By Cindy Hudson
Seattle novelist Jennie Shortridge began freelance writing in 1995, publishing articles in magazines and newspapers while writing fiction on the side. When her first novel, Riding with the Queen, was published by NAL/Penguin in 2003, she started writing fiction fulltime. Since then, she's published Eating Heaven (2005) and most recently, Love and Biology at the Center of the Universe (2008).
Here, Shortridge shares her thoughts about what it takes to successfully promote your books.
Q. What can authors do before their publication date to make a book launch more successful?
A. Everything happens before the book launch! This is when you need to develop a website, schedule readings at bookstores and other venues (most books about four months out), approach media for reviews and articles, and most importantly, figure out how you are going to present the book. What will be your compelling short description? What are your three talking points? How can you make your book stand out in a sea of others being released all at once?
Q. What do you like best about promoting your books?
A. Actually, I like talking with readers about all kinds of things, not just my books. I love going to book groups and book festivals and in-store events and just getting to know them. For the most part, they're very much like me and my friends -- we're often interested in the same kinds of things, the same issues, and we all love to read.
Q. What is one mistake you made promoting your first book that you'd recommend others avoid?
A. I didn't know how to be picky enough about various marketing opportunities, but I'm not sure you can know that until you give most things a try! Before you pay for any promotion, really do the research to see what kind of results you think it will yield. Ask other authors who've done it how it worked for them.
Q. Can you share your top three book promotion tips for first-time authors?
A. Actually, I can share my top ten tips, which are on my website.
Q. Is there something that is never too late to do when promoting your book?
A. Do everything you can for the first year. Make hay before the book is considered "old." For some media outlets, that can mean only a couple of months from pub date, but bookstores usually will welcome you for up to a year. After that, write another one, or better yet, be writing it while promoting the first one.
Cindy Hudson is currently writing Bonding Through Books: The Complete Guide to Creating Mother-Daughter Book Clubs (Seal Press 2010). Her website, and its companion blog, feature reading lists, book reviews, author interviews, book give-aways and other book club resources. She lives with her husband and two daughters in Portland, Oregon, where she writes weekly for The Oregonian and edits the monthly e-zine, Writers on the Rise. Visit her online at www.cindyhudson.com.