By Cindy Hudson
Q. What can authors do before their publication date to make a book launch more successful?
A. Talk up a storm to anyone and everyone! This includes blogging, social networking (i.e., Twitter, LinkedIn, Gather), writing freelance articles (most magazines, ezines and newsletters will let you incorporate a link to your website), doing podcasts, and always including the title of your new book as part of your signature block on all e-mail correspondence.
Q. What do you like best about promoting your books?
A. I love hooking people with the premise and then leaving them dangling with a cliffhanger that requires them to go buy the book and see how it comes out!
Q. What is one mistake you made promoting your first book that you would recommend others avoid?
A. When the publisher of my first hardcover, The Enchanter (Little Brown & Co.) announced the release date of the book -- a Tuesday -- I was so excited that I assumed this meant the exact date it would be available in bookstores nationwide. A friend of mine who owned a posh salon in a Victorian mansion had always promised to host my very first book-signing. The date we chose was the Saturday right after the release and we invited about 75 people for champagne and munchies. You can imagine my panic when I called the bookstore on Friday morning to see how many copies of books I could come and pick up and was told that they hadn't received any. Yikes! Fortunately, a guardian spirit must have been looking out for me because we were miraculously able to get 50 copies about 2 hours before the party. I have since learned never, ever to schedule anything until and unless I actually have copies in hand.
Q. Can you share your top three book promotion tips for first-time authors?
A. A professional website is absolutely essential in this industry. This should include a copy of your book cover, excerpts, a brief bio, and author photo, and copies of any endorsements or reviews you have received. Make sure that your URL is printed on your business cards...and carry those business cards with you at all times! Exchange links and banners with your associates and help direct traffic to each other's sites.
Utilize companies such as www.vistaprint.com which offer inexpensive but high quality postcards, stationery, envelopes, business cards, specialty magnets, pens, calendars, t-shirts, and brochures that allow you to upload your own design. I even customize my return address labels to reference "Author of (my latest book)" as the second line below my name. The proof that this latter strategy works came in the form of a surprise e-mail from a clerk at a department store who noticed my return address label as she was extracting my payment slip and check. Turns out that she was an aspiring author, looked up my name on the Internet and decided to write to me for advice on how to get published. Not only are we still corresponding but she also went out and bought some of my books!
Clubs, civic organizations and schools are always looking for guest speakers for meetings, special events and "career day." They'll welcome the addition of your name -- a local success story -- on their rosters! Too shy to talk? Let technology be your voice by sharing your views and building a network through interactive channels such as American Chronicle, Gather, BookSpoke, and NovelSpot. Start a ripple, create some waves, and employ all the imagination and tenacity that you can to make your new book the splashing success it deserves to be.
Q. Is there something you would say is never too late to do when promoting your book?
Even after your book has been out for several months, never stop soliciting reviews for it on Amazon, Barnes and Noble and BookSpoke. (It always surprises me when I stumble upon new review for books of mine that were first released several years ago.)
Cindy Hudson is the author of Book by Book: The Complete Guide to Creating Mother-Daughter Book Clubs (Seal Press 2009). Her website, and its companion blog, feature reading lists, book reviews, author interviews, book giveaways and other book club resources. She lives with her husband and two daughters in Portland, Oregon, where she writes weekly for The Oregonian. Visit her online at MotherDaughterBookClub.com and CindyHudson.com.