I think the subject of promotion is a never-ending one with writers, and it pops up on every writers' board that I frequent. Everyone is always chatting about the most effective ways to promote yourself and your books, and no one seems to have a surefire, solid method, other than maybe Joe Konrath, who is the king of all kings of promotion and seriously, I'm in awe of the man and could never do what he does. But it works for him, so to that, I say kudos.
But yeah, other than Joe, a lot of writers are always rooting around, looking for newer, better, shinier promotional tools (Post-its! Bookmarks! Book club phone-in!), just in case we're missing something that might help get the word out.
I was chatting about this recently with another writer whose book has just been released, and I have to say, it's remarkable how similar writers' complaints and worries are: nearly every writer feels like he or she could have had more push from his or her publishing house and nearly every writer is scrambling to make up that perceived deficit. In my case, I've been really pleased with my promotional team - they continue to support me, pitch the book and line up a variety of things for me - but from what I hear, I do feel like I'm more of an exception than not. Our worries about sales and PR and marketing are virtually universal...after all, at the end of the day, while we might pretend otherwise as we bang out our manuscripts, this is a business, and in any business, what matters is the bottom line: we. have. to. sell. books. Period. Your next book deal depends on it, and your publisher depends on it so they can earn back their advance.
Which brings me to my thoughts for the day: what, really, is the best promotional tool? I think this can and will vary from author to author. Konrath swears by store drop-ins and signings, which again, I really commend him for, but (and this has been hotly debated on Backspace), I don't know that for me, that's the most time-effective way to go. I'm an unknown author, and who shows up to hear an unknown author to read, and sure, I could certainly sell a few more books that way, but I'm also a busy mother of two, and trekking out to dozens (or hundreds, as he does) of stores to introduce myself doesn't seem viable right now, though I do agree with him that it probably leads to better shelf space, hand-selling and all of that. Published authors out there, do you agree or disagree? I'm curious to hear your thoughts.
For me, I really think that the best promotional tool might have been starting this blog. I did it partly to promote the book and partly because I really enjoyed offering a counter-perspective to Miss Snark, a writer's perspective to this crazy industry. And what's been amazing, and I alluded to this earlier in the week, is not that I have thousands of eyeballs and readers and all of that, but via this blog, I've MET so many other writers and readers...and we all champion each other. I've been interviewed on blogs, and I've hosted interviews here; people have talked about my book, and I've talked about theirs. The blogging community not only has incredible power, it's also incredibly open and generous and kind, and so, from the security of my office, I can sit here and get the word out, and also befriend some fabulous folks.
Promotional tools I'm unconvinced of: bookmarks and doo-dads and various things like that. I've never bought a book because I had a pen or a stress ball with a title on it. Have you? (And I don't ask this rhetorically...I'd like to know!)
One new spin that I do think works: Book clubs. I've done a few call-ins for these, and they're not only superfun, they're a guarantee of books sold. So, for pubbed authors out there, if you can spread the word that you're willing to call in, do it. It's a great way to connect with readers, and I'm always surprised at how excited they are to have me! It completely cracks me up.
So pubbed authors, what are your favorite promotional tools? And readers, what are the ways that get you to buy books? I'd love to have a discussion on this!