Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Promo sweet promo

Today’s blog is about promo- what’s worth it and what isn’t. I’m not at the promo stage yet- but I’m always keeping an eye on what folks do.

What got me thinking about it this time was an article in the San Diego Tribune about certain large studios choosing not to participate in Comic Con International San Diego. The reason? They weren’t sure their promo dollars were best spent there at this time. Now, for those of you who never watch anything remotely related to entertainment news- you may have not heard of Comic Con. Briefly, it is a HUGE geek fest that pulls in over 125,000 folks each year and needs more room. Geeks come from all over the globe to be here. It takes over a huge chunk of San Diego each July. Yet Warner, Dreamworks, and Disney have decided not to do panels this year (panels: big dog and pony shows with some of the top actors in the business talking about the new project).

For a multitude of reasons, these three biggies in geekdom are staying away/reducing their participation from what is arguably the biggest geek gathering IN THE WORLD.

Why? They’ve decided at this point in whatever their upcoming project(s) is at- it’s not worth it. They are taking a risk- CC attendees love their mega panels and not being there could cost some geek love come movie release time (or not- we’re geeks ya know ;)).

Now granted- no author I know of could spend the type of promo dollar these Hollywood heavy hitters can (we’re talking ads that cover sides of hotels here folks- see the photo ;)).

But how do authors make that decision? How does one decide- do I do a book trailer? Blog tour? Post cards? Swag? Workshops (which can be seen as promo really). What events do you hit? I once took a big collection of paranormal romance writers’ book marks/post cards etc to Comic Con- they were gone very quickly. I’ve also seen free romance books being happily sucked up by fans at Comic Con (both guys and gals ;)). And more romance writers are crossing over and presenting there each year. It wouldn’t be the first choice for many authors- but trust me- it’s gaining in popularity.

So this question is for any of you published authors- speak to us pre-pubbed folks- what promo events/items worked for you- and what ones not so much? If you were just starting out what would you do to promote that first book all over again (or some of you MAY be promoting your first book).
Thanks in advance for your responses- you’re helping other pubbed and pre- pubbed folks.


  1. I just sold my first book and am yet to learn all about promotion. As luck will have it I'm moderating an FFnP class on Promotion and althought I can't ask instructor any questions, I got access to the lessons and I'm actually learining a lot on the blog creation and what not. But there's got to be lots more to it. How to get the word out you have a book out there? And from what I can gather so far, it all comes donw to networking. Read other peoples' blogs, leave a comment, reply, respoond and you'll get noticed.

  2. I write under two names and have to figure where and how I can afford promoting. Can't aford big bucks in an ad, but if get one for a super price and i have that money at the time, I will do ith for my current book.
    First an author should have a website, even one not published yet. it's tax deductible if you pay something to the place to have this website. Just make sure on it is nothing but about you the writer, etc--a business site, in other words. Facebook is free and so is twitter, though Twitter does not consider itself a social media site (something I learned). Plus you can blog.

    I do conventions, as a writer guest, and noticed certain books and eBooks of mine go up in sales on Amazon (where I can tell). So putting down Comic-Con (I grew up in S. D. (mostly El Cajon), so yes, I know all about it and used to go to it until 1984--I knew when it was a small con) may not be smart of those studios. But like authors who pick and choose what they can afford to do for promoting, same goes for those studios.

    I try to think outside the box and sometimes it works well. Regular ways have worked for me too. I try to find out if anything I tried works. It's not always easy to find out, but sometimes you can.

  3. I'm still pre-pubbed and with my cover about to be finalized, I'm trying to decide what to do as far as swag goes. I know my publisher will do some ads and is planning a launch party/signing, but beyond that and distributing ARCs, not sure what I can realistically expect from them. So I blog. A lot. I do the Twitter thing. I haven't done anything with Facebook. I hope to do a few cons next year but it will depend on what I can afford, so I'm going to have to choose carefully. The cost of doing Comic Con for big studios like that is a drop in the bucket, so I'm surprised they're scrimping on it. I'd be interested in knowing what kind of swag is worthwhile at cons--what do people want? Excerpt booklets? Are bookmarks passe? Post-its? Posters?

  4. Newsletters--I give a free weekly read. Also, I blog on several blogs, daily, yes, work full time at a day job, post covers on Facebook, and tweet about book giveaways. One of my self-published books, THE DARK FAE, really took off, selling over a hundred copies a day--so I'm working on a sequel. Offering more books definitely helps to promote older books already out.

  5. Promo's a topic near & dear to my heart. :D I think that, if done well, you'll connect with people who genuinely appreciate you and what you have to offer (your stories.) I'm also lucky enough to be a publicist at Entangled Publishing, pretty much a dream job. I think at the early stage, the key is to get noticed among your readers (in a good way, by contributing to conversations and NOT TELLING THEM ABOUT YOUR BOOK, at least not until you've hung around for a few months, being supportive and giving helpful and insightful comments) and then making sure you get review copies out to every book blog that makes sense if your publisher isn't already. Guest blog & host giveaways, especially where entry is based on tweeting or posting a FB status about the contest. I'd blog weekly, things related to what your readers are interested in. Do a newsletter every month to every quarter. Personally, I'd hold off on swag unless you've got a plan of what you're going to do with it: if you're going to a conference or you're filling goody bags. I'd also make sure the stuff is both memorable/different and something people will want to hang on to. Pens, yes... pamphlets, not so much. Just my opinion, but that's what I'd do. :D

  6. I enjoy doing blog tours...I've met so many great folks by getting out of my head and into other corners of cyberspace.

    And I echo Cathy...get ready to send out copies of your books for review. Get familiar with who reviews your genre and make contact. Build a contact list to send your future books to. If reviewers enjoyed your first book, they often agree to review subsequent ones.

    I also suggest that authors learn a bit of html or learn to use a website building program in order to update your own website - frequent updates can get expensive in a hurry if you pay someone to do them.

    And don't forget your international readers in contests and giveaways. The Book Depository is a good place to ship books internationally for contests or reviewers - free international shipping.

  7. Thanks for coming by ladies! Lots of great tips and ideas. I know for myself as a reader, I'm not that likely to pick up paper swag unless there is something AMAZING about it.

  8. Hi Marie,

    I've done a lot of book promotion over the years, and can't say that just one thing has been the catalyst for additional sales.

    I use a lot of different methods (with the latest 'test' being Goodreads), and I do feel that everything combined is what gets results.

    I don't often pay for promotions, but do have membership to a couple of promotional sites for authors - I probably spent $150 absolute max per year on promo ops, but that really is a max. The lower, the better, I say.

    This same topic was discussed on my blog recently, and your readers may pick up some extra tips there:

  9. I'm currently having a mini anxiety attack regarding promo as my book will be released from Luna in September. I have 2 published books with small presses, but the Luna book is in a whole new (and bigger) league, so I'm feeling anxious about what to do.

    Harlequin has a publicity team that does quite a bit, but i doubt it extends to their debut authors. Which means I can't afford to drop this ball.

    I have a marketing background, which helps, but one thing is for certain is that promotion isn't an exact science. It's hard to track results for things like swag and media ads. I did a lot of promo stuff for my small press book and didn't see much in the way of results. It's kind of like throwing cooked spaghetti against the wall to see if it sticks.

    My current plans are facebook (which i guess is a given), blog and blog tours, and website with excerpts (as soon i get the okay from Harlequin's marketing dept.).

    I haven't been much help here (sorry), but i would like you all to know about an awesome flash website creation tool that's free and super easy to use. I'm still working on mine but you can see what i have so far at Visit to check out the awesome templates you can use as a base for your own site. It's so cool!