The Quirky Ladies is a group of eclectic (and dare I say quirky?) ladies who are passionate about writing romantic fiction. All types of romantic fiction...paranormal, fantasy, historical, erotic and contemporary. Bring it on!

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Hints from the Promo Queen


After announcing the unexpected news that my debut novel Sweet Inspiration was a bestseller at Fictionwise, various folks began to ask me what I did to promote my book. Since the jury is still out as to my actual sales, you can take this advice with a grain of salt. Also note, Sweet Inspiration was only available as an e-book, but the suggestions are still applicable for any on-line sales, including print books at Amazon or other locations. Here are some suggestions from the Promo Queen (I can't believe a found a photo of a dachshund wearing a crown!).

1. Don't wait around for your publisher to contact reviewers. The sites might be backlogged, and your review may come out 6 months after your book is released. That's good for long-term sales, but not helpful for your launch day push. Make sure you contact your own reviewers 3-4 months ahead, and schedule the reviews to be posted 1 wk before and several weeks after launch day to create buzz. How to find reviewers? Look for romance review blogs, ask your author friends (and make sure you offer to reciprocate), contact larger review sites and fill out their applications. Whatever it takes. As soon as you have good reviews rolling in, you can post them on your website, and announce them through twitter, facebook, etc.

P.S. No, you cannot insist that the reviewers write you a sparkling recommendation. Yes, it is nerve-wracking not knowing if the review will be good. Believe in your book and have faith. Readers realize that everyone has his/her own opinion about things. Don't send your sweet, rated-G YA novel to an erotica reviewer. Use common sense.

2. Run adds for 1-2 months prior, and 1-2 months during release. Pick places with high traffic and visitors who read ebooks or your particular genre. I splurged on All About Romance, and ran my banner there for the entire month of December. It's worth the investment if it gets you sales and exposure. Don't waste your time/money running ads (even if they are cheap) on places that are cluttered with banners and ads, or visited mostly by authors and not readers. Ads are fairly simple to make. You can either just take a jpeg of your book cover with a link (use your website if it's prior to the purchase link being released). Moving gif banners are also cool...my awesome website designer made me a gorgeous one.

3. Don't forget the golden rule...promo must reach readers!!!! It's OK to run promo on your publishing loops, but it's more important to reach readers. Try reader loops/bloggers who specialize in your genre, and have a lot of followers/traffic. However, be warned. Self-promoting on the reader boards at Amazon, AAR, Barnes and Nobles is not a good idea. Self-promotion is forbidden on some loops. Read the rules and regulations carefully before you post.

4. Contests are good! Why? Because it draws in readers, and announcements for contests get posted on a lot of other sites on-line. Lots of exposure! You could give away a $5 or $10 gift card from Amazon, which is not too high of an expense. Tie in prizes with your book theme... I gave away xmas ornaments, hot cocoa, cookies, etc--all tied into the theme of my Christmas story.

5. Post your cover, your blurb and don't forget a good excerpt. People want to see what kind of writer you are, so choose your excerpt wisely. Post on facebook/myspace, twitter, your blog, your friend's blog, your website, etc.

6. Get a Goodreads acct! Pronto! Goodreads is fantastic...you can do self-promotion without looking like a jerk. Make an author page so you can post book info, excerpt, trailers, announce contests/launch day, etc. Goodreads is viral....if you get one good review, "friends" read it, add your book, discuss on ami boards (there are a lot of cross over people on ami and goodreads, also AAR)--do it!

7. Invest in a good website designer. You want your website, ad banners, book trailers to all look polished and professional. You can post your book trailers on youtube and place links on facebook, websites, etc. You can do these things yourself, but make sure it looks professional. If you make a nice banner, ask your author friends to post it on their webs/blogs too if possible...

8. Book bloggers often post covers with the release date on their side bars. This is awesome free publicity.

9. Set up interviews and guest blog posts. Make sure most are on high-traffic reader sites. It's OK to do some author sites too. Everyone has his/her own followers and you might get into a new "crew" of folks! Make a big calendar with your schedule, try not to overlap or over schedule. Spread it out. Make sure you send confirmation emails, thank you notes to everyone, even people who might give you only mediocre reviews. Always be professional and polite.

10. Even mediocre reviews are helpful. Don't get into a sparring match with a reviewer you disagree with. It's totally uncool and unprofessional. Remember...what goes around comes around.

11. Do things to set you apart from the masses....be creative! My 5 Klaus brothers "took over" my blog for 5 weeks prior to launch day, gave away prizes, readers got to know the brothers and wanted more. It really drummed up interest, and the unexpected benefit was that it helped me get to know my characters better!

12. Visit other blogs and leave comments...your url is attached, so you will get visitors to your blog. However, don't waste too much time with this! The internet addiction can eat up a lot of time (and I should know!--that's new year's resolution #6).

13. Post about good reviews, good news to keep up buzz. Make it fun and interesting. Don't just say "I got another 5 star review!" Take a fun snippet out of the review ("The Klaus brothers really cranked my Christmas tree....5 stars!") and use that instead. Make it fun and creative.

14. Google yourself. Find out if anyone is talking about you/your book....then post good stuff!

15. Make your blog fun...post news snippets, reviews of books you're enjoying, do mini interviews, run contests...have fun with it. It should not be too much work or too stressful!

16. For those of you with print books: Don't waste too much time scheduling book signings, etc. Focus on on-line sales. A lot of people buy their books online from Amazon, Barnes and Noble, etc. Always include purchase links when discussing your book....either to Amazon, your publisher, etc.

If anyone has any other good promo tidbits, please let me know!

Penny

37 comments:

Becca said...

Penny, these were really helpful hints! Thanks so much for sharing them - I will refer back to this great advice when my turn comes around (power of positive thinking!!). Just curious -- you have a lot of amazing content here, would you consider turning this information into a conference workshop? You'd be great at it!

Penny Watson said...

Hi Becca! Your turn is just around the corner! Get ready!

Sure, I would love to do a conference workshop. Maybe I could get a couple of the Quirky Ladies to help out, too. (Hint, hint). :)

Michelle Picard said...

Sure, Penny, I'll help out (recovering from hard elbow to the stomach here). I'll be Vanna holding the lovely cue cards while you do the talking. You completely rule when it comes to promo.

Dalton Diaz said...

I bow to the promo queen. Hmmm. Did you say workshop? Ears are perkin'! Watch your inbox.

Margaret Tanner said...

Hi Penny,
Very helpful hints. Thank you so much.
Regards
Margaret

Mary Ricksen said...

I agree with all you suggested. Great tips!

Penelope said...

Hi Michelle! You would make a beautiful Vanna, but you have some good promo tips, too. Don't try to weasel out of it!

Penelope said...

Hi Dalton! I promise not to go over 4 hours for my workshop. Hee hee! :)

Penelope said...

Hi Margaret! Thanks for stopping by. Your web page is absolutely gorgeous! Love it! Good luck with your upcoming release.

Penelope said...

Hi Mary...nice to have a fellow "Faery Rose" stop by. I love the photos of Vermont on your web page. I lived in Vermont for 5 years and still bug my husband about moving back.

Marianne Evans said...

Awesome tips - I appreciate you sharing them with us! Love the blog. :-)

Penelope said...

Hi Marianne...thanks! I just peeked at your website...Oh my goodness, the cover of your upcoming book is just beautiful. Good luck with it!

Linda Poitevin said...

Oh, how I wish I'd had these handy BEFORE I began promo for my new release...I would have saved a lot of time and effort, and more than a few $. Awesome tips, Marianne -- going into my keeper file for the next book! :)

Warmly,
Linda

Penelope said...

Hi Linda...thanks for stopping by The Quirky Ladies blog! I really like your website...well-done. Good luck with releases this year.
--Penny

Ilona Fridl said...

I know what you mean, Penny. My book came out in July and I have two reviews so far. I've been doing the blog tour and that seems to help. I don't have a lot of money for promotions, so I mostly fine things that are low cost. I did splurge on a professional website and I'm glad I did.

Penelope said...

Hi Ilona! I'm glad you stopped by and left a message. There are a lot of things you can do for self-promo that are not expensive, but they do take time. It takes a lot of time and effort to research the right places to promote your book. I just looked at your releases and I can think of lots of fun tie-ins with movie theatres, Alaska, etc. You could have a contest and give away a couple of tickets to a movie theatre! Your website looks great, too. Good luck!

Lynne Roberts said...

Great advice and congratulations on your success!

~Lynne

Penelope said...

Hi Lynne! I just "friended" you on goodreads! I also saw on your website that Gone With The Wind was a big influence on you....me, too! Thanks for stopping by.

Tricia Jones said...

Great tips, Penny. I've printed out your list to remind myself to promo, promo, promo!

Tricia

Penelope said...

Hi Tricia...glad the list is helpful. I just visited your website and I LOVE your yoga page. Having something special or different on your website that helps to set you apart from other writers is a big bonus. Very nice! Good luck with new releases!

Tory Richards said...

Good stuff Penny! I created mailing labels with the graphics to my book covers, added a small blurb and every time I mail something out I make sure a label is on it.

I also carry pens and book marks and hand them out when I'm shopping.

Tory

Penelope said...

Tory, what a great idea! I love the mailing labels...super cool idea. I use my bookmarks as business cards...more fun and useful, too! Thanks for the input!

Caroline Clemmons said...

What a great blog article! I'm printing out the article for reference.

Alice Audrey said...

I just got my Goodreads account set up. Great suggestion.

I do a lot of #12. Can't seem to help myself.

Penelope said...

Hi Caroline! Thanks a lot. I just read an excerpt from your summer 2010 release Out of the Blue...I love this line: "You kiss like a virgin." Hee hee....awesome!

Penelope said...

Hi Alice. "Friend" me on goodreads....it's Penny Watson!

Mimi Barbour said...

Hi Penelope,
I had decided from the start of promoting my new release in Nov that I would be frugal, use the many free sites to advertise, follow footsteps of others before me who had blazed the trail...uh-huh! Right!! After trying to get myself, and my cover, set up on a bunch of different websites, the tick in my left eye got much worse, candy binging hit an all-time high, the stress rashes occurred more frequently and marriage counselling looks imminent. Your common-sense advice has been the best I’ve read so far, and I thank you from the bottom of my rather high blood-pressured heart.
Mimi

Penelope said...

Oh Mimi! I am sooooo sorry to hear that. Some of those places look like a huge collage of ten million banners and covers, and honestly, I don't think any readers are willing to surf through the mess. If you're on a budget, it's better to get fellow authors with blogs to post your book cover on a side bar. Your cover will pop in a less cluttered environment, and actually catch readers' attention. Good luck!

Carolyn Crane said...

Oh, what a great post! Thanks for helping out your fellow writer!!!

Penny Watson said...

Hi Carolyn! So glad you stopped by...I just posted your book cover and release date on my Penelope page. I'm so excited for your debut novel to come out...I can't wait to read it. Good luck with all of the craziness (and goodness!).

Mariposa Cruz said...

Penny,

I'm waiting on my release date from TWRP, but I'm trying to learn the promo ropes as I go along. Thanks for the great ideas!

Penny Watson said...

Hi Mariposa! Thanks for stopping by. Let me know when you get a release date, cover, etc. Good luck to you!

Raven Corinn Carluk said...

Well, Michelle Picard was my link over here, and I'm glad I found you all. I'm especially glad I found this article. (Well, I asked her about doing promo and marketing, and this is a good thing).

There's so much too this, and I just can't find enough for the newbie. Your post is quite helpful. It makes me feel a whole lot less nervous.

Penelope said...

Hi Raven...congrats on your story being published by Crescent Moon! I love your "dark" website. Hope these hints help out when you're promoting your upcoming release.

Becky said...

Penny
What great tips! I haven't had a book released in a couple of years and your post was exactly what I needed to get myself back in the promoting groove.

Penelope said...

Hi Becky...thanks for stopping by. Good luck with your upcoming releases. I have a friend who just started a romantic suspense blog, so if you are interested in places to guest blog, let me know and I will forward her your name and email. Good luck!

Cathryn Parry said...

These are great tips, Penny. And congratulations on the best seller list!