Promotion is Not a Four Letter Word
By Sloane Taylor, From the Passionate Ink newsletter, April 2006
My book was done, edited, and at the publisher, waiting in line for its release date. Life was wonderful. So what was I supposed to do now? I couldn’t sit back on my haunches and I hadn’t a clue on how to proceed.
Through the internet I learned an author has to promote herself and her work beyond what the publisher does. But I needed major direction on — there are only so many disposable dollars and they had to be spent wisely.
Friends asked when the book signing party would be held. Since my book is e-published, I told them, “Sure we’ll have one. We can all stand around the monitor and stare at the cover.” After they stopped laughing, they wanted to know the day and time.
It’s embarrassing to have a party for myself. I tested the idea with other people who all thought it was good. New and insecure, I begged Linda Wisdom, my generous editor,
for advice. Her emphatic, “Go for it,” was all I needed to proceed with the first step in my self-promotion.
Beth Anderson and Yasmine Phoenix, my CPs, are brilliant women with innovative ideas. They too agreed a book signing was a must and helped me design the invitations.
Obviously only a small portion of these people will attend and that’s fine because we designed the invitations to have all the information needed to purchase the book.
The front page is the book cover. The inside left lists the title, purchase price, and the publisher’s website. The right inside is headed with, “Please come celebrate the
publication of my first novel!” followed by the date, time, and location. I included my real name, as well as my penname, the address, and then the phone number to
The plans are to hold the party at my house on the Saturday night after the book is released. I’ll print and mail invitations to everyone who has ever had the misfortune of giving me their address. My daughter and various friends will pass out more of the note cards to their circles.
Office Max will make a poster of the cover to sit on an easel and everyone will be encouraged to sign it.
The menu will be simple since the event is later in the evening – a few easy hors d’oeuvres, beer, wine, and soft drinks.
Anyone who brings a copy of the book will get it signed and a bar of the honey soap featured in two scenes of the book.
My next step in self-promotion was to buy pens from www.pens.com. People love pens, especially if they are cute and flow easily. National Pens selection was different and reasonable. I bought 2500 with two different inscriptions. The first has my penname, author, and website. The second has the book title, my name, slogan, and website.
On the loops, I read conferences needed giveaways. I was now armed and happy to pay the postage. I chose five conferences scattered across the USA and shipped pens for each attendee plus ten extra. I also enclosed a note card thanking the coordinator for the opportunity to get my name out.
The next step was to create my army of promoters. My daughter works at a restaurant and was happy to distribute my pens to her guests. She enlisted the other servers to increase my exposure. I soon learned servers in all restaurants like to get free pens since the diners tend to walk off with theirs.
I made a list of good friends and recruited them to pass out the pens, along with postcards that had the cover and book info printed on one side. Each of them lives and works in different areas of the city and, armed with fifty pieces, went forth to spread the word.
My purse is loaded with pens I dole out as I run errands. To accomplish this smoothly, I started using my credit card every possible chance and signed with one of my colorful pens. I then asked the clerk if they liked to read and would they like to keep the pen. There were only two out of eighty who declined, good odds to me.
But my army wasn’t large enough. If world domination was the goal I had to reach out farther.
My accountant was elated to join the ranks, and included a pen in each of her client’s tax envelopes. The salon where I become a natural blonde monthly not only
wanted the pens, but also the postcards. The post office, doctor, and my granddaughter’s dance school were all happy to help me promote. The list can be endless. All it takes is nerve and imagination.
Sounds cool, but where do I go from there? Again, on the loops, someone recommended three promo books. I zipped over to Amazon and bought all three. After studying them for an entire week, it seemed The Frugal Book Promoter and Jump Start Your Book Sales were the most informative. In two short days I mapped out my marketing plan and broke it into workable sections in order to succeed.
I dedicated $3000 for this venture. It’s a big hunk and more than I’ll make on this book, but my name is reaching readers. In order to know where my money was flying, I made a spreadsheet listing the product, cost, distribution, and return. One immediate major return are the new visitors to my website.
Chatting on the loops, when I have something to contribute, is another way to get known. Sending my book to the various review sites is good for exposure, but I must be prepared for honest criticism.
Next, I’ll approach the libraries and offer free writing classes if they will allow me to promote my book. And somewhere during all this promotion, I will make time for a professional photograph. I will need it to go with the press kit which is necessary to send my good news to the local papers.
Now if I could only find time to write the sequel!
When Reality Hits
By Sloane Taylor, From the Passionate Ink Newsletter, February 2006
Last year, I encountered a problem with my writing that nearly drove me crazy.
My first novel’s outline was finished: chapter by chapter, scene by scene. The book was completed with computer back-ups. Even so, I found myself caught up in an eternal editing mode that I couldn’t seem to break free from.
So why couldn’t I finish editing and move on to the next novel?
Because I’d become the queen of procrastination. I came up with more ways to laze around and not write than there were books at Borders. When I complained, Chicago crime writer Beth Anderson asked me, “Are you afraid of success?”
How dumb was that? Who could be afraid of of money pouring in? Of fans checking your website and filling your guestbook with glowing praises?
The morning after Beth dropped her bombshell on me, I drove along the frozen Indiana back roads and wondered why procrastination had become a way of life for me. The books was finished, and I’d entered it into every contest known to authors. I held the low scores to my heart with honor, never crying or looking for chocolate to gorge on. I’d sent “thank you” notes to all the judges, expressing gratitude for their frankness and insight.
So what was the problem?
The realization’s impact was so huge that I had to pull off the road. Although the temperature in my car was only seven degrees, sweat broke across my forehead. I recalled pitching the novel and three more in the planned series to a well known publisher. The publisher was excited and wanted a copy ASAP. She asked for a synopsis and three chapters while I finished editing the remainder.
My hands shook. I remembered finaling in two categories of the CONNections contest. At that very moment, the manuscript-from-hell was being judged by two editors who would determine the contest’s winners.
Bile rose in my throat. I was committing author suicide. How could I ever meet a deadline? How could I pull out the outline and notes for second book and begin writing; badgering my friends all over again for critiques? Worst of all, how could I help others when I couldn’t help myself?
What the…It wasn’t time for a sex scene. It was my moment of self pity.
I’m a good writer, no Ernest Hemingway, but airplane magazines had bought my travel articles. I’d never had a problem cranking out 15,000 words for those pieces.
So what was wrong now?
After a little self-analysis, I realized I had a misconception of what constituted success. True success should be the personal pride a writer experiences when a novel is completed, even if no one ever read the words.
Success wasn’t a thing to fear, but a treasure to cherish. Not many people in this world can or will write an entire novel.
I grabbed a notepad from my passenger seat and scribbled the thoughts popping like champagne corks in my mind.
• Remember: Writing is real job
• Set attainable goals and time frames
• Every morning, write a fresh to-do list of what must be accomplished pertaining to your writing; nothing else
• Set time limits for your writing; include breaks
• Drink plenty of water and eat
• Don’t allow distractions. Let the answering machine pick up the phone. Tape a note on the door: “Do Not Disturb; Serious Writer at Work”
• Follow Through
Reward yourself daily when you’ve met your goal. When I finished, I could treat myself to a couple of those day-wasting solitaire games as a reward.
I began to practice affirmations. Every morning, I said aloud,”I have written an excellent story with meaning and depth. It needs to be read by more people than my critique partners and friends.”
Every day, I sat down with a cup of coffee, my manuscript, and a blank piece of paper. I reviewed the previous day’s work and prepared a new list. The items marked for “follow through” were highlighted.
I wanted to succeed for the many fine people who had encouraged me, believing I could do more than sit in front of a monitor and grow gray hair. Most important, however, I needed to trust in myself and in my work.
After following my new approach, my determination returned and editing became a pleasure.
Even though this all sounds simple, implementation is difficult. Discipline is the determining factor. It’s also a very personal thing. You need to decide what’s important. Do you want to struggle with editing? Do you want to be published so people will read your work? Or do you want to type a conglomeration of words you’ll stuff in a drawer forever?
Be prepared. Fortify yourself for a tough time. Keep in mind that, once you learn what you’re doing, it will get easier with every page you write.
Have a long-range incentive. Beth and Yasmine Phoenix, my critique partners, have agreed to work hard and celebrate our major successes with a cooking class in Tuscany. What’s yours?