Publicity 101--Yeah, You Might Want to Do Some of This.
A lot of people say you MUST do this. I dunno. Publicity is a pain in the neck. I'll save the debate about whether or not it's fair to expect this from writers (or worth doing) for another blog entry. **
IMPORTANT: I'm only writing about what fits my experience. Your publisher may do all of this work for you. . .(but it's worth checking)
Several people have pointed out: You want to concentrate on marketing your name--it's more important than the individual book you're currently flogging. The book'll go away. You won't. . . you hope.
BEFORE THE BOOK GOES INTO EDITS (because the cover tends to be done fast):
1. See if your publisher will get a quote for your cover. If they won't, maybe you know someone famous? I mean REALLY famous? Okay, good. See if she'll give you a quote. Beth? Don't even bother with anyone the publisher digs up, even if it's Nora. Go straight to Laura. (personal bias showing time)
WHILE IT'S IN THE EDITING PROCESS:
MUCHO IMPORTANT--Run this stuff past your editor first. She's usually your connection to the rest of the company. (This advice comes from the woman who accidentally sent an email about publicity to the publisher and not a minion.)
If you have an agent, she'd do this kind of checking for you. Maybe.
If your publisher has a publicity department, make a friendly email/letter/call suggesting what you're willing to do for your book. I know Medallion Press actually asks its authors right up front what they'll do.
If you have to make your own ARCs I think they run at LEAST $5 a piece when you head to places like Staples. Mine were just loose paper (copies of the galley) with a coverflat on them. Where to send them? The list is below.
You'll definitely need those Autographed by Author stickers. Some booksellers have the stickers but they're often butt ugly. Most don't have anything for you to slap on the cover. And you need them for any other kind of signing, like conferences. You might as well get them from a fellow writer and all around nice person, like Su Kopil. . . . . http://www.earthlycharms.com/tools.htm that's Su's business's address. She has the pens and lots of other promo tools too.
You might get coverflats. They can be kind of cool and make neat bookmarks, but people like booksellers are often annoyed by them. ASK, don't dump anything in a bookstore without asking! Ever, ever, ever. Romancejunkies and other online sites seem to like signed coverflats. You can put them on tables or give them to friends to put on tables during conferences. Autograph them. Kensington and other publishers punch holes in the cover flats that don't go on books. Some people tie a little Hershey's kiss through the hole. If you give talks, put coverflats on the chairs. Write a number on one of them and whoever gets that number wins a doorprize. Susan Meier gave me that idea.
If you're interested in RT-- advertising is the only way to make sure your book gets reviewed--see if you can get a group ad with others from your publisher (or with a writers's group [another marketing bushwa, to be addressed later]). If you contact the publicist for your publisher, they might help you contact other authors with books out at the same time. Ellora's Cave, bless them, coordinates all this for their authors.
Yeah, consider advertising online (you can get a banner cheeeep!! On a lot of sites. And you can make your own banner and use it all over the place. I think cataromance has a link to the banner making software there. )
Using your ARCS... A surprising number of people think that direct mailings to romance friendly BOOKSELLERS (not reviewers) are the best way to use your ARCs.
www.pdf995.com The pdf995 Suite of products is a complete solution for your PDF creation and document publishing needs, offering ease of use, flexibility in format, and industry-standard security. And all at no cost to you. Pdf995 is the fast, affordable way to create professional-quality documents in the popular PDF file format. Its easy-to-use interface allows you to create PDF files by simply selecting the "print" command from any application. Combined with pdfEdit995 and Signature995, it offers numerous features. It's FREE and has many super tools that is as good as if not better than the very expensive Abode Acrobat.
You just download the driver to your computer, install. Then go to print out a document. Instead of letting the print program print, change it to PDF 995 on the printer software and it will make a PDF instead!Very easy to use and FREE.
Lorraine Heath has a list of Waldenbooks booksellers to send your ARCs to. Kind of obvious but worth stating DO NOT BOTHER SENDING IF YOUR BOOK IS NOT STOCKED BY WALDENBOOKS!! (she has a good article about the print publishing process here http://www.lorraineheath.com/articles/after_the_sale.htm)
AND here's her Waldenbooks romance experts list: http://www.lorraineheath.com/waldenbooks.htm These are the people to woo. Chocolates, flowers, Bosnian socks. They also tend to be lovely people, so it's easy to do. They like romance. They like books. What more do you want?
After you get the ARCs to booksellers--get them early as you can so they can preorder your book--hit the reviewers. About reviewers: Check with the coordinator about how long the lead time is for reviews****. You don't want to send them your ARC too early. People will write a review and post it. You want to make sure the review is up just when the book comes out for those impulse buyers. Cruise around the internet and look at sites to decide where to send your book.
A BIT BEFORE THE BOOK--see if you can be get interviewed. Sites like Romancejunkies and cataromance or ecataromance have great FREE (and paid) methods for authors to get their name out. But you guys know that already, right?
If you've got the bucks, consider hiring a publicist. Here's what to look for, written by Nancy Berland. If you hire a publicist then you don't have to deal with making the ARCs etc. My guess is you should look for a publicist right after you sell--she'll need to have time to set up the campaign.
We are considered Internet Promoters and Nancy is a Publicist - I feel there is a difference. It may just be the future for author promotion that an author would actually use both, because we have different services to offer. Yes, we do have many cross-over services, but overall I think we're different, each offering valuable assistance to authors.
We don't actually have a rate sheet to be honest with you. Each client gets an assessment of their needs. . .For example, some of our clients have one or more books coming out per month, have 1-4 issues of a newsletter monthly and need online and print advertising. They may need website or graphic design, which is our specialty - from banners to promo items, including cafe press stores, etc... We keep adding more services monthly - most of them client requests . . .
The majority of our promotion is online promotion, with a little foray into print advertising as we can fit it in. This is an area we expect to grow in, but not something we advertise at the moment as something we do for each of our clients.
AFTER THE BOOK IS OUT
Some stores will let you do Shelf talkers (little ads about your book)
here are notes I found about them (from Kathy Baker, a Waldenbooks expert who's on Lorraine Heath's list)
Make them look professional.
Don't try to use them at Borders but you can submit yourself to Waldenbooks and independent booksellers. Borders won't take anything that doesn't come from the publisher (same company as Waldenbooks-but different policy).
Look for stores that have book groups. Send the coordinator a copy of your book. Somewhere I have a list of book group coordinators for the east coast. . I have no idea how up-to-date it is and it hardly matters since I can't find the damn thing. I do know that's how I found out about Elsie.
Booksignings? Everyone has An Opinion. I think they're a waste of time and energy unless it's a group event or at a conference. Then at least you have people to talk to. Also conventions (like a Women's Fair) can be great if a bookstore is coordinating the effort. Then you have a bookstore that is grateful to you (because you will show up with a huge bag of treats for the bookstore people and signees) and you get to go wandering around and look at the booths when you're not "On."
Drive-by booksignings? Sure! If you're pleasant (and not aggressive), stop by to see if you can sign the store's stock of your books. I have a horrible time asking for this, though. I always feel weird about it.