Abdi Aden, author of Shining and Yes I Can is very canny at promoting his books. Here are a few suggestions from him based on his experiences:
My PR is very basic and low budget.
- Word of mouth anywhere you can, such as my kids' basketball. Take-away shops, public places.
- Schools I visit and speak at.
- Making t-shirts.
- Websites, also other book-sellers websites.
- Calling places saying "I have a book." Like example some writers festivals, Dymocks Camberwell also run a book night every November for self-publishers.
- Social media like Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.
- Also learn when new social media come up like snapchat.
- Find small festivals, such as Clunes -- self publishers do well there. People attend from all over the world,
A thoughtful and in-depth examination of how authors are not getting the best results from their digital presence. The writer explains why the interests of authors and publishers do not always align, and how a new generation of author-centric services are being created.
Ricc Carr talks about her career and teaching methods. Cover by WorkingType Studio.Read More
Cleo Lynch, author of "Careering Into Corrections" has documented her own promotional activities in the hope that some of them might come in useful for other writers. Hear more about Cleo here and buy her book here.
- Publisher provided package of book covers
- Author biography
- Updated photo of author (perhaps holding the book)
- Updated list of previous talks
- Business card
- Pamphlets (rudimentary, as befits the technologically and financially challenged or more professional)
How did I start this ball rolling?
- Friends, rellies: Cousin worked for charity — gave talk for their IWD luncheon; some coverage in their local press. Sold some books (book sales are never staggering – just a steady trickle).
- Contacted Service Clubs and Social Clubs via email addresses and websites along with promotional material outlets — Senior publications (my age group), radio stations, newspapers (need to be innovative with covering letter — try to think of a catchy opening sentence). Did get one radio interview with Radio National). Not sure what book sales resulted from these initiatives.
- Sent promotional material to libraries – this has had very limited response, but am a friend of my local library, which resulted in an author presentation for which they did the promotional work, with leaflets, posters, on-line bookings etc. (From this I was asked to do two more talks, one at the Friends’ AGM on my volunteer work, and another at a local writers’ group on the pitfalls of publication).
- Always carry a package of book cover with business card and promo pamphlet inserted, and a copy of book. Learnt from experience that sales can result in the most unlikely places, e.g. conversations on a bus, functions etc.
In any event, the most successful of these initiatives has been from service clubs.
- Rewards and outcomes vary, e.g some expect the talk to be free and may offer wine, chocolates, free lunch/dinner, however many pay varying amounts for travel expenses and your time.
- If they enjoyed the talk, they tell others.
- Usually sell a trickle of books
- Opportunity to distribute promotional packages to interested persons and so tap into potential future engagements
However, as much of my modest fame depends on my interaction with the audience I ensure that my delivery is as professional as possible. So I offer the following:
- Prepare your talk, i.e. compose it, type it out, go over it, rehearse it.
- Ensure that your talk will not go over the allotted time (many of these clubs have gratis use of community rooms and have to vacate by a certain time),
- Ask for a microphone (and any other technology you might require), lectern for your prepared talk and small table on which to display your book (I take a plate stand) and promo material.
- Don’t read your talk – but keep it handy for reference
- Be aware of your target audience, i.e. if elderly, many will be hearing impaired, many will be inclined to nod off, (yes even mid-morning!), may have posture problems that compromise their comfort (One compliment I often receive is ‘I looked around the room and no one was nodding off!)
- Introduce yourself, thank people for attending, give brief overview of your book, why you wrote it etc. and if possible, try a little humour (e.g. I say ‘I wrote this memoir originally for my children and grandchildren, who I might say, are completely underwhelmed by it’).
- Speak slowly, use microphone, engage all audience (while some speakers recommend you focus on one spot, it is good to try to sweep your gaze around the room to try to engage as many as possible).
- By all means include readings from your book in your presentation, but I’ve found it more useful to limit fumbling for pages, by identifying one passage to read from the book, and then to include others in my typed out presentation, and introduce such passages as excerpts from my book.
- If you use power point, don’t use it as a passive tool – you are the speaker, power point is an accessory. Some of the most boring talks I’ve attended have been when speakers spoke indistinctly, leaving power point to do the work.
While compiling this, I received a phone call for another booking. I took details, i.e. date contact name, name of Club, email address of contact so I can forward promo material (or postal address). I gave my address for confirmation and details of talk. This takes my bookings up to August.
Guest Post by Jo Ettles
I love social media and it has worked well for me. There are so many options though, so my best advice is pick one or two social media platforms and then do them really well. I use Facebook and Twitter only.
Facebook – I have a personal Facebook account but I keep this for family and friends and a few colleagues that I have connected with. Off to the side of my personal account, I have a business/ author page which I post on daily. Because I write self- help books, I post quotes and tips, wellness information that I hope will encourage people to take action towards having a better day. To me, it is fantastic a way to instantly connect with people and it also reflects the way I write.
I have used Facebook adds as a way of selling books, and I have had good results. If you are not familiar with marketing using Facebook advertising, the guidelines are strict and you need to be mindful on how to do it well to make it work. It is trial and error and maybe that is another post down the track if anyone wants to know more about that as a way to market their books.
You can actually connect your Facebook page to Twitter and when you post on Facebook, it automatically reposts it on Twitter- killing 2 birds with one stone (no pun intended!!!). Twitter is a phenomenal way to connect with the world. I once connected with two amazing coaches in London via Twitter and I sent them a copy of my first book. When they received it, they took a photo of it and then shared the photo and some information about my book with all of their followers. It definitely generated interest in my work and resulted in an increase in sales.
Here is another way to look at Twitter. If you follow someone on Twitter, they automatically receive notification via email that you are following them. It is a perfect way to connect and introduce yourself to all sorts of amazing people who might want to follow you, connect with you and even share your work.
When my first book was released, I had a publicist that actually got me a few radio interviews and a couple of good reviews in magazines. For my latest book, I have no publicist. I am my own publicist!
I wrote my own press release and sent a copy of my latest book to a few media publications. So far, I have had a few radio interviews, a great full page write up in a newspaper magazine and it is early days. I have only just started doing this.
I don’t have any real influential media connections so this method is a bit hit and miss for me, but I have nothing to lose. I think if you want to really get your work out there, be fearless. What is the worst thing that can happen? They don’t respond? Take a chance. You may be pleasantly surprised.
Send review copies to journalists in your local paper or any papers and magazines for that matter. There is a great website called Sourcebottle and it is a free online service that connects journalists with sources so if you sign up, you get daily emails of upcoming opportunities to quote or feature in stories. I have found a couple of great opportunities via this website to promote myself and my books.
Best known as the organisers of the CBCA awards, the Children's Book Council of Australia also offers (but does not guarantee) to review childrens and YA books sent to them at this address:
Reading Time Online
PO Box 216
Kallangur LPO QLD 4503
The reviews are published at readingtime.com.au
The overwhelming majority of reviews are of books published by mainstream publishers, but independent authors should still give it a go. The criteria for inclusion genuinely seems to be quality rather than origin.
Kids Book Review is an attractive and frequently updated Australian book review blog. Apart from thoughtful reviews, the site also features interviews with illustrators and authors. Due to the sheer volume of review requests, the volunteers who run the site will not review self-published work. The site also has an excellent list of writing awards and events, plus links to related blogs and services.
Printed books seem have unexpected staying power. The growth of the ebook segment of the market has slowed dramatically, and independent bookstores have experienced a modest expansion, both in terms of the number of stores and overall sales. Readers cite the tactile aspect of the printed word, along with the aesthetics of a good bookshelf. Not that the digital revolution hasn't changed the book trade — at least 40% of all book sales are now online.
Bianca Ross' charming Herbert Peabody series (typesetting and layout by WorkingType Design) continues with Herbert Peabody and the Incredible Beehive. Authors would do very well to study Bianca's promotional activities as outlined on her Herbert Peabody-themed Facebook feed. Lots of media activity, plentiful, on-point posts, a feeling of positive, targeted activity. And it helps somewhat that the book itself is excellent with very good quality illustrations. Herbert's official website is worth investigating as well. And buy the book!
Some interesting thoughts from Anne Davies, author of Wrath, listed as a notable book in the Children's Book Council Awards. She touches on the school market and writing with boys and young men in mind.
The Albury Wodonga paper of record, the Border Morning Mail recently ran a story on Maria Stefanidis and her book "The Sunny Side of the Street". The article details Maria's dedication to her writing and discipline in ensuring her work is of the highest possible quality.
If you are planning to sell your book at places other than bookstores, you might want to consider a portable display banner to attract attention. Lightweight, retractable banners are widely available and with designs printed in full colour at high resolution, they can be quite striking. Prices are low and preparation of artwork (a service offered by WorkingType) is usually similarly inexpensive. The banner shown below this post features "The Sunny Side of the Street" by Maria Stefanidis.