Book Promotion Tip of the Week #6.5: February 4, 2013

Book Promotion TipsReport on Our Facebook Launch

On Wednesday, January 30, 2013, John A. Aragon and I held the first “live” Facebook book launch I’ve attended: our own. It was a smashing success, although I may have one or two Facebook friends who are no long speaking to me.

You can still see the proceedings here:

John and I were celebrating the launch of our new novel, The Adventures of Don Valiente and the Apache Canyon Kid, and our kind guests responded in the spirit of the invitation and the book. Several people brought liquor, and others brought food (Tina Sweet’s Hallowe’en “munchies” were a highlight). A few people played us some music that contributed to the atmosphere, and a couple of videos attracted positive attention (notably the Skeleton Dance that Charlie Maze posted, and the Old Man’s Dance that Liz brought along). There were fruit sculptures, pictures, and even fireworks. It was great.

A couple of people asked us questions about how the book had been written, which we answered. We also provided some info they hadn’t even asked for and probably didn’t want to know (like how the sex scenes – of which there are really only 2.5 or so, but they are notable – came into being).

We held the launch over a period of two hours (7 to 9 p.m. MST, where John lives, in Santa Fe, and 9 to 11 EST where I am). All told, about 40 people dropped by with comments, congratulations, quips and compliments. All in all, it was more fun than some real-life book launches I have been to, and I highly recommend a Facebook launch as a way to attract a bit of attention to your book.

The only drawback was that apparently all the people who’d been invited (which was ALL of our Facebook friends) got notices by email every time anyone posted anything during the party. After about 100 emails, a couple of my friends alerted me to this problem. I knew, as did many others no doubt, that you can “turn off notifications” (upper right-hand corner of your screen) when you don’t want to get any more information about an event on F/B, but they didn’t know that. And a lot of other people probably went offline for the evening and came back to find their email boxes inundated with launch-related info. I apologized to them. I had not realized that unless you decline an invitation to an event (which some people don’t like to do because they think it’s rude), you get a notice about every post that relates to it.

Therefore, if you are having a launch or hosting any other live activity on an actual Facebook Event announcement page, you might want to warn your invitees that if they don’t want to get an avalanche of emails (or an “avalaunch” perhaps), they should decline or turn off their notifications.

For those who did want to attend, however, it was a great party!

Book Promotion Tip of the Week #2: December 9, 2012

Gold star

Reach out to your readers

Increase your online profile and attract new readers by commenting regularly on other people’s posts about issues that relate to the subject of your book (without actually pitching the book itself. You won’t make any friends if you do that. Just make sure that the signature on the comment includes a link back to the website where you promote yourself and your book, and that your comment is so interesting that no one will be able to resist clicking through to find out more about you.)

  1. Use your search engine to find subject matter that relates to your topic (in the case of my books about grantwriting, I might Google, for example, “funding proposals,” “grant writing” and “grant deadline”), and
  2. when you find an article, a blog post, or a forum topic that relates to what you have written about, read the item and then make an intelligent comment. (You do need to read the item because in order to attract interest, you must figure out where the article writer or the original poster is coming from, and you need to find a hook in the article – some specific issue or statement – that you can refer to in your response.)

If your book is non-fiction of any kind, this exercise should be fairly straightforward. If you have written a novel or a book of poetry, on the other hand, you may have to sit down and actually think about what subject matter you would like to explore with other individuals online. In the case of  my most recent novel, The Whole Clove Diet, again my approach is fairly obvious: I can search for forums about body image, blogs about food addiction and news items about the latest diets, and I’m there. But I can also explore other aspects of the novel by searching for “addictions” in general (there is an alcoholic in the novel whose approach to booze has a lot in common with Rita’s toward food)– or even ”stepmothers,” as my main character is one of those. For my first novel, The Woman Upstairs, relevant topics would include “mother-daughter relationships” and “family conflict.”  Even “oppressive WASP Ontario childhood” would fit the bill.

Keep in mind that using actual quotation marks will help you with a search: if I search the two words “funding” and “proposals” together without the quotation marks, I get a result that can go far outside my area of focus. If I put quotation marks around “funding proposals,” I get only sites that contain those two words in the text­ in that order: which is what I want.

Also keep in mind that you are not looking for other writers with this initiative. In my experience, writers are not great buyers of books written by writers they have met online. Most writers have their own agendas for what they want to read. So don’t bother searching “my first novel” – it won’t get you anywhere productive because people who are writing about first novels today are a dime a dozen (or even more in some cases).

Remember that the idea here is to contribute to the online discussion about a subject that matters to you and to other people, not to make a sales pitch. You want to become part of the online community that is writing about an issue you have explored in your book.

You aren’t likely to make immediate sales of your book this way, but if you become a person who is known to make intelligent comments on a specific subject area, you will eventually attract readers.

You have to give, many times in most cases, before you will receive.