Today’s guest post from Jeannine Hall Gailey shares her tips on PR for Poets, including tips for introverts to promote books. As Jeannine writes, "The internet has actually made the world much easier for introverts, and book marketing is no different."
Jeannine Hall Gailey served as the second Poet Laureate of Redmond, Washington. She is the author of five books of poetry: Becoming the Villainess, She Returns to the Floating World, Unexplained Fevers, The Robot Scientist’s Daughter, and Field Guide to the End of the World, winner of the Moon City Press Book Prize and the SFPA’s Elgin Award.
Her newest guide to helping poets with promoting their books, PR for Poets, just came out with Two Sylvias Press. Her work has been featured on NPR’s The Writer’s Almanac, Verse Daily, and in The Year’s Best Fantasy and Horror. Her poems have appeared in The American Poetry Review, The Iowa Review and Prairie Schooner. Her website is www.webbish6.com.
Find her on Twitter @webbish6.
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My new book from Two Sylvias Press, PR for Poets, is a guide for beginning to mid-career poets to learn how to build an audience and promote their books! Think of it as a guide to getting read.
People have said to me, “Oh, I can’t promote my book! I wouldn’t know what to do - I’m an introvert!”
Many writers aren’t naturally extroverted – a fact you’ve probably observed in person at any awkward open mike or writers’ conference. And that’s okay! Extroverts might have a slight advantage at things like workshops, conference presentations, or reading tours. But there are plenty of ways for an introvert to help their work shine!
Promoting Your Book – First Steps
I wrote an article for Poet’s Market a few years ago – “Six Ways to Promote Your Poetry Book.” In that article, of course, I talked about things like interacting with your local poetry community and doing a bunch of readings, but for this blog post, I’m going to focus on a couple of the ways that involve very little face-to-face personal interaction – something you can do from home, on your own time.
Postcards and E-mail
If you send out holiday cards to family and friends, think about asking your publisher to make book postcards, or think about creating your own with a web-based printer, like Vistaprint or moo.com. These book postcards can do a lot of the work for you – introduce your audience to the idea that you’ve written a book, tell them a little bit about it, and make it easy for them to order it. The front should be an image of the book cover, and the postcard side should have a little blurb about the book as well as information on how to purchase it, ideally with a direct link. Remember to leave room for the address and postage.
If you’re not much of a snail mail person, use the same idea and send out a friendly e-mail to your writing friends, supporters, family, and former teachers – a friendly greeting, a little bit about the book, and information on how to order it. This can be as fancy as you want – you can use a service like MailChimp – but honestly, I just use my personal e-mail address and send them out to targeted groups a little at a time – one for family, one for college friends, fellow poets, etc.
Social Media, Author Websites, and Guest Blog Posts
Everyone with a book to sell should have an author website set up before the book launches. Ideally, this site includes a little about you – a bio or CV, links to your work online and to your book, maybe an author photo (even if you’re not in love with the idea, an author photo helps audiences feel like they can connect with you) and links to your social media accounts. And yes, you’re an introvert, but you probably should provide some way to contact you, like an e-mail link or at least a contact form.
How much social media you do, and what type, depends on what you feel comfortable with. If you’re visual, maybe Instagram or Pinterest. If you’re pithy, Twitter might be your true home. And if you’re into sharing, Facebook might be a good platform. I try to be on all three, and the more you’re active, the more followers you’ll gain. Posting images of the book cover, maybe sample poems, helps you share your work – without ever actually being in the presence of other human beings! The internet has actually made the world much easier for introverts, and book marketing is no different.
One thing you might not have thought of is exactly what I’m doing right now – writing a guest post for someone’s blog about a topic related to your book. This way, you’re helping people and providing your expertise and at the same time, growing your potential audience. This is especially helpful if you don’t have your own blog or an equivalent presence, like a TinyLetter, online.
You might also consider doing a virtual book blog tour – I did it for my last poetry book with a service that helped connect me with book bloggers who read and reviewed my book. These often include short blog interviews or guest posts about your book. A virtual tour is much less money – and easier – to do than a reading tour where you have to shlep from one town to another and face strangers in person!
I hope this has been helpful to introverts nervous about how to promote their work and worried about the obstacles they might encounter. For more in-depth information, please check out my book, PR for Poets!
If you’d like to share your voice on any poetry-related topic at Poetic Asides, please send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject line “Poetic Asides Guest Post” with a brief idea of what you’d like to cover or send along a 300-500 word post on spec. And be sure to include your preferred bio (50-100 words) and head shot. If I like what you send, I’ll include it as a future guest post on the blog.