Friday, August 9, 2013

Guerrilla Marketing for Book Writers: Winning Ideas from Mystery Author Nancy Wood

It's been over a year since Nancy Wood's novel, Due Date, was published. It's been quite a journey for this first-time author, trying to figure out book marketing. 

If someone had told Nancy that she'd be spending as much time on marketing as she spent on writing, she says, "I wouldn't have believed them. But it's true. And, if someone had told me that I would enjoy book marketing, I would have looked at them as if they had a screw loose!"

But Nancy says that's true too, and an unexpected gift.  

Book marketing has been a lot of fun. She's met many, many authors, writing in a variety of genres, and has read dozens of amazing books. She's had the opportunity to cross-promote, helping other authors promote their books and be promoted in return. And she's been able to connect with readers as well.  

This week Nancy shares her tips, techniques, and hard-earned wisdom on how authors can get their novels, memoirs, and nonfiction books out to readers in today's competitive marketplace.  

How--and When--I Started Marketing My Book
Last winter, after the excitement of a publishing contract had worn off, I got to work.  I went online and searched for tips on book marketing, eventually landing at a site called the World Literary Cafe.   

This site is dedicated to helping authors. There are forums for connecting with other authors and with readers. There are advertising opportunities.  

In addition, the site also offered courses on online book marketing, from branding to social media. At the time, I didn't even use Facebook, so I had a lot to learn. I signed up.

The Importance of Branding 
In two very full class sessions, I learned about branding yourself: creating a website, a Twitter account, a Facebook fan page, and a blog. I learned about book promotion, through reviews, book trailers, events, Goodreads, Shelfari, The Library Thing. I learned about connecting with readers by way of interviews, book club visits, and events at local libraries and bookstores. I highly recommend these classes or similar ones for newly published authors.

At that point, I built a website. I use a hosting service called iPage , selecting it because it allowed me to manage multiple domains and websites, as well as pick from hundreds of themes. It has a very easy to use drag-and-drop website builder. It's affordable. I've had my website for a year and a half, and have had just one minor problem which tech support fixed in a matter of minutes. I put everything on my website: my blog, my events list, a sampling of reviews from Amazon and Goodreads, a contact form, about me info.

Many authors use a dedicated blogging website for their blog like WordPress or Blogger. These sites offer some built-in services that iPage does not offer, for example, a way to collect email addresses or allow readers to sign up for a newsletter. Being on one of these sites also provides a way to seamlessly interact with other bloggers.  

I didn't realize this until I'd already invested a lot of time in my blog on my website, and have decided, that for now, I don't have the time to move my blog, including back posts, to a new site.

Connecting with Other Authors--A Great Way to Promote Your Book 
After my website was live, I added another feature to my website: an interview column. Every week, I interview an author in the mystery/thriller genre (sometimes straying off-genre!). I find authors through my publisher, the World Literary Café, or by emailing authors I've found on Goodreads and Amazon. My interview column has been immensely rewarding. I ask everyone the same questions. To date, I've interviewed thirty-six authors. The collective answers provide a fascinating glimpse into the writing process.

Twitter and Facebook Power 
At the same time I launched the interview column, I dove into Twitter. I followed the advice I received from my social media classes and started out by following other authors and retweeting their tweets. Then, I started tweeting about the interviews on my site. I set up two or three tweets every day, and then spend about twenty minutes a day on Twitter, retweeting, and reading and responding to tweets. I've been on Twitter for over a year now. I use a free service called HootSuite that allows me to set up feeds for different social media sites, like Twitter and my Facebook Fan page, and schedule posts.

I also set up a Facebook personal page and fan page. Some authors I know have three pages: a completely personal page, an author personal page, and a fan page. Over time, my personal page has become more public and I pay attention to what I post. I post author-related news and events on my Facebook fan page and fun stuff I'm doing on my personal page.  

Getting Book Reviews
I also learned that book reviews were important. Before
Due Date was published, my publisher suggested that I send Advance Review Copies (ARC) to reviewers, but at that point, I had no idea what that meant or how to do that! Now, of course, I know that an ARC is provided as a PDF to readers before publication with the promise to leave a fair and honest review. I'll do that for my next book. After Due Date was
published, I had to scramble. I found a read and review forum on the World Literary Café. Through that, I located some reviewers, as well as discovered other authors and books for me to review. A win-win.  

I also started looking for book review sites for indie books. One way to do this is go to Amazon, find authors you like, and see who is writing their reviews. Google those reviewers and find their contact information. Create a press sheet, with your book cover and book blurb, author bio, book info, like number of pages and ISBN, and start querying. Some people won't email you back, but some will. I found it was definitely worth the effort.  

There are other ways to promote your book. All take time. Find book bloggers in your genre. Book bloggers are an amazing group of people who have websites and read and review books just because they love books. I have contacted plenty of book bloggers with review requests and have been rewarded with some great reviews. Even if I didn't get accepted by a blogger, I found that surfing book blogger sites allowed me to discover what books people were reading in my genre.

Make sure you have a presence on Goodreads. Goodreads is a great way to connect with readers. There are hundreds of forums you can get involved in. As an author, I know I don't use Goodreads to its full potential; it's always on my list to "figure out." I do have my blog connected to Goodreads, so whenever I do a blog post, it's fed to my Goodreads page.

Blog Tours and Bookstores 
I also set up a blog tour. You can find people to pay to schedule your blog tour and promote it, but you can also do it yourself. Again, go to the forums on the World Literary Café site and search the authors hosting authors forum. You can also search the Wordpress or Blogger sites and locate authors writing in your genre.  

Most authors love to host other authors. Send an email! It's amazing how many authors I've met this way.  

Last summer, I also put my book in my local bookstore, Bookshop Santa Cruz. Bookshop has a consignment program for local authors: they'll promote your book, place it in the store, and put it on the website. If you have the opportunity to do this with your local bookstore, I highly recommend it. It's such a kick to go to the store and see your book on the shelf! In addition, I was also invited to participate in Local Authors Night, which happened late last month. It was a wonderful event: I'd been going to my local bookstore for 25 years, so it was such a thrill to be standing there on the other side of the podium!

And There's Always Film and TV!
My publisher, Solstice Publishing, also worked for me behind the scenes. Melissa Miller, the CEO of Solstice, works very hard to promote her authors, through the Solstice website, Twitter, Facebook, press releases, and a thousand other ways I don't know about. She has been working with a production company and I was so thrilled to learn that Due Date had been optioned for film/TV!

Solstice also decided to put my book on Amazon free for a week. To do this, the book had to be removed from all other outlets for a month. It soared to the top of the free store, at one point landing at #21 in the overall free store and #3 in the mystery/suspense category.

Now that my free week is over, Due Date seems to be holding its own in terms of ranking and reviews. So, all in all, it's been quite a journey with its ups and downs. One of the best parts has been the community of people I've met. I was invited to participate in a Facebook authors group, a We Are Not Alone (WANA) group. My publisher also provided an instant community of authors to connect with and I have had the pleasure of meeting several of these authors in person.

I've also found that just like writing a book, promoting a book takes a lot of time, a ton of creativity, and perseverance. I'm constantly reminded, over and over, that all you can do is get your name out there. You can't force people to buy your books.  

And I've discovered that for me, the number of books I sell is not the point. It's about making connections: connecting with readers, other authors, and bloggers.  

Discovering people who love books.

Questions?  Visit Nancy's website, follow her on Twitter or Facebook, or email her at

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