Yay! Congratulations your book is out! What will you do next?
Now comes the uncomfortable part of art for many of us: commerce. After all that’s a huge aspect of the book—to get people to BUY it. In a world with literally millions of books that’s not an easy task.
I recently completed a second book of short stories, which I’m in the process of editing. Meanwhile, my first e- book, Sad Girls and Other Stories, is literally sitting there in the ether of American literature… and it’s lonely. It might even be lonelier sitting there in its tiny corner of the Internet than I was when I was sitting in my office late at night writing it.
See, you can’t just write a book. You have to find readers for it.
I spent a good amount of time watching, okay, stalking some of my favorite authors online to see how they did it. And then of course, I tried to emulate them. Here are some tips I can offer based on my first experience promoting a book:
- Get comfortable with social media. Oh my goodness! If you had told me ten years ago that I would be the shameless social media whore I am today I would not have believed you. You don’t have to have a Tumblr, a Facebook, a Twitter, a blog, an Instagram and the rest but you should at least have a couple of them. You should find out what each of them does and how they can benefit writers. You need to embrace social media instead of hiding from it. A writer who says, “I don’t do social media” is a writer who doesn’t want readers. Dig it. Your readers DO social media. Why alienate yourself from them? I started becoming a social media whore by doing what all mammals do—watching the successful writers do it.
- The Three Must-Haves: a website, a Facebook page for your book, and an Amazon author page. Even if you aren’t tech and Internet savvy anyone who is buying an e-book will be. Get it out there. Create a Facebook page and consider boosting the page for a small fee to get more people to see it. Post on your book’s page on a regular basis to keep it fresh in people’s newsfeeds. For example, I post an announcement there every time I have a reading. I post photographs of people who look like my characters and I post photos of the cities and streets where the book is set.
- Leverage “Connections.” Even though your ebook might be fiction, it’s probably dealing with some real world themes and issues. What are they? Identify them. Does your book have characters dealing with racism on college campuses? Is that in the news? Write a blog post discussing the theme and refer back to your book and your characters. Topics come up that your newspaper will never touch and you won’t see on TV but they are topics related to your book. You need to leverage the theme that’s going viral on social media if it connects with your book. My book has a regional tie-in with the southern California suburbs. The main characters are Mexican-American in non-stereotypical roles. I’ve blogged about, and shared on Twitter and Facebook, links and stories related to Chicanas in college extensively. My blog and the Facebook page I set up for my book always see more traffic when I’ve done this.
- Guest blog for other blogs. There are people who follow your blog but when you guest blog you have the possibility of more followers and more readers. I guest blogged on Chingona Fest –which is a Latina blog about strong women and their creations. I was a perfect fit and 5000 people who don’t follow my blog follow that one.
- Look at the region where your book is set and schedule readings there. Readers LOVE to read and hear works written by local writers in their area. I booked readings and have read short stories from the book right in the cities where the book is set! Simply reach out to bookstores, schools and other venues and ask what their process is for scheduling a reading.
- Offer guest lectures on issues that come up in your books and about the process of writing them. I’ve spoken at a few colleges on Chicana literature, writing, the creative process, and depictions of minorities in literature. Go back to your alma mater and offer to speak as an alumni speaker (you might get paid for it too—I did).
- Make podcasts of your stories—Maybe one of the stories from your book or a passage from it. Another podcast could be something new you are working on. Most laptops these days are equipped with some sort of recording capabilities. I’ve done mine with garage band and iTunes. Offer those podcasts free on your website as a download. People like free things.
- If you aren’t in community with other writers, find your community! They can help you and spread the word about your book and you’ll be doing the same for them. They can tell other people about your book. There are many private writing groups on Facebook for example. Ask to join. I personally have found my online writing family through Ariel Gore’s Literarykitchen.com. She offers courses in a creative and supportive environment. Do you have a specific genre? I also write horror stories and have joined a Facebook group just for horror writers.
Of course this might not mean sales right away, but it is exposure. The woman who did my last tattoo and a guy I knew from high school downloaded my book in the same day. I didn’t ask either one of them directly to do so and I hadn’t seen them in person either. Another reader heard me read a poem at a reading unrelated to my book but looked me up on Facebook and saw I had a book out and downloaded it. I know a writer who had a tee shirt made up with her book cover so people can see her name and the book connected. I know another who goes to festivals that aren’t book festivals. Whatever it takes. There’s so much to read for our potential audiences. We need to do our best to let them know we’re here.