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Monday, November 7, 2011

PROMOTION: Does All This Work?


Wish for the Moon is the next release in print.
My first contract was in 2007, and since then I have dutifully carried out many promotion suggestions. Each publisher requires me to join the Yahoo Group for the authors of the company, and a second Group usually called Connections--to interact with readers. For me, that's six publishers, meaning twelve groups. In addition, I joined a select few Yahoo Groups that I felt fit my style of writing. Half of these are Groups sponsored by review sites.

I've had my blog for almost three years, and I'm also co-owner of a group blog, consisting of fourteen authors. I also signed on with two additional group blogs. My website is all set up and I do try to update it on a regular basis. (I think I'm a little behind at this moment.) At least once a day, I visit a Group and/or blog to pay attention to other authors.

Over the span of about three to four years, I have guest blogged approximately twice a month. I've written a few articles. Then I joined FB and began a learning curve, which has not yet reached the zenith. I joined Goodreads, Writers and Readers of Distinctive Fiction, and several other .ning groups. Recently, I succumbed to Twitter..ing.

So far, I have not paid a cent for an ad of any sort, nor have I bought bookmarks or any other giveaways. However, I do have business cards which I had printed at Office Depot when they had a 50% off sale on such things. I ended up with 3,000 business cards--with 2,800 left. I forget to take them with me.
Alas, I cannot list book signings among my many duties. They frighten me to death. I did have a successful book party at my house, though.

After the first print I sold from my home, I constructed an extended email list of acquaintances. Then I made a one-page document I call a Sell Sheet to "pre-sell" the book. This attachment contains the cover, the blurb, where to buy, and a very short excerpt. Most importantly, I list the retail price for the print, the discounted price I will give them, and promise to pay the postage. In addition, I offer to buy the book for them from my publisher, using my author's discount, and deliver the book when it arrives. Among my acquaintances in town, I have sold between 25-65 copies, depending on the book and the whim of the consumer.
And now I am planning a book-signing for December. However, I will still email the Sell Sheet so I will know how many I have presold. This time I will order extras for the signing.

Where will I hold this book signing? At a local coffee house owned by a congenial young man who owns three of these establishments in this university town. He has permitted this for a couple of other authors--and does not charge a fee. When the date is set and all is ready, I will email the purchasers and inform them they may pick up their book at the coffee house--I'm hoping most of them will do this. (Note: My writing group, The Write Girls, meet at this coffee house every Tuesday morning.)
For the first time, I'll ask our local newspaper to print a press release. I have one cut out of the paper they printed for an author from another town. That one will be my pattern.

We'll see if this works. The Best Laid Plans of Mice and Men... and all that.
Celia Yeary-Romance...and a little bit 'o Texas  
http://www.celiayeary.blogspot.com
http://www.celiayeary.com
http://sweetheartsofthewest.blogspot.com

25 comments:

Paula Martin said...

Best of luck with the book-signing, Celia - something I've not tried yet. I don't think anyone really know what aspect of promotion works and what doesn't, therefore we have to try everything. But it is incredibly time-consuming!

Paula Martin said...

Forgot to add, I made my own business cards and bookmarks - no cost apart from card (which I already had) and printer ink.

Caroline Clemmons said...

Celia, I believe in doing whatever is FREE for promo. I have promoted like crazy and my Kindle books from my backlist are selling well. I don't think I've been as effective with my TWRP books, but I'm trying to emulate Beth Trissel now and do more promo on my blog for myself. For the past few months, I've mostly promoted other authors. Duh! Yep, I caught on. Now I'll do a mix and see if my sales change.

LK Hunsaker said...

Celia, I can't imagine doing all of those Yahoo groups. They're overwhelming to me the way so many conversations go on at once. Now I can work on 4 books at once, but the groups bother me. ;-)

What has worked best for me over the past seven years of trying most everything under the sun: signings with excerpts and flyers available. I can sell more over one summer of doing several fairs than I do online in a couple of years. People like that personal connection.

Make sure to have info you can hand out, though! You have your sell sheet you can print. I've seen authors with nothing to send with the potential reader and they promptly walk away and forget the writer's name. On the other hand, I've had people take my excerpt, walk away, read a bit of it, and come back and buy. Well worth the money of printing them.

Good luck with your first signing! I know you'll do well. :-)

Karenna Colcroft said...

I tried a book signing for my young adult stuff--and the only people who showed up were friends and family who came to support me. The store was very out of the way (not much foot traffic), plus I've had several bookstore owners and authors tell me that signings don't always work well for young adult because teenagers don't go and their parents figure the teens are old enough to choose their own books. I don't even try signings for my romances, because most of my romance stuff is novellas and they aren't available in print, only e-format. (I signed up for Kindlegraph, though, so people can get my "autograph" for their Kindle copies of my books.)

I'm still trying to get the hang of Twittering and Facebooking, and all those other things (Goodreads, etc.) I do belong to a number of Yahoo groups, and I do guest blogs plus host other authors on my blog.

I'm with Caroline--free is best! Unfortunately, my books don't sell well because I'm apparently not doing a very good job of getting my name out there. I'm in the process of revamping my promo plan, along with my romance branding. My young adult stuff is under a different name; I'm having trouble promoting that effectively too, but at least I have a solid brand there.

Gail Pallotta said...

Hi Celia,
I think you'll have fun at the book signing.My current book is an e-book, so I'm not holding any book signings. However, I had them with my first book. They worked well. I took copies of reviews, copies of newspaper articles and excerpts and made up a list of comments--feedback from readers. As people passed by I'd ask if they wanted to read about my book. Since I wasn't a well known author, lots of people thought I was customer service, so I thought it was important to point out in some way that I had out a book. I also did tell them where the restrooms were, etc., if I knew. Didn't mind a bit. LOL. I wish you lots of luck and fun with your book signing.

Chicki said...

Great post, Celia!

I also do everything under the sun to promote my e-books, but the one thing I do know that works every time is doing features on the high-volume e-book sites like eReader News Today, Frugal eReader, Daily Cheap reads, etc.

Each time I have a feature (paid or free) it results in a minimum of 200 hundred sales that day.

Unfortunately, the wait for these sites can be months, so you just have to be content with whenever they can get you in.

Lauri said...

Have fun at the book signing! It's hard to say what works and what doesn't. I believe if you're comfortable with it, do it, if not, don't. And of course, keep writing.

StephB said...

Celia,
Great post - full of inspiration. I don't do book signings, though I will admit they are daunting, I simply do not have the time.

As for promo, it's a bear. I'm on a ton of YahooGroups, FB, Twitter, LinkedIn (still) and I usually get a cover ad on my favorite sites: TRS, Long & Short and one or two various other sites. I also try to plug my videos as well. I also use Zazzle to make my cover postcards and cover mugs, but I've started using my friend, Lori Powell's, sewing designs in my recent giveaways and those who have received them are duly impresses.

I also try to stay active on the blogs. Won't go near those Amazon forums with a ten foot pole.

Generally, the reviews for my stories are great. I've gotten a couple of 3's, but I most get 4-5. Just recently, The Wolf's Torment received a 4.5 Books from Long & Short and was nominated for Book of the Week.

That said, I think I've started to get my name out there, but sadly, I don't have the kind of sales that I would like. Especially with my 99 cent story on Amazon. I'm still plugging away and praying that one day I'll go "viral."

Smiles
Steph

Linda LaRoque said...

I'm dealing with the promotion issue right now, Celia. I have a time travel coming out the 23rd of this month and a futuristic story coming out early December. I've slacked off on posting on loops, but am on Facebook often and Twitter. It's all the loops that throw me for a loop. (Grin!) But, I'll keep trying.

Good luck with your book signing. You'll have a good time.

Celia Yeary said...

Paula--I'll let you know how this works.. not looking forward to it, but my husband is making all kinds of suggestions. At least, he's behind me.
Oh,I'm glad to find another frugal person. My genetic make-up is to save money whenever possible. If it's not, then by golly, I spend it!

Celia Yeary said...

Yeah, free is good!
I think you're right about promoting yourself more. I'm always conflicted about whether to have more guests, or continue just blathering on here on my own little space. Don't know if it works...but I'm having a good time.

Celia Yeary said...

Lorraine--I scan digests once a day--that's how I manange all those loops. No way can I contribute on very many even in the space of a week. Most of the time, the conversations don't interest or involve me.
But...you have given me one idea I hadn't even though of. And that is to have the handouts at the signing. Such a simple thing...yes, definitely I'll follow your advice there.
We don't have many fair or festivals close enough to do anything there, or I might try it. Otherwise, I just keep plugging along.

Celia Yeary said...

Karenna--some of mine sell well, others do not. I don't think it's the publisher, particularly...I blame it on myself for not promoting. However, my first books with a certain publisher have been there over two years, and are still selling. I found that many, many people like a series, and if they like one...they'll look for others. That was my one big mistake...not enough series.
I know little about YA books...so I have no idea how you'd promote those.
As far as romance ebooks--if you figure out FB, you can use that some. I started a little thing I called "First Lines Friday" and posted 2-3 lines from one of my books I was promoting, added the cover, and where to buy, and posted it. Those get some attention.
I dont have the answers, but I do know that you promote youself more than you do your books. You just have to figure out a way to get attention and have people say...oh, that...that's Karenna.
Good luck...hang in there.

Celia Yeary said...

Gail--they thought you were customer service? How funny. But you did the right thing. I like the idea of the handouts with reviews and excerpts.
Thanks for your ideas--

Celia Yeary said...

Hi, Chicki--the high volume ebook sites are something I have not tried...but I will definitely try them out. I'll at least check out anything to see how it works. If it resulted in that many sales, it must be a great tactic. Or maybe it was your book!
Thanks for the ideas....

Celia Yeary said...

LAURI--good advice....do what makes you comfortable. However, I have learned we have to step out of our comfort zone at times. Thanks for the comment!

Celia Yeary said...

STEPH--oh, I'd love for one of my books to "go viral!" Wouldn't that be a kick?
Oh, I know how hard you work at promotion. I think one reason you're able to do so much is your excellent organization. I'm usually very organized...but that doesn't speed me up. That's my problem, I think too much instead of acting. Thanks!

Celia Yeary said...

LINDA--I like that...the loops throw you for a loop. How well I can identify! Thanks for commenting...and keep up that promoting!

Linda Banche said...

Hi Celia,

While I agree that we have to do promo, I can't find anything that works. Nothing I do seems to help my sales -my blog, loops, guest blogs, contests, mailing list, twitter, facebook, paying for ads. I won't pay for any more ads because they're just as ineffective as the free stuff.

The worst part is, the promo drives me crazy, tires me out and I have no energy to write.

My solution? Cut back the promo to a minimum and write more stuff. I hope that if I have more out there, the people who do buy one of my books will like me enough to buy my others.

Now back to NaNoWriMo. 20,000 words and counting.

Celia Yeary said...

Linda--good luck with your NaNoWriMo! I get a sense many of us are burned out. The readers are out there--we're just not reaching them as we'd like. Take that break and just write--then you'll feel more on top of things.
I got to take a two-week break early in October for a road trip. That was wonderful because I had not time to do anything. But upon return, I still don't feel enthused.
Maybe the Christmas season will perk us all up!

Linda Swift said...

Celia, I'll weigh in on this one belatedly. I empathize with every word here. I do what promo I can and since I hadn't felt that online promo was helping sales, I decided to try book signings with print books. And I am having more success with that. I didn't have any luck with CD sales. But most people that I know, even the young ones, seem to prefer a real book they can hold and have signed by the author. I don't think the demise of print books is going to happen anytime soon!

Sandy said...

To be frank, I don't know what works, Celia. I backed off on promoting because of health issues. I'm just starting again.

Good luck with your booksigning.

Celia Yeary said...

LINDA--I'm so happy to hear that many readers still want those prints. It's true--I totally agree. A print, to me, is something to treasure--I call eBooks "disposable books." And every one of mine is an eBook, and about half are also prints. Those stick in my head....and yes, I can sell those much more easily than I can an eBook with all the promoting I do.
Ohhhh! It's so frustrating.

Celia Yeary said...

SANDY--sorry to hear you've had health issues.
I do seel some through promotion, just not the numbers I'd like to see. But if I did nothing...I'd probably sell nothing, too.
We don't have a good measure, except when a royalty check comes and you see the amt. and the number of books sold. But...that does not tell me which promotion tactic worked!
Thanks for your comment--good wishes for better health.