Ahhh … book promotion. Who the hell knows what the right formula might be when you’re trying to get the world out about your book? That’s truly what it all boils down to.
Most authors I know have a website, a blog, and are part of a group blog with other authors. Through those venues, they talk about the process of writing, the challenges authors face (like the subject of this blog posting, for example) they post links to reviews of their books and they do giveaways. Lots and lots and lots and lots of giveaways with the proviso being that entries must post links to the contest on all their social networks.
This is what they call an ethical bribe. It’s a standard marketing tool that has been around forever and while it works for a Slap Chop infomercial, I’m not entirely convinced there’s any evidence that ethical bribes work for authors. Not that I am against doing book giveaways, I mean, we authors do want to spread the word, of course.
I’ve been researching successful book promotion strategies and I’ve come to the conclusion that it truly is a crap shoot. I’m on Twitter (which I love) Facebook (which is okay, I guess) and I blog here and at Dark Central Station. I enjoy blogging and interacting with my readers as well as fellow authors, but I’m not convinced that it translates into sales. DCS alumni author Wayne Simmons might disagree, though. He’s had remarkable success in promoting both is fantastic novels on Facebook – FLU and DROP DEAD GORGEOUS are both bestsellers.
Me? I don’t have a bestseller. It might be due to the fact that I am with a small publisher that doesn’t have the capacity to get my books into North American bookstores, but it might also be due to the fact that what I write (urban fantasy) is a pretty flooded marketplace already. Therefore, it is entirely possible that book promotion challenges are compounded further by similar titles in the same genre – that makes it harder and harder to get your book noticed.
The market is changing, though. Brick and mortar stores are closing all over the place and ebook sales are skyrocketing. The age of the affordable ebook reader is upon us and I predict you will be able to purchase a Kindle or a Kobo for under a hundred bucks by year’s end. This means the online marketplace will be expanding and authors have to look for new ways to capture the attention of readers because that online marketplace will be global in scope as opposed to the physical limitations inside the four walls of a brick and mortar store.
Increasingly, social networking is going to be key in book promotion – and the challenge for authors will be how to get that social network buzzing about your book. I also believe that certain kinds of books have a built-in capacity for social networking. Romance, for example, is a good one. Men generally don’t read romance. Women do. Women are far more socially adept than men and more importantly, they’re linked to one another globally because women are defining the social networking phenomenon. Actually scratch that – social networking isn’t a phenomenon – it’s a new paradigm for our culture. It’s a new benchmark.
How an author can successfully tap into social networking is the new voodoo science of book promotion, I think. Because while the social networking infrastructure exists, the way in which an author can utilize that infrastructure to build his/her brand is the ultimate challenge.
I’m still trying to figure that out and it’s a huge learning curve for me because while I am probably far more “connected” than most of my friends in my social circle, social networking isn’t central to my life – it isn’t a primary method of communication for me though it certainly is central to those who are a generation behind me. Like my son, who doesn’t call me – he texts me or “facebooks” me a message by posting something on my wall.
And so I think I will start there. The facebook wall. Just for the hell of it, I am going to do a giveaway – want to win a copy of SHADE FRIGHT and FUNERAL PALLOR? Get my titles onto as many of your friends walls as you can and tweet this blog posting on Twitter. Pass on the giveaway, too. I want to see if I can crack the voodoo science enough to get a glimpse at what is possible. Post your the names of those walls you posted to in the comment section as well as your tweet back to this blog posting. The one with the most entries will get a signed copy of both books as well as great thanks in helping me get the word out about my books.