Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Promoting a Book: Part 2

This is part two of my blog about my book promotion activities. If you haven't read part one yet, check it outhere for more info. 
Book Reviews
Reviews can do a lot to help garner interest in a book. Good reviews provide potential readers more confidence in your novel and makes the book more intriguing. Knowing that I needed reviews, I reached out to more than 160 book bloggers, offering a free copy of my book in exchange for a review. Sixteen bloggers accepted, pledging to get me a review within a few weeks or months. Less than half have come through thus far, more than a month after sending them my book. I also attempted to get reviews from Booktubers, but have gotten nowhere with that route at this point.
In addition to book bloggers, I provided my book to free and paid book review organizations, such as Midwest Book Review, Booklist, and Kirkus. Some of these routes take months before you get a review, which causes difficulties since librarians and booksellers rely on these review services to determine if they should order your book. Another means to get a book in front of librarians and reviewers is to pay for a listing with NetGalley and/or Edelweiss. Working through my publisher, I opted to do both.
Author Interviews
While interviews don’t have the power of a good review, they offer an easy way to create more awareness. If readers aren’t aware that your book exists, they won’t seek it out. Deciding that any exposure is helpful, interviews also enabled me to present my book and myself in a way that seems more personal. Creating this connection with potential readers may not lead to immediate sales, but it does help to garner their attention and may help in the long run.
I found that getting interviews posted with book bloggers tends to be much easier than getting them to review a book. Interviews provide bloggers with content for their website and require very little effort or time on their part, while doing a book review is a commitment of 4 to 10 hours. I was also able to get an interview in the May edition of Fountain Valley Living, a local publication of 25,000 subs.
Giveaways
Amazon, Goodreads, LibraryThing, and YA Books Central are book-focused sites that provide simple tools for authors to run book giveaways. Interested readers can enter to win a free print or digital (it’s up to you which format) copy of a book. I opted to run giveaways on all four sites, tracking them to measure interest generated. While I might lose money by sending out free copies of my book, it’s an investment for the awareness created. I find that these giveaways help to gain the attention of hundreds of readers that I may not have reached otherwise. I just hope that it will eventually lead to sales.
Book bloggers love to run giveaways on their own sites because it adds more perceived value to the readers who visit the website. Any blog site that frequently gives free books out is more likely to get repeat business than one that doesn’t have that service. The fact is that people love free stuff. The trick for any author is to decide how many copies you can afford to give out and when the giveaways begin to lose their value because you are not hitting enough new potential buyers.
Advertising
I find that paid advertising is the most difficult aspect to gauge regarding book promotion. While there are many routes to advertising, deciding which routes are good investments is quite difficult. I believe that I will have to experiment with sites such as Facebook, Goodreads, and others in order to see what route works best. I have also been considering book blog tours, multi-media websites, and other potential marketing routes.
One promotion that I did decide to try was the social advertising route, getting multiple weeks-worth of constant tweets, Facebook posts, and other social media ads through a company that focuses on that type of promotion. Since that effort is currently active, I can’t gauge results other than increased product awareness.
Festivals and Conventions
The best marketing targets exactly the type of person who is most likely to purchase a product. My product is a fantasy book, so spending time and money on book festivals and geek conventions (like Comic-Con), is a wise investment. With more than a hundred thousand people in attendance, these events attract people who love to read and people who love magic and fantasy. Those are my readers. But I don't want to just be there passively, I am there in full force.
From a distance, you will see my banner inviting you to Discover a lost magic, buried and forgotten. Swing by my table and you will find it decked-out. We are wearing Academy cloaks and holding the lost book of magic. You can spin a wheel to determine your vocation rune and receive your temporary tattoo for your vocation. I'll give you a free bookmark, some candy, and am happy just to talk. Alternatively, you can buy signed copies of my books, with cash or credit. Regardless, I will make sure that the people I meet have fun and remember stopping by my booth.
Summary
As you can tell, book promotion is a multi-faceted venture that requires a lot of time, effort, and some level of financial investment. Thankfully, I have the help of my publicist to share in the workload, which is necessary because I work a full-time day job and am writing book and editing book 2. In the end, the time and money I spend now are seeds for the future, helping to grow a fan base that will eagerly consume the books I write. This effort is not only about The Buried Symbol, nor is it just about The Runes of Issalia trilogy. I am investing in myself as an author, hoping to connect with as many readers as possible for all of my future books.