Monday, March 21, 2016

Get the Word Out! The Importance of Book Promotion

I had the privilege a few days ago of spending a delightful hour visiting with fellow mystery author, friend, and mentor, J. Michael Orenduff. Mike is the author of The Pot Thief mystery series which combines mystery, humor, and some archaeology and New Mexico history to make a rollicking good read! Mike was in Ruidoso, NM at Books, Etc. to promote his latest Pot Thief mystery, "The Pot Thief Who Studied Georgia O'Keefe" and we took some time to catch up on each other's writing endeavors.

One thing we talked about was book promotion. And this is one topic that writers share information with each other about. I related a story about one woman at the Tucson Festival of Books who spoke with me and fellow OTP author, Janet (J. L.) Greger, about how she wanted to write a book, but she wanted it to be "one big hit" because she didn't think she could write more than one book and she wanted her single book to be a huge success. Politeness kept Janet and me from laughing hysterically, but Janet finally told her it doesn't happen that way anymore.

Very few writers can make a living, let alone a lavish living, from one single book. Or a twenty book series, for that matter. Many publishers would rather have a writer with plans to write a series because they know they will have repeat buyers if the series is successful. But the cold hard truth is this: in this day and age, anyone can write a book. Not necessarily a great book or even a good book, but A book. And thanks to the boom in self-publishing (which is even available for free), anyone can get their book published, in either hard copy or electronic form. A few clicks on the computer and it's done... what once took a writer months and even years to accomplish can now be done in a matter of days.

Still, writing and publishing mean very little if your book doesn't get recognized and read... and this means promoting and selling your book. And since writers are, by their very nature, rather introverted, promoting and selling are probably the worst aspects of the entire writing process. An author has to be able to approach other people--book sellers, book promoters, and especially book buyers--and sell their books. And the author's approach has a lot to do with whether his or her books get the attention of the targeted audience. If an author can't sum up the plot in a simple sentence or two, you might not have the prospective buyer/reader's attention long enough to interest them in the entire story. Once you have the prospect's attention, make sure you can tell enough about your book and your characters to intrigue them enough to buy without giving away the whole story.

Finding a radio show that spotlights authors is another way to get the word out without actually coming out of the Bat Cave. The benefit (besides being able to meet the public in your pajamas) is that you know your audience is specifically interested in books and that the host will help direct the show in a way that helps you talk about things you might not think about in a one-on-one encounter.

Book talks, whether at a public library, a bookstore, or another venue where you can sell books, are another way to promote your work and give your prospective audience the opportunity to know the author a little better and delve more deeply into what goes into the writing process and how the author works. This works very well for a series or a stand-alone book with a specialized focus. Also, it may be easier for some authors to talk to a small group rather than an individual or a large group.

With so many new books on the market every day, it only makes sense that writers work just as hard on promoting their books as they do on writing and editing them.

Me and my "agent" getting the word out on "At the Crossroad"!

1 comment:

  1. Indeed, everything you said is absolutely true. Of course I'd much rather be writing, but if you don't let people know about your book, you might as well forget it.