I’m thrilled to welcome publicist PJ Nunn to the Power of 10 series. Today, PJ shares down-to-earth advice on book promotion. A must-read post for all authors!
Book promotion today isn’t what it was 20 years ago. Or even 10 years ago. The industry keeps changing and evolving, making it increasingly difficult to get your book to stand out amongst the tens of thousands that are published each month. Once upon a time, that was the publisher’s concern. Today, that’s no longer the case. Authors now must excel in an additional arena, since writing a great book isn’t enough to assure record sales.
The good news is it doesn’t take a lot of effort to rise above the ordinary.
1. Go back to the good old days. In today’s fast-paced, digital age of communication, there’s something to be said for a hand-written thank you note or a friendly phone call. Authors who take the time to say thank you after a signing event, book review or a broadcast interview are still in the HUGE minority. In a time when just about everyone I know has, at one time or another, been annoyed at too many emails or text messages, I’ve never once heard anyone complain upon receipt of a sincere “thank you.” Sure, you might say, that’s a nice thing to do, but does it really help promote my book? If you’re one of a handful of authors among hundreds who make a good impression by going that extra mile, who do you think that bookseller will remember favorably?
2. Recognize your activities as a business, not a necessary evil or something that just has to be done. You may feel that way, and have every right to feel whatever you feel, but as my daddy taught me when I was small, you don’t have to tell everything you know. Sometimes, in book promotion, what you DON’T say can be as important as what you do.
3. Do unto others as you’d have them do unto you.
4. Be active in popular social networking venues, but don’t spend all your time there. I’m for promoting books long after the pub date, but if you want a career as an author, there should always be something new in the works. That means your time has to be well managed.
5. Shop around. You want independent booksellers to shelve your books and recommend them to their customers? Make a point of ordering from those booksellers periodically.
6. If you want something you’ve never had, you’ve got to do something you’ve never done. OR if you want to keep getting what you’re getting, just keep doing what you’re doing. Either way, the point is that if you want to move up to a new level, you’re going to have to climb out of your comfort zone somewhere along the way.
7. Make connections with others in the industry who get the kind of results you’d like to get. Ours is a very giving industry so don’t hesitate to ask questions, but it’s important to know the source. In other words, if you’re wondering how to make your book signing events more successful, don’t just ask at random. Ask authors who consistently have successful signing events.
8. Study the craft of promotion and make it personal. What works for one doesn’t work for all. It’s important for you to learn your strengths, staff your weaknesses and improve any areas that are unfamiliar. If you’ve not had broadcast experience (and most of us haven’t), take time to study the art of giving a good interview. If you’ve only attended one or two signing events in all your life, attend more.
9. Understand that in some ways, persistence is worth more than talent. I realize that’s not a popular opinion, but I have seen too many talented authors give up because of unrealistic expectations. Some of them aren’t writing at all anymore and that’s too bad. Of course talent is important, but who’s going to read your work and recognize your talent if they’ve never seen or heard about your book? Experts say it takes up to 14 times for someone to hear and retain a name. Repeat exposure is what pays off in the long run. Few, if any, people rush out to buy a book the very first time they hear the title or the author’s name. Schedule some activity that gets your name in front of a reading audience every month and keep doing that.
10. Read a new book every month. I’m amazed at how many writers tell me they don’t have time to read anything but their own work. Bad mistake. First, I hope you’ll always make time to read for sharpening your own writing skill. Then I hope you’ll read to keep abreast of what type of books are selling in the current market. Lastly, I hope you will always squeeze time out for reading for pleasure. It’ll keep you fresh and satisfied.
One thing I’ve learned in this business – what works for one, doesn’t always work for all. There is no one size fits all promotional garment. Unless you’re looking for something that fits like a muu muu. It may take some tailoring to find the fit that works best for you, but it will be well worth the effort and the result, in the long run, will be increased sales. It may come slow and sure, but it will come with persistence and consistency. If I can answer any questions or help you in any way, you know where to find me.
PJ fell in love with books in a Bookmobile in Tulsa Oklahoma when she was in the first grade. It’s been a lifelong affair ever since. High school introduced her to the joys of writing research papers and graduate school helped her hone those skills. When it came time to make a living, it’s no surprise that her love of all things bookish – mystery in particular – led her to embark on a career as a teacher of creative writing and freelance writer. PJ has a Masters Degree in Psychology and a specialization in Criminal Justice. As PJ became acquainted with several authors in the writing community near Dallas, where she lived, and online, she did a favor for one who felt awkward about arranging book signing events and media interviews. The rest – as they say – is history. She now works full time in the publishing industry, but still serves as a consultant in the field of law enforcement and trauma counseling.
Where to find PJ…
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Reblogged this on Aspirations of Flight and commented:
This has some excellent advice and things to keep in mind for one of the most confusing and fear inducing areas of writing…
Thanks for reblogging 🙂
Reblogged this on Michelle Eastman Books.
Michelle, thanks for reblogging. 🙂
Reblogged this on MythRider.
Reblogged this on Shellie Woods and commented:
Excellent Article on writing!:)
Down to earth, no nonsense advice. Thank you. 🙂
Reblogged this on Chris The Story Reading Ape's Blog and commented:
Great advice from author PJ Nunn – BTW, does point 9 sound familiar? 😀
Hi Chris, Good to see you here. Thanks for reblogging. 🙂
Hi Joanne – it’s a great post 😀
Reblogged this on Helen Treharne and commented:
Thanks to Joanne for hosting (great blog by the way) and to PJ for the great publicity tips. It’s so easy to expel energy on unproductive activities. Great content here that prompts some honest reflection. Love it!
Thanks visiting and for reblogging, Helen. 🙂
Reblogged this on theowlladyblog.
Viv, thanks for reblogging. Joanne:)
Thank you for this great advice, PJ!
Great advice, PJ. Thanks!
Always eager to hear from experts! Thanks for sharing.
Thanks for the great advice
Very helpful post. As an author with only one book out it is easy to get caught up in promotion and not write the next book.
Great advice, very down to earth, but focused, too. I’m constantly trying to get out of my comfort zone and for someone who didn’t even have a FB page until I returned to writing a couple of years ago, it’s been tough. I’m one of those who gave up but then came back to writing, and I realize you have to keep after it. Persistence is key, and I believe that’s what PJ is saying over and over, along with follow the golden rule in your promotion efforts.
Thanks, those were helpful suggestions.
Very good suggestions and insight. I agree about the thank you notes. When I get one I am touched that the “sender” recognized what I’d done had value and that they had taken the time and effort to sit down and pen a note.
PJ this is all awesome advice – I have to tell you I am a favorite of # 1. I am a stickler for handwritten thankyou cards and always make it a priority to send them out as soon as an event is done. People remember small acts like that because they know it takes time to do – it’s not as easy as sending off a quick text. It shows you put thought and time into it. And reading a new book every month is another piece of advice every author should heed! thanks for all the info. Peg Jaeger ( I’m also called PJ!)
Great advice! Thanks so much.
Reblogged this on NEVA BROWN & BOOKS.
Thanks for sharing your promotion experience, PJ. Your comments on reading are right on target. Also, for people who have any extra time, consider volunteering at your local library. Besides giving back, shelving books is a great opportunity to learn what people in your community are reading.
Excellent advice, PJ! It’s hard to know how much is too much sometimes. Your approach makes good sense.