Thursday, December 19, 2013

Book Promotion by the Seat of my Pants

When my first manuscript for Highland Solution was finished I smiled and reveled in a moment of contentment before asking, what now? I really knew nothing about the industry, making self-publishing a bit daunting, so I researched publishers. Specifically, I searched for those, who published historical romance and accepted queries directly from authors. I selected a handful of likely candidates and researched their submission requirements.

In addition to the standard query letter, full synopsis and first three chapters, Champagne Books asked for “A promotional plan, showing short term and long term goals.” What? I know nothing about book promotion. Thankfully, it also said “While your submission won't be won or lost on the basis of this 'plan', it will get you thinking about what you can do to help promote your novel.”

My field is drug development so I put together a promotional plan based on the pharmaceutical model with which I was familiar. This model includes three basic steps, premarketing, launch and continued marketing. Sounds good right? The problem was I didn’t really have a clue about how to translate this to publishing. I was particularly na├»ve about what might work for premarketing and I did very little.

I stumbled upon a successful launch model when another author suggested that I ask some popular authors in my subgenre to allow me to guest on their blogs. This gave me instant exposure to diehard fans willing to try a new author. My sales soared and Highland Solution hit and held the number one position on Amazon (in Scottish and medieval romance) in both the US and the UK for weeks.

Now I am in the “continued marketing” phase. In the pharmaceutical model this is when sales representatives would “detail” a drug to physicians. Translating this to publishing has been a challenge. I have tried getting bloggers to read and review the novel on their sites with some limited success. I have tried posting links to positive reviews on Twitter, also with limited success. I tried a professional press release, but have had no success to date with that.

My launch was effective because of “the kindness of strangers,” so I revisited the model. I recently announced a Christmas giveaway on my blog The prize includes my books and, as a way to thank them, books by seven authors within my subgenre who have been particularly supportive of me. One author offered to help promote the giveaway with a blog appearance, so I asked the others if they wished to as well. All agreed and have publicized their appearances on their social media platforms. Consequently, I have had more visits to my site in the last few days than ever before.
I don’t know if there has been any impact on my sales yet, but it has been fun, traffic to my site has increased dramatically, and the total cost to me is only about $50, a third of the unsuccessful press-release.



Julie Eberhart Painter said...

Nickolas Sparks was a Pharmaceutical rep., and he used he uses his sales experience to drive a fabulous career!

Anonymous said...

This sounds like a very interesting and effective strategy, Ceci, and as a follower of your blog I am very inspired to see how you are building your readership. I am sure it will continue!

Liz Fountain said...

What a great idea! One I'll plan to follow up in the new year.