September 29, 2009
Although he has his own website, John Grisham probably does very little self-promotion. When you have Doubleday on your side, most of the marketing is done for you. There are not too many John Grisham's out there though, so the unknown authors, with small publishing houses, have to be responsible for marketing themselves. This is not hard work, but it does take persistence and ingenuity. Follow this model, and you'll be successful.
My first novel, The League, was picked up by DNA Press in November of 2004 and will be released in May 2005 (unusually fast work for a publisher). While the publisher works feverishly to put together the cover, the press kit and the final galley, my job is to promote the author, me. In just three months, I secured have five reviews, done a national radio interview with others already arranged, submitted my idea to ESPN for a potential movie, and I've already received nearly 1,000 hits to my website, which has been published for just one month. How have I done it? Non-stop hustle, that's how.
This is not hard work; it's actually quite exciting, knowing the fruits of my labor will be book sales. Here's my plan to get as many people excited about my book as possible, even before it hits the bookstores.
First, I started sending e-mails to publishers of magazines and websites, whose content is similar to the plot of my novel. I asked them if they would do a review or give me a quote I could use on my novel's cover. While I was waiting to hear back from the 50 or so people I contacted, I began creating my website. If you've never done this, it's extremely easy and inexpensive. Just visit Register.com for more information. I had my site up and active in one day. Of course, over the next few weeks, I continued to improve it, adding my picture and a picture of the cover of my book.
Next, I started fishing for radio interviews. There's a number of ways to do this. I'd recommend starting at home, using a local author angle. I also went to shows that talk about fantasy football, since my plot surrounds this game. This is how I got on a national show, the week leading up to the Super Bowl. That night, 60 people visited my website, and eight of them pre-ordered my book — four months prior to its publication date!
As I continued to make contacts with media people, I created business cards with a picture of the book, my website URL, and a sentence on the back from the synopsis. I hand these out everywhere I go, and they lead people to my site, which leads them to the synopsis and an excerpt. This gets them wanting more. Your website is your most powerful tool. You want people there early and often. You want them telling others. I have my website beneath my signature on my e-mails. I send hundreds of e-mails each week to colleagues and friends. Again, this gets me hits.
I sent an e-mail to a colleague, who saw my website URL, clicked on it and looked at the excerpt. He came to me the next day and told me he had an aunt who was a writer for a local paper, and she could review the book for me. I was thrilled, to say the least. All because of a link to my site in an e-mail. The e-mail wasn't even about my book.
Finally, I'm beginning to arrange book signings, months in advance of the book's release. You want people coming out to buy your book, and guaranteeing bookstores customers is the best way to do it. I contact a store's events manager and tell him or her that I'm going to get 20-30 of my friends and family to attend my book signing. They are almost always willing to sign me up, because they want the traffic in their stores. Best of all, this guarantees that they will have your book on their shelves — an obvious necessity if people are going to buy.
So, if you want to self-promote, get yourself a website, business cards, interviews and book signings. Then, hit the streets and talk up your work. Learn how I did it at www.sportsnovels.com. And have fun.
Mark Barnes is the author of the new novel, The League, the first work of fiction, based on fantasy football. He is also an investment real estate and home loan finance expert. Learn more about his suspense thriller at http://www.sportsnovels.com. Get his free mortgage finance course at http://www.winningthemortgagegame.com