|Here's a super
article from Anna Furtado explaining ways she goes about promoting
her lesbian books. She provides us with some wonderful hands-on tips.
Book Promotion 101
2005 Anna Furtado
The ink is barely dry on the contract for your novel and
now youíre faced with the daunting task of promotion. Yes, itís
time to start working on selling that book, in spite of the fact
that publication may seem as though it will never come. If youíre
like me, youíll find yourself morphing into the curmudgeonly Doctor
McCoy from the original Star Trek series. "Bonesí" famous Damn
it, Jim, Iím a doctor, not an engineer or some similar epithet
became my Damn it, Iím a writer, not a marketing guru. If you find
yourself overwhelmed by the prospect of promoting your own book,
here are some ideas to get you going.
Start with the big picture and general lists and work your
way down to specifics. Promoting a book for the first time may seem
intimidating, but taken in small increments, the task isnít so menacing.
Internet is a good place to begin. I Googled my brains out looking
for "book marketing" and "book promotions" articles, books and links.
After accumulating a long list of books, I decided on two: Buzz Your Book and Guerrilla Marketing for Writers. My reason for choosing
them was simple. They seemed to be very basic and touted creativity
as key. "I can do creativity!" I thought as I dared my inner critic
to disagree with me.
Your Book is an e-book written by MJ Rose and Doug Clegg. It
seemed directed at the neophyte book promoter that I knew I was.
I printed it out, and with a yellow highlighter and a pen, I began
reading. Every idea that struck me got highlighted. Every question
and inspiration that the copy evoked got jotted down in the wide
I write this article, Iím glancing through my dog-eared copy of
Buzz with all those yellow highlights and scribbles. I was
going to say something about how important it is to write down even
the most hare-brained ideas and I went in search of one to use as
an example. But I found that after doing the basics of promotional
work for a year, none seemed so far-fetched or intimidating anymore.
One idea I thought was totally off-the-wall was to create a virtual
reality kind of environment via my web pages that would allow a
visitor to experience Catherine and Lydiaís worldóa tour of the
shop of Hawkins and Hawkins, or a stroll through Briarcrest Hall.
It seemed outlandish at the timeóI didnít even have a basic web
site. Now, I find myself thinking "What a great idea. Iíll bet it
could be done." Write every idea downóno matter how crazy you think
I got through Buzz Your Book the first time, I went through it a second
time, making a list of the ideas I had jotted down and writing my
questions on a separate sheet. Next to each question I wrote down
the person or place that I thought might yield an answer. Finally,
I ordered the list of ideas, putting first things first.
Guerrilla Marketing for Writers by Levinson, Frishman &
Larsen evoked a lot of the same ideas I found in Buzz. Those few new ones were added to my list and prioritized
along with the rest.
sense is a good guide. When the suggestions made in Buzz
or Guerrilla Marketing clearly didnít apply, I ignored them.
Things like "Take out an ad in the New York Times" didnít seem very
practical for my genre of lesbian romance, but this idea led to
thoughts of other places and ways to advertise.
Establish Your Web Presence
My first priority was getting a web site up and running.
The old adage, "everything takes longer than it takes," kicked in.
My concern about paying for a web site almost a year before the
book was launched proved unfounded. I decided to revamp my web pages
and even renamed my site before anyone knew it existed. Technical
difficulties that took weeks to get sorted out were also resolved
before I made the site public. Time was on my side and the early
investment proved to be a smart one.
you donít know how to create a web page, ask some of your friends
or other authors. They may be able to help. Itís also important
to have a few people take a look at your site before you tell the
world about it. Is it easy to understand and easy to navigate? Does
everything work the way itís supposed to work? You donít want people
leaving your site because itís too difficult to use or it doesnít
a web site and associated e-mail address in place, I made a list
of friends who were interested in the bookís progress. I e-mailed
them every couple of months to let them know how the book was coming
along. In return, they gave me feedback that was encouraging and
supportive. It created initial interest in the book. This update
has become a more professional newsletter that I send, not only
to friends, but also to fans who have joined my e-mail list. My
web site provides an invitation to join the list and a sign-up sheet
is available at my readings.
Itís important to keep a web site up-to-date once itís created.
After the book is released, signings and book reviews should be
included on web pages to keep visitors informed.
Gather Your Promotional Materials
Postcards, bookmarks and bookplates, along with some business cards
that included my web and e-mail addresses were the next order of
business. This process is not as simple as it sounds. Finding a
printer may take some time. A suitable high-resolution graphic file
has to be transferred to the printer. I used my book cover graphic
on everything but my business cards. The graphic was available to
me a few months after the book was accepted for publication since
the cover design was done early in the process.
obtaining the graphic, the postcards, bookmarks and bookplates can
be designed and finalized. Proofs must be approved. Only then does
the actual printing take place. At lastóvoila! Your promotional
area that stymied me was the mysterious "promotional packet." What
was in it? I hadnít a clue. Back to Google, but everything I found
was vague with some information mentioning press releases and others
talking about data sheets. Talk to your publisher about these. Fortunately,
my publisher has a terrific publicist who was very helpful in providing
a data sheet for me. As soon as you have an ISBN number, a cover
and a publication date, a data sheet can be done that includes this
key information. The final copy can be printed at an office supply
or copy service on good quality paper for inclusion in your promotional
packet. Mine were ready about five months before launch date. We
also included an introductory letter from the publisher in my packet.
To this, I added my own "letter from the author," a bookmark, a
postcard and a bookplate. These all went into those nice presentation
folders you can buy at the office supply store. Use the folders
that provide a slotted area for business card insertion.
potential book reviewers (more on this later) I mailed a promo packet
and a copy of the book. To bookstores, I sent a promo packet and
the first chapter of "The Heartís Desire" printed on high quality
make the folders look more professional, I cut the cover graphic
from a bookplate and put one on the front of each presentation folder.
Since the bookplate had an adhesive back, this was easy to do.
One of my early questions in the margin of Buzz was
"How do you find book reviewers?" An Internet search for lesbian
review sites yielded a list. To ensure that the sites were pertinent
and still active, I visited each one. Guidelines had to be noted
or people had to be contacted to learn how to submit a book for
review. Internet writersí groups proved to be a good resource. Whenever
anyone mentioned a review site (or a bookstore) that I didnít have
on my list, I added it. A spreadsheet was great for keeping track
of everything, including the date that a packet was mailed.
thing of note about this process: People responded quickly and were
very cordial, encouraging and helpful. Most people were happy to
learn more about the book, and if they couldnít review it, they
often referred me to someone who could.
the review copies were out, I started compiling a list of all GLBT
and GLBT-friendly bookstores. The good news is that once you have
a list (reviewers, bookstores or newsletter recipients), itís just
a matter of keeping them up-to-date.
Brand Your Work
Meanwhile there were other tasks to be completed like coming
up with a "buzz line." After trying several that didnít fit the
Buzz branding intent, I finally hit on "The Heartís
Desire Ė Have you found yours?" It went everywhereóon stationery,
on mailing labels, into my e-mail signature and on my web site and
Customize Your Mailings
Iíve sent out two rounds of postcards to bookstores in 3
months. The first batch introduced the book. The second mailing,
done in early January, suggested that "The Heartís Desire" is a
great romantic read for Valentineís Day. Itís a challenge to get
a really good message with plenty of punch in the very small space
allotted on a postcard, but it can be done. I use 8-1/2 by 11 labels
with several repetitions of the postcard message on them. I scale
the message to fit the postcard, cut the label to size, and stick
it onto the postcard. The message seems to be printed directly on
the card, and I can customize each one. For example, I give postcards
to bookstores to hand out just prior to readings with the event
info on them.
a handwritten note (albeit a very short one) on the card telling
bookstores within traveling distance that you are a local author
and that youíd love to speak to them about doing a reading. This
has produced some e-mail responses inviting me to do readings before
I could even follow up. (My web site and e-mail address are pre-printed
on my postcards.) If you donít hear from them, however, a follow-up
phone call may be all thatís needed to get the ball rolling.
When I was looking at the possibility of advertising in
a local gay and lesbian seniors group newsletter, my correspondence
with the director of the group led to an invitation to donate an
autographed copy of my book as a drawing prize for an annual event.
This is classic Buzz Your Book strategy and I went for it.
An autographed copy, sent with a bookplate and a bookmark, made
a nice package. Hopefully, the person who won the book read it,
loved it and is buzzing about it to others.
Little things mean a lot. Always thank a reviewer. They
appreciate it. And when a fan writes, I always answer. It might
be no more than thanking them for their interest or their comments.
If they ask a question about the book, Iím more than happy to answer
it. It takes only a few minutes to write a quick e-mail and it can
generate a lot of goodwill.
In summary, I would say this about book promotion:
early (planning is necessary for successful promotion)
and organize (these are key)
patience, but be persistent (things often take longer than you
think they will)
lists and use spreadsheets
your creativity (youíre a writeróitís in your nature)
the "thank youís"
in mind that one-time activities are interspersed with those things
that must be done repeatedly.
important, maintain a sense of humor and perspective. When it all
seems overwhelming and chaotic, thatís what will get you through
Author of The Heartís Desire Ė Book One of The Briarcrest Chronicles
Web site: http://www.annafurtado.com
Distributed by: Starcrossed Productions (www.scp-inc.biz)
The Heart's Desire - Have you found yours?
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