By Cindy Hudson
Elizabeth Rusch was busy celebrating the publication of four books for children in 2007: Will It Blow?: Become a Volcano Detective at Mount St. Helens (Sasquatch), A Day with No Crayons (Rising Moon), The Planet Hunter: The Story Behind What Happened to Pluto (Rising Moon), and Girl's Tennis: Conquering the Court (Capstone Press). Along with her first book for children, Generation Fix: Young Ideas for a Better World (Beyond Words Publishing 2002), her books have provided lots of opportunities for her to become promotion savvy.
Here Liz shares tips for promoting your book.
Q. What can authors do before their publication date to make a book launch more successful?
A. Ask your publicist for the best way to give her information and ideas on marketing and publicizing the book. Often this will be through an author questionnaire that you should answer as thoroughly as possible.
You could also pretend YOU are the publicist for the book and think about how you might promote it. Think overlooked, narrow niche markets rather than getting on Oprah. Also think of all the people and organizations you know that might help you get word out about your book, and send that list to your publicist.
Another tactic is to think of articles related to the topic of your book and query magazines and newspapers offering to write pieces for them. Magazines need at least 6 months lead time, so do this a full half year before your book is to hit stores.
Consider hiring a publicist to help promote the book. This can be pricey, but worth it. Also, send postcards or e-mails to friends and family when the book is released. Word of mouth starts at home!
Q. What do you like best about promoting your books?
A. I've met some terrific people through bookstore signings and other speaking engagements. The best is when you are at a signing and someone comes up to you who has read one of your books and liked it, and they are buying your next one. It feels great to meet your readers!
Q. What is one mistake you made promoting your first book that you'd recommend others avoid?
A. Expecting the publisher to do too much. We authors have to really think through marketing and promotional work we can do. We can make post cards, do mailings, visit local bookstores, set up signings.
Q. Can you share your top three book promotion tips for first-time authors?
1. Don't get discouraged; little things you do add up. Even if you do a signing and NO ONE shows up, you can still meet and chat with the bookstore staff. They may love your book and hand-sell it or keep an eye out for your next book.
2. Think about promotion as building relationships instead of just selling books. When I talk to people I describe or pitch the book, but I also talk about it in the context of my life and career as a writer, what I'm trying to do or say, what I want my work overall to offer the world. Likewise, it's important to listen to what the person you are pitching is interested in. Try to have two-way conversations--they are richer and more fun and they will help you develop relationships that may be important later in your career.
3. Don't get so overwhelmed promoting your book that you get distracted from writing your next one! Set aside time for promotion and for writing, so you are moving your published books into the public eye as you are creating your new ones.
Q. Is there something that is never too late to do when promoting your book?
A. There are always audiences for your book that you may not have thought of at first. So even if your book has been out for a while, if you think of a great audience, try to contact them.
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.