22 Aug 2016
As regular readers know, “The Career Indie Author” is being written in parts. The section below on book promotions belongs in Section V, “The Life Cycle of a Story.” This takes the reader through the process of writing a book, from deciding what to write, calculating a profit/loss statement, researching titles, what tools are useful in composing a book, editing and revision and designing the cover and ad copy.
E. Promotional Opportunities
If you’re still deciding among equally attractive projects, consider which one offers intriguing and potentially effective book promotions.
1. Groups: Are there tribes of people who could be interested in the subject of your book? Your series of mysteries about a P.I. who customizes his muscle car could be promoted to car groups and advertised at car shows. Veterans groups would want to hear about your memoir of D-Day. Your Sherlock Holmes pastiche could be sold at conventions such as 221BCon and Scintillation of Scions.
Considering potential tribes could also affect how you write your book. If you heroine loves swing music, you may want to emphasize her interest and mention current swing bands. Writing about them on your website could alert them about your book and mention you to their fans in return.
Note: I would only recommend this if you have a sincere interest in that subject. Deliberate cultivation of a group’s interest without being a fan yourself could result in a negative backlash if you’re found out.
2. Are there media outlets (magazines, media websites, and TV shows) who would be interested in your book or in having you as a guest? In our world of 24-hour news cycles, there is always a demand for knowledgeable and entertaining guests. Publishing a book gives you credibility as an expert and that can lead to media exposure and sales.
Warning: Do not rely on this exposure to boost your career. One consequence of the 24-hour news cycle is that it takes a lot more impressions on viewers for your name and book to be remembered. Back in the “Mad Men” days of three major television networks, it was believed that three impressions were enough for a product to be remembered. Now, it’s believed to be seven or eight, or even higher!
3. Are there personalities or popular websites who could be approached for a blurb or cross-promotions? If you’re writing a book about politics, it’s possible to place an essay with Salon, Slate, or the Huffington Post, or to get a blurb from a well-known politician or journalist.
4. What kind of promotions could you do to support this subject? What would a video or podcast look like? Could you add a section to your website devoted to material used to write your book? One true-crime author who wrote about a shooting spree that was reported worldwide had a site created solely to promote his book. It contained links to newspaper reports, police reports, crime scene photos, interviews, and more.5. Can it be Kickstarted? The website that allows creators to solicit money for their projects has helped raise $100 million in the site’s first seven years. They include Josh Fruhlinger’s debut comic novel “The Enthusiast” ($20,159 raised), an illustrated edition of “Don Quixote” ($20,865), Megan Lavey-Heaton’s anthology of diverse fairy tales “Valor” ($109,965), and an anthology of speculative historical fiction about marginalized peoples “Long Hidden” ($31,597).
This is not to say that a book’s promotion value should be the determining factor in writing it. Consider James Joyce, who spent years writing not one but two long complex works solely for the purpose of wishing them into the world. The profit motive is a poor incentive for putting long hours and energy into a work, compared to the passion that the idea inspires.