Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Getting A Book Published is Not 'The End' - It's Just the Beginning!

It's Wednesday!

And the first day of August!  Where does the time go?

Tomorrow I'm jetting out to LA on a plane to join a bunch of other writers desperately searching the key to getting traditionally published.  Because, after all, getting published is the ultimate end goal, right?  And after that we get to finally relax?

Uh, no.

At least that's the word from today's guest poster. According to her, getting published (in any format) is really just the beginning of a whole lot of promotion!

So...while I scoot out to play work in LA, I welcome in the always-on-task, Margot Finke!



Your Book is Published, Now You Can Relax.  WRONG!

By Margot Finke

Writing books is the easy part. Promoting them often makes you want to tear out your hair.  YIKES!!



Promotion needs to start long before your book is published. Set up a blog or a website that chronicles the progress of your upcoming book. You want to whet the appetite of prospective readers.  The idea is to design your BRAND.  You want people to associate your name with being an Author of Books for Kids. 


If your book has a particular theme or unique aspect or topic, try to find games, puzzles, and other crafts that will tie in and interest kids.  All this takes time and research, so begin now.  Design a business card and some bookmarks that have your name, book and web address on them.  Kids love a bookmark gift, and hand out those business cards to everyone – the butcher, the doctor and the priest.  Everyone you come in contact with is a potential buyer of your book. Plan your book trailer.  If you can do that yourself – fine.  If not, Blazing Trailers do an awesome job for a very reasonable fee. http://www.blazingtrailers.com/services.php


Being ACTIVE on Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, JacketFlap and Google+ helps  “Brand” you as an author.  Active means contributing comments and answers as well as asking questions.  Your name being seen often in relation to books for kids will begin to register over time. Join groups on Linkedin and Facebook that cater to those wanting to learn about book promotion. Ask questions, pick brains, and read everything to do with how to promote books.


Design a signature line that you put at the end of everything you write or send out – on e-mails, letters, posts on ALL social networks, the gas bill, and your son’s dentist bill.  The more your name is associated with Books for Kids the faster sales will come. 


Think of it this way: they may be old and wrinkly – but they have grandkids who read.  Or young and single – but they have younger siblings or nephews who need a birthday gift.  You don’t have to be parents to need access to wonderful books for the kid in your life – everyone has them!


Does your book have a wide appeal, or is it more of a niche item – or both?  If you write about domestic animals, then your niche could be Vets, animal rescue, or some such – depending on the plot.  Christian themes do well in church clubs, etc.  See what I mean?  Every book you write has its own niche somewhere. It is your job to find that niche, and work it ‘till it squeals!  Look for local events or craft fairs where you can set up a stall and SELL! SELL! SELL!  The Internet can help you look for niches that fit the particular theme or message your story offers.  Are you out of breath yet?


Master the art of the KILLER Press Release - one page + a short Bio. It must encapsulate, in an attention grabbing way, all about your upcoming book, and you the author. Add a great cover shot.  FOCUS on your main message, and aim for tight and terrific.   

Get your book on Amazon - and in Kindle etc, if it is a MG or YA. Spend time on Amazon discovering the different ways they give you to promote your book, and get your message across to buyers.  Don’t forget B and N and their Nook reader either.


Online children’s writing lists are a great way for new writers to find book reviewers.   A terrific book review on Amazon can mean more sales!  Ask members for recommendations to reviewers who do a great job and have a wide readership.  Hunt for readers who will give you terrific reviews you can post on your blog or website, and on Amazon and other places.   Offer a FREE copy of your book to one lucky commenter on your blog.  Have downloadable coloring sheets online for your picture books.  Kids love this.  Interview one of your main characters on your blog.  Kids love when the interviewee is a critter.  Be creative about the content of your blog.  Think out of the box.  Go for the WOW factor!  Blog often to keep readers HOOKED.


Make that phone book work for you.  Schmooze for radio, TV, and local newspaper interviews about you and your book.   Make notes of your major points before you dial. That way you won’t forget to mention them.  If there are any small bookstores left in your area, visit and offer a book signing.   Give them a nice sign for their window, ahead of time, and leaflets to hand out to customers.  Make sure they have a supply of your books. On the day, bring balloons, a sign for your table, some pens, and at least one door prize.  Let the local paper know about the event date.  This is also free publicity for the bookstore, so tell them about it.  


Contact schools in your county, and set up school visits.  Plan a fun and informative presentation, along with a reading of your book.  Discuss at length what you are prepared to offer with the teacher, and what the teacher wants from you.  Be prepared to negotiate everything, including your fee.  Strapped schools can’t pay much, but more affluent ones can, and should pay for your time and talent.  People (and schools) value what they pay for.  So always ask for something.  Your time IS worth their money.  The longer you stay, and the more classes you visit, the higher your fee.  My advice is never go below $50.00.   $150 and up is reasonable for one day – often more.  The more books you publish, and the better your presentation, the more you can charge.  Word travels fast among teachers.  And never more than 3 classes in one day.  It is fun and wonderful work, but more than 3 classes per day means you arrive for the 4th class dragging your feet.


For both schools and book signings anywhere, NEVER leave it up to them.  They forget sometimes even that you are coming!!  Check back to make sure what they promised IS going to be there.  And of course Virtual School Visits – Skype Makes it Happen is a whole other article. . .


Marsha Freidman of EMSI has a fantastic website full of helpful advice and clues about all aspects of book promotion.  Here is a link to one of her articles.
http://emsincorporated.com/you-need-publicity-for-your-book/?utm_source=BlogGlue_network&utm_medium=BlogGlue_Plugin 

The promotion game rules are the same for whatever genre you write.  Do your homework, know your audience, and get out there and REEL them in. Writing a book is a task that has a beginning and an end.  Once polished and published, it’s DONE! 

Promotion, however, is a never ending game of you trying to find new stores, organizations,  or moms, grand-moms, and other buyers for your book.

Gird your loins (love that phrase) for the long haul, mate: promotion, like death and taxes, is always with us!!

Margot Finke
Books for Kids – Manuscript Critiques - 
http://www.margotfinke.com

Comments are open!  And join us next week for Lori Degman's recap of the SCBWI Annual Conference in LA!

22 comments:

  1. Yikes, promoting a book is certainly a daunting task. Lots of good ideas here. Thanks for the advice.

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  2. I'm feeling stressed and overwhelmed with all the things to do! Thanks, Margot, for these great details!

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  3. Wow. i am overwhelmed and I don't have a published book yet. It doesn't hurt to get a head start on some of these like building our platform. Thanks, Margot!

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  4. Thanks for all the excellent advice, Margot!

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  5. Excellent and broad advice about book promotion. Many thanks, Margot!

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  6. Thank you Margot! You don't pull any punches. Loved your last line! That sums it up well!

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  7. Wow! This article could not be more comprehensive. I started sweating reading it and I don't even have a book to promote yet! :-) I'll be bookmarking this to reference over and over again. Thank you so much!!

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  8. I love these tips - Thank you!

    I would actually look forward to alternating my writing time with book-promoting activities where I could meet and talk with real, live kids and people who like books as much as I do!

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    Replies
    1. Cathy, that is a great idea. Spending time as a volunteer teacher's aid lets writers get a feel for the age they are writing for - speech, dress, actions and body language.
      Knowing your readership is vital!!

      BOOKS for KIDS - Manuscript Critiques
      http://www.margotfinke.com

      Delete
  9. It is good to be prepared ahead of time for the promotion of one's book. Thanks for listing the possiblitiies in a clear concise format, Margot. This will go into my "platform" file for the future. Most, if not all your suggestions seem enjoyable and not draining, as long as they are done in moderation. I'm actually looking forward to the day I can put these into practice!

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  10. Thanks everyone for your kind comments. Lovely to hear from all of you. I always get a kick out of helping writers scale the ladder to publication.

    And, as a TREAT for all who comment, and their kids, below are links to two FREEBY DOWNLOADS of mine

    SHORT and SWEET - a sneak peek into 8 of my books. See what will "hook" your child on reading.
    http://myplace.frontier.com/~mfinke/Short%20and%20Sweet.htm#short

    A FREE short adventure that brings characters from my 3 latest books together in a fun story set in Australia:
    http://myplace.frontier.com/~mfinke/FREE%20T&C%20Download.htm#FREE

    BOOKS for KIDS - Manuscript Critiques
    http://www.margotfinke.com

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  11. Thanks for a good article with lots of great ways to promote our books, Margo. As several others have said, it can feel overwhelming. Doing it in baby steps is one way to tackle the task. And I think it's fine to recognize that we shouldn't feel like we have to do every single one of these things.

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  12. Evelyn you are right. A good idea is to make lists. Then split them up into weeks. Cross off each one as you complete it, and then move on to the next one on your weekly TO PROMOTE list. You can get great satisfaction from crossing off a week's worth of promo chores, and even MORE from crossing off one week and moving on to the next. It gets done, but without the hair tearing and high blood pressure peaks!!

    Hey folks, don't forget to download the FREEBIES above. I had great fun writing them, and would love to know they are out there being enjoyed
    .

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  13. Terrific article. What I'm learning to do is cross referencing my marketing efforts constantly and marking off what doesn't work with a big read cross through and what has worked in the past. And to never ever delete what hasn't worked in the past because with the ever changing technology what didn't work before may work later.

    Have a great time in LA and safe travels!

    All the best,
    Donna

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    Replies
    1. That's a terrific idea, Donna. Thanks for the smart idea.

      BOOKS for KIDS - Manuscript Critiques
      http://www.margotfinke.com

      Delete
  14. Thanks so much for all of your great advice Margot. Steve Harrison says the difference between the overwhelmed and the successful is that the successful just kept moving forward in spite of being overwhelmed. We just have to do something to go forward, no matter how overwhelmed we are, in order to get our books out there. Taking steps to promote your book means getting from where you are, to where you want it be. I'm just learning all of this in a class I'm taking this summer. I'm saving your article for reference. Thanks again.

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    Replies
    1. Susan, so happy you found my article helpful. Steve is right. Our mantra is always "onward and upward." Prioritizing is another good tactic. Tackle what's vital first and then go down the importance ladder step by step.

      BOOKS for KIDS - Manuscript Critiques
      http://www.margotfinke.com

      Delete
  15. Fantastic article, it is so mind blowing trying to promote your own books. I love seeing what other authros are doing, but also get bvery jelous of the time some seem to have. Writing is my hobby and it's difficult to find the time to market my books effectively. Still I'll get ther in the end. Some really fantastic ideas here.

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    Replies
    1. With all the competition these days, it is hard to write as a hobby. Success usually means treating it as a business - publishers do. And even self publishing means huge amounts of research to make sure you use the right publisher and not get scammed. We all need more hours in the day, mate. Spares are hard to come by.

      Good luck with your promotion.

      BOOKS for KIDS - Manuscript Critiques
      http://www.margotfinke.com

      Delete
  16. Great advice, Margot. Thanks so much for the inspiration. Now to catch my breath and make my first to-do list.
    Maggie

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  17. Thanks for all the great tips, Margot. But it's too much like work, isn't it? Best wishes for continued success.

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  18. Maggie and Penelope, thank you so much for taking the time to add your comments. I so appreciate all of you contacting me here. it is good to know that my advice and suggestions have proved helpful. YEA!! My work is done - for 5 minutes at least!

    BOOKS for KIDS - Manuscript Critiques
    http://www.margotfinke.com

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