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5 Easy Ways to Publicize and Promote Your Book

1. Email: Long Live the 20th Century! Nothing did more for my book than an email sent on the day of my book launch, which was October 2nd. On my publication day, I emailed every contact I had in my personal account, names and email addresses I’ve held onto over the last decade. In six hours, my book, for all of one hour, cracked Amazon’s Top 100 in Fiction, clocking in at #81. No, it isn’t a bestseller, but that was pretty exciting for a debut short story collection on a small press. I’m positive that the overwhelming support from all the people whose paths I’ve crossed in the last decade lead to this initial sales success. Even if many of us bemoan being overburdened with email, it’s still the most efficient and direct way to let people know about your book. I only sent one email (I don’t spam people) but it was more than enough to give my book a boost.

1. Email:Long Live the 20th Century! Nothing did more for my book than an email sent on the day of my book launch, which was October 2nd. On my publication day, I emailed every contact I had in my personal account, names and email addresses I’ve held onto over the last decade. In six hours, my book, for all of one hour, cracked Amazon’s Top 100 in Fiction, clocking in at #81. No, it isn’t a bestseller, but that was pretty exciting for a debut short story collection on a small press. I’m positive that the overwhelming support from all the people whose paths I’ve crossed in the last decade lead to this initial sales success. Even if many of us bemoan being overburdened with email, it’s still the most efficient and direct way to let people know about your book. I only sent one email (I don’t spam people) but it was more than enough to give my book a boost.

strategies-against-extinction-nye-novel
michael-nye-author-writer

Column by Michael Nye, author of STRATEGIES AGAINST EXTINCTION
(Queen’s Ferry Press, 2012), a collection of short stories. His work has
appeared or is forthcoming in Boulevard, Cincinnati Review, Kenyon Review,
and New South, among many others. He is the managing editor of
The Missouri Review. Visit him online at www.mpnye.com.

2. Social Media: What Kind of Tie You Wearing? Every writer knows that you need to have a social media presence now. But what kind? Facebook? Twitter? Tumblr? All? More? Others? Whatever the answer is, realize that they are all different, and as a writer, you have to pick the social media platform that works best for you. None of them are “right” or “best” so choosing the one that you are most comfortable with is going to make it feel less like work and more like serious play (as I prefer to call it). I’ve wholly embraced Twitter, but you might be a Facebook person. Whatever it is, I like to think of it like a good tie. It’s not just the knot (four-in-hand or Windsor?) or fabric (silk or cotton?) but it also reminds me to stay focused by imagining it as part of business apparel. Sure, I talk basketball on my Twitter account, which explicitly has nothing to do with my book or my magazine.

(Pitch agents at a writers' conference.)

3. Cheers: Where Everyone Knows Your Name. If you’re doing some touring, it’s best to spend a little time with people you know. Certainly, the major literary hubs, New York and Chicago and San Francisco, are great places to go and promote your work at readings or conferences and the like. But it’s also a good reason to visit a city where there are people you love, who don’t care at all about your book because they know you the way readers don’t, and they just want to spend time with you. It’s great to have dinner with old friends and relax complete and talk about any and everything BUT book promotion. One of my good friends told me long ago “Remember, this is supposed to be fun.” It sounds like obvious advice, but to a person like me, this is an important and simple message to remember.

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4. You Know Who’s Awesome - That Guy! Over the last few years, I’ve told people about several writers whose work I really enjoyed: Andrew Scott, Inman Majors, Jamie Quatro, and Jonathan Dee, to name just a few. What do I get out of this? Absolutely nothing. I talk about their work and how much I love it because … well, I love their work. There is no direct benefit to me, at all, of doing this. So why do I emphasis it here? Because we were all readers before we were writers, and it’s important to remind ourselves, and our audience, that reading is what this is all about. We want books that engage us, that are memorable, that you can’t stop talking about. Why not show your readers that you are just like them (especially because, surprise, you are!). Talk about other authors whose work you love not because they can do something for you but because they are awesome.

(The term "platform" defined -- learn how to sell more books.)

5. Plan To Do Nothing. I’ve done lots to promote my book. I’ve done interviews, gone on a tour around my job, blogged, tweeted, and so forth. And it never feels like enough. The more I think about it, the more I’m certain that if I spent 365 days on the road, giving readings and interviews and meeting readers and all that other good stuff … it would still never feel like enough. Once your brain switches into Promote This Book! mode you feel as if there are always opportunities, that everywhere you look, someone is doing something to find a bigger audience. This will only wear you out and make you feel terrible about yourself. It’s not worth it. Writing your book and having it published is a tremendous success. Remember that. Because you’ll need the weekends off to appreciate your work, to reflect, to rest, to enjoy living your life. This might sound a little touchy-feely, but it’s really easy to get burned out. Try not to do that to yourself.

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