Say hello to this week’s guest blogger, Terry Shames who shares some tips about promoting your book…
This writer (me) has just been on a three-week binge. No, not that kind of binge! The book promo kind of binge. Promotion included a launch party, attendance at Malice Domestic Convention, library and book club appearances, a signing at a bookstore opening, sending out newsletters, touting the book on social media (including posting trade reviews), and writing about a million articles and blog posts. Okay, fifteen articles and blog posts, but you get the idea. And finally, last week, there were three bookstore events in Texas. My books are set in Texas, so doing readings at bookstores there is always on the agenda.
That means my life has been full of promotion. I think most writers dread promotion, but I actually like doing all the appearances and writing parts. What I find challenging is setting up all these things. Even though I have an enviably wonderful publicity team with my publisher, I still end up doing a lot of set-up myself. Unlike what the general public thinks, my publisher does not pay for the travel part, so I have to make it count.
So here is tip #1: Organize any book tour for maximum appearances in minimum time. That’s at least one advantage of doing it myself. I’ve heard of authors whose publishers send them to northern California one day, Arizona the next, and then back to Oregon or Washington. If you do it yourself, you can actually work out the route that makes best geographical (and economic) sense.
Why is setting up events a problem for me? Because every year I promise myself I’ll write down the names and email addresses of the people I’ll be contacting for promotional opportunities, and every year I fail. That means when promo time rolls around again, I have to search back through emails from a year ago or more trying to find the name of that sweet bookseller who was so welcoming and whose name I have misplaced, or the magazine editor who did a nice review. I’m usually pretty good at remembering names, but these names come at me in a jumble of activity, often too frenzied for me to commit names to memory.. And that doesn’t even include the fact that contact information changes—a bookstore event planner moves on, a librarian retires, a blog has been retired.
Tip #2: Do as I say, not as I do—write down all those contact names and numbers, so that you minimize the amount of time you spend on set-up when the next book comes out. It also means you have the names and email addresses close to hand if you need to ask a question or tell your host something about the event. Note to self: it isn’t too late to make that list now!
I like the in-person events themselves, because unlike some writers I am a sort of extrovert. What I mean by “sort of” is that I love talking in front of crowds of people, but oddly one-on-one is harder. I see people go off to corners to have long, heartfelt discussions with people they just met and I’m always intrigued by how that happens. It takes me a while to warm up to someone enough to have a long conversation. But get me in front of an audience, and I’m a happy camper. In fact, last week I was on a morning TV show, and didn’t have the slightest nerves. I didn’t know that I loved the limelight until I became a writer and started speaking at events.
I’m also comfortable writing blog posts, articles, and newsletters. I feel as if I’m talking directly to an audience, the more the merrier. I like to share information about my personal writing journey, about my books, about other people’s books, about anything to do with the writing world. I sometimes read blog posts that really inspire me or teach me something, and I hope to do the same. I feel for those who tremble in front of crowds or feel paralyzed when they face the blank page for a blog post or article. My third tip is for you.
Tip #3: For in-person events and blogs posts/articles It might mitigate your stage fright if you concentrate on inspiring or teaching. You have something to tell your audience that they may not already know, or that they may need reminding. Focus on that!
When I set up promotion, I’m always trying to think of something a little unusual. My latest book, A Risky Undertaking for Loretta Singletary, featured a recurring character who often provides baked goods to her friends and neighbors. I made up a bunch of recipe cards from Loretta and handed them out at events, and in giveaways I have given gift certificates to bakeries. One year I had a reading in a wine store that wanted to promote cultural events. Another year I was hosted be a clothing store—a lovely event.
Tip #4: Be creative in thinking of ways to promote your book.
Book promotion is exhausting, especially if it involves travel (flying or driving, sleeping in a strange bed, eating out a lot). But even if you don’t travel, you have to be “on” in blog posts or in person. So:
Tip #5: Take care of yourself! Get plenty of rest, give yourself time-outs, try to eat as well as you can, and HAVE A GOOD TIME.
Terry grew up in Texas, and her Samuel Craddock series, set in the fictitious town of Jarrett Creek, is based on the fascinating people, landscape, and culture of the small town where her grandparents lived.
The first book in the series A Killing at Cotton Hill received the Macavity Award for Best First Mystery of 2013. It was nominated for The Strand Critics Award and a Left Coast Crime award for Best Mystery.
The Last Death of Jack Harbin was nominated for a Macavity Award for Best Novel and was named one of the top ten mysteries of 2014 by Library Journal. MysteryPeople named Shames one of the top five Texas mystery authors of 2015.
Her sixth, An Unsettling Crime for Samuel Craddock, a prequel, January 2017, received a starred review from Publishers Weekly, which called it a “superior” novel with “resonance in the era of Black Lives Matter.” Read more from Publishers Weekly on An Unsettling Crime for Samuel Craddock.
Visit her web site at https://www.terryshames.com/