Lit Fest Member Dispatch: Book Marketing 101

by Gemma Webster

Working authors John Shors, Lindsey O’Connor, and Benjamin Whitmer all agree: you have the duty and privilege to promote your work. On Thursday, all three offered advice on promoting books—and here's a bit of it for those who missed the panel discussion.

[caption id="attachment_6150" align="alignright" width="300"]John Shors, Lindsey O'Connor, and Benjamin Whitmer talk Book Marketing. Photo by Rob Cement | RCVisual John Shors, Lindsey O'Connor, and Benjamin Whitmer talk book marketing at a Lit Fest Brown Bag Business Panel. Photo by Rob Cement | RCVisual[/caption]

Be creative.

John Shors’ Beneath the Marble Sky included a letter to readers in the back of the paperback edition saying he was willing to talk to their book clubs. His publisher had never done this before. In fact, this had never been done before. His letter landed him interviews with local, regional, and national news outlets giving him free publicity and many invitations to book clubs (who bought the book!).

Do what works for you.

You have a limited window of time to make a splash with your book. Mix and match to make the best use of your desires and talents. Some suggested actions:

  • In your byline/bio direct people to your website and your work. Use live links to your book page and website.
  • Develop your writing community.
  • Remember the golden rule: if you want a blurb, offer to return the favor. This also works with book reviews.
  • Virtual communities like Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads, and e-mail newsletters give you a direct line communication to your readers.
  • Get to know the book buyer and staff at your local bookstore. They will hand-sell your book.
  • Make personal appearances.
  • Find opportunities to speak at seminars and festivals.
  • Become the go-to person on your topic for your local newsagents.

Create a plan for yourself. Be strategic. But first, write a good book.