presence in today’s world. Many readers are getting their content exclusively on the web, and blogging is an easy way to build a fan base.
So in the words of Lee Child, “Everything works.”
HALLIE: Everything? It makes me exhausted just thinking about it. I guess my own experience is a variant of that "You never know what's going to work...so do everything."
Thanks, Susan, for stopping by! Susan will be checking in to answer questions and comments all day today...