Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Buy My Book

As we approach the release of SIN, The Chicago Contingent Anthology, promotion has been at the forefront of my mind. Postcards are being printed, websites are being updated, readings are being scheduled and hopefully the word is being spread. But it is difficult to tell what works and what doesn't, what's cost effective and what isn't. So, let's take a look at some promotion options:

Postcards and mailers
Cost: Moderate
Time Consumption: Moderate
It's a fast and simple way to spread the word, but it's difficult to measure how well it works. Lots of people throw advertisements away without even looking at them and how many of the people who read the mailer actually go out and buy the book? At conferences and other networking events, handing out postcards or bookmarks can be more effective. At least then, you're looking your potential audience in the eye.

Book Trailers
Cost: Moderate to High
Time Consumption: High
I'm still skeptical about a book trailer's ability to sell books. I'm not a person that spends much time on YouTube, so the book trailers I've seen come from the author's website or blog. If I'm visiting the author's site, chances are I'd buy the book anyway. If the trailer is good, people will send it to their friends and word will spread. But good trailers tend to be costly and I don't think that they sell enough books to break even.

Website or Blog
Cost: Minimal
Time Consumption: Minimal to Moderate
I'd say the web is the most cost effective way to promote. A website can reach people all over the world, it doesn't take much time or money to maintain, and the internet has the ability to spread the word fast. In order to maintain site traffic, it's necessary to update your website frequently so people have a reason to come back and visit.

Cost: Moderate
Time Consumption: Minimal to Moderate
If your publisher sends Advance Reading Copies to every major publication and reviewer in the country, consider yourself lucky. Most authors have to research and mail out copies themselves. I do believe good reviews and blurbs sell books, but they can be harder to come by. The cost of shipping ARCs can really add up, but if someone like Janet Maslin gives you a blurb, it was all worth it.

Facebook and MySpace
Cost: Nothing
Time Consumption: Minimal to Moderate
I've gone over my feelings about social networking sites in a previous post so I won't spend too much time on this one. Basically, it doesn't cost anything and doesn't have to take up too much of your time. I'm not convinced that having a thousand friends and telling them to buy your book actually does anything, but if it's a free form of advertising, why not? Just don't spend too much time searching for friends or looking at people's profile pictures.

Cost: Minimal
Time Consumption: Moderate
If I go to a reading, and I enjoy hearing the author, it's almost a guarantee that I'm going to buy their book. Readings allow people to sample the product. Hopefully they'll like what they hear. Of course, the hardest part is getting asses in the seats. Places like RUI and Uptown Writer's Space have ready made audiences so you don't have to panic that no one's going to show. But if you're reading at a bookstore, make sure to update the website, invite every single Facebook and MySpace friend, and hope for the best.

To effectively promote, it takes a combination of a few methods, and you always have to weigh the cost and time consumption against the potential results. Any other methods I'm missing? Anyone have a unique and effective way to spread the word?


Jon The Crime Spree Guy said...

I don't think book trailers sell books. Not unless you have it showing before batman.

Picks By Pat said...

Join a few listservs. I joined DorothyL and announced my book on it. The next day, the hits on my website were up 900 %.

I also gave away copies of my book in a weekly drawing and announced the winners on my website. Hopefully, I built the beginnings of a fan base.