Getting Bang for your Promotional Buck$

As
a former entertainment publicist, I’m a big proponent of the importance of
marketing and promotion. But when I moved from promoting actors and their shows
to promoting myself and my books, the game changed in a big way. I found myself
feeling very unfamiliar with a concept that was so familiar to me. So I started
talking to the professionals – from readers to booksellers to agents – and asking
them where to start. Those conversations helped me create a list of five
important tips to always keep in mind when PS rolls around. [PS = Promotion
Season for a new book]

I.                 Effective Social
Networking is KEY
What
happens in Vegas stays … on Facebook, Twitter, youtube…
I attended a webinar recently that was hosted by
Thomas Umstattd, Jr. of Author Media, and one point (which he reiterated in his
article in the Winter issue of the ACFW Journal Magazine) that really grabbed
hold of my attention was how important it is to differentiate between your
PERSONAL Facebook page and your PROFESSIONAL one. My reader page on Facebook has become a pretty awesome way of building my readership. My personal page is
where I can share private information, musings and opinions that I might not
want to share with the general reading public. Unfortunately, I didn’t discover
the importance of keeping them separate until well after I’d combined them, so
raking through them for separation purposes has been a long, slow and somewhat
painful process. So if you’re just starting out, let my experience shout at you
on this subject.
II.              
Understand Branding
What it does and (more importantly) doesn’t mean
I know this is a somewhat hot button issue for a
lot of writers, but I am a firm believer in finding that one thing that you’re
good at writing – and more importantly, what you’re called to write – and focus on that. Cluster bombing by writing a historical
first, then trying your hand at suspense, then jumping with both feet into the
YA market is not going to cement that all-important relationship with your readers.
Experience has taught me that readers may love the way you write, but what they
really connect with is your specific manner of storytelling. More often than not, that includes a love of your genre that will result in devoted readers.
III.          
Learn the Art of Crafting
Press Releases
Ready, aim, and shoot at a direct target
During my 15+ years as a publicist, I probably
wrote at least two or three press releases per week. That kind of active
experience teaches you something very important: Know your audience! It wasn’t
uncommon for me to craft several different versions of a release for one
specific event, and then send them out to the most appropriate outlets. I had a
pretty uncanny track record for stories being picked up by entertainment news
outlets for just that reason. Recently, author Erica Vetsch (we’re represented
by the same agency) reached out to me for some help on designing a release for
a very specific event, and I completely tore her first draft apart and revised
it specifically for the news outlet she had in mind. A few days later, she let me know how
thrilled she was at the results.
IV.           
Cultivate Word of
Mouth
You tell two friends, and they’ll tell two friends, and so
on…
Making a personal connection with readers is
imperative. A few great ways to do that is to reach out to book clubs, do interviews
with various bloggers, conduct contests for autographed books. Think of book
giveaways – even a large one, to a full book club, for instance – as an
investment in your future. Sort of like a Marketing 401k. 
V.               
Come to Terms with the
Importance of Book Trailers      
Hit ‘em where they live and give ‘em some eye candy
There’s been a lot of debate out there about the
value of developing a book trailer for a soon-to-be-published novel. Again, I went to work
and talked to a lot of people so that I could form an opinion on this
subject. 
“An
amateur-looking trailer can backfire and work against you, so carefully
consider how you’re going to approach it. Then do your best to use your trailer
in every way possible.” –Rachelle
Gardner, Literary Agent
(Blog post
dated 2/3/10)
“One thing is certain: publishers want trailers
to sell books. And a trailer, which can live forever on YouTube or Vimeo, might
just be the gift that keeps on giving…” –Edward
Nawotka, PublishingPerspectives.com
(Blog
post dated 3/24/11)
“When an in-house publicist has 3-5 minutes to
convince a retailer to invest in a particular book, nothing speaks louder than
a well-done, 90-second book trailer.”  –Maegan Roper, Publicist (formerly of
Abingdon Press)
“It’s becoming less and less common to buy books
by their cover. It’s more about showing eye candy to reel them in.” –Filmmaker Chris Roth  [LA
Times article
by Richard Verrier, November
9, 2011]
The dilemma here was that I don’t generate the
income to match a lot of the prices being charged out there for the good ones. Fortunately,
I had a friend who was in school studying video production and I sent her a
dozen trailers that I thought were amazing. She allowed me to collaborate with
her on a couple of my book trailers, and she’s grown it into a business! She’s
very reasonably priced; in addition, I’ve known her most of my life! So if you’re
thinking about a book trailer, feel free to contact Marian Miller of MarianCreates and tell her I sent you.
So
there you have it! My five best tips for getting the most bang out of each of your promotion
bucks. 

 
# # #

Sandra
D. Bricker
is a best-selling and award-winning author of laugh-out-loud
romantic comedy for the Christian market. Her most popular series (that started
with Always the Baker Never the Bride) will conclude this spring with Always
the Baker FINALLY the Bride
, which is now available for pre-order at Amazon.