Getting a book published is a great accomplishment. But the work to make that book a success begins long before your work sees a bookstore shelf. Here are eight simple, cost-effective marketing tips:
1. Compile a mailing list
Begin today to collect the names, addresses and e-mails of your friends, neighbors and relatives. Add writers you meet at conferences and monthly meetings, members of organizations to which you belong and co-workers. Your publisher may use this list to seek orders before your book is printed or mail announcements afterward. Before my first book, When Love Dies: How to Save a Hopeless Marriage (Word Books), was released I had more than 200 names, every one of them a potential buyer.
2. Publish stories or articles
Write for magazines that will reach your intended audience and will reference your book in your bionote. An article can reach thousands of readers. What great publicity—and you're getting paid for it!
3. Speak to your audience
Identify the people who will buy your book and then find ways to speak to them. If you are working on a gardening book, find a gardening club. If you are writing parenting material, call local schools and ask about speaking at the PTA meetings. Get yourself and your book out there.
4. Have your portrait taken
Obtain a nice head shot that reflects the readership of your book. If you are writing a professional book, look like it. If it's a children's book, appear casual. You will have many opportunities to use these pictures, so get permission from the studio to reprint them.
5. Create a brochure
With the software that is now available you can do this yourself or hire a designer. Make it clear, concise and professional looking. Before my book was released, I handed out my brochure at speaking engagements and kept a supply in my purse to give to anyone who was interested. This way people could read about my book in more detail and order it later. I also visited bookstores, introduced myself to the owner/manager and provided copies that could be shared with customers.
6. Create a personal Web site
If you have your URL before your book comes out, it can be printed on the jacket cover, attached to all of the publicity and linked to your publisher's Web site. You can also exchange links with other Web sites where fans of your genre may visit.
I created my site, www.judybodmer.com, by using Microsoft's FrontPage. (Allaire's HomeSite and Macromedia's Dreamweaver are other software options for Web site construction.) It was easy to use and with just a little direction from my son, I had it up and running in no time. If this seems beyond your capabilities, then hire a Webmaster. Ask your friends to recommend someone who is within your budget or contact your local community college. Such classes have students who are looking for opportunities to design Web sites just for the experience. The initial cost, which can run you about $150, will be worth it if it leads to increased sales.
7. Find influential people
My publisher asked me to gather a list of influential people who I wanted to receive a free copy of my book. Since my book targeted Christian women, I called local churches and asked for the name of the person in charge of women's ministries. A word from just the right person can create huge sales.
8. Negotiate free copies
When it comes time to negotiate your contract, ask the publisher for as many free copies as the company is willing to give you. Later, hand out the copies prudently to those who are willing and able to promote your book.
These are the marketing ideas that worked for me. Choose what feels right to you and is within your budget. Then go for it, now, before your book is even published. The rewards? Larger book sales and just maybe, a best seller.
Judy Bodmer is a full-time writer and freelance editor. She taught creative writing for eight years at Lake Washington Technical College and wrote When Love Dies: How to Save a Hopeless Marriage.