Friday, October 21, 2011

Promoting your books and yourself

Wow, have I learned a lot about marketing and promotion in the last six months! Unfortunately, in the grand scheme of promoting books and myself, what I know fits metaphorically on the top of stick pin compared to what is possible. When I make time to research, like I did today, I come across unique approaches that hadn't even crossed the edges of my imagination. Today I discovered fantasy author Alexander M. Zoltai who focuses promotion efforts through his Second Life site, virtually ignoring (pun intended) other social media.

Collecting friends on Facebook and learning to interact in a valuable way with them has been the pinnacle for me so far. I generally just post a book release notice everywhere I am online (Twitter, Facebook, Website, Blog) and cross my fingers. I hear other Indie authors laughing as they read this. I think I even hear them whispering "lame, very lame". That's why I'm looking into what else I can do.

Lately, a few readers have sent email asking if I was thinking about doing Facebook contests or contests on any of my personal sites. I'm a Goodreads author and they encourage that as well. I'm not opposed to doing contests. I'm just not very clever in that area. At the risk of my womanhood, I will confess that I never host baby showers or wedding showers except under duress. I don't throw a lot of parties. My real life socializing consists of quiet, spontaneous dinners of under six people which are usually reciprocal to someone who has already invited us so I don't seem rude.

So this week I thought I would look at Facebook contests and see what they were about. I posted a notice asking my FB friends about them and got a few replies. I've been asked by author friends to help them with their contests, but I couldn't even figure out how to do that well.

Deciding experience was going to be the best teacher (as is usually the case), I entered a Facebook contest. It was a Reader's Digest challenge to "write your life story in 150 words". Twitter and blogging have made me a word count ninja (soft of), so I thought I would give it a shot. Publication was promised to the winner, so I immediately envisioned tons of Reader's Digest readers downloading my free book and discovering me. (Hey, if I didn't have fantasies, how the heck would I write?)

There are money prizes as well, but that's like a hoping for a winning lottery ticket. I prefer the promise of publication because it will increase my online presence and maybe find readers. Call me crazy. Any online publishing is important because all online mention of you moves your name higher in Google searches. Here's a link to my Reader's Digest entry if you're interested in checking it out. At the risk of sounding like a politician, "your vote is appreciated".

So using Second Life for book announcements and promotion was interesting and unique, but I also discovered today that you can list your blog on Kindle. It costs a Kindle user who wants it about .99 cents a month to subscribe to your blog, but the blog gets delivered directly to their Kindle device. Not being a Kindle owner yet, I am not sure of why this is advantageous over a free subscription to the RSS feed on the site or electing to have it delivered to email like I usually do. Maybe once I get my Kindle Fire next month I will understand.

I signed up as an author willing to do Kindlegraphs and wondered if anyone would want those for my books. I have been quite surprised at the requests.

It doesn't pay to be skeptical. Here's my mini-lecture to myself: "You published your book. Now you have publish yourself."

To do that, you have to find people interested in you. For best results, you have to keep an open mind.
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