Q. What can authors do before their publication date to make a book launch more successful?
A. I think the best thing you can do (when writing fiction) is get your name and face out there -- on the blogosphere, on Twitter, on various other online outlets -- as a brand. To be honest, I'm not even sure that it's about getting your BOOK out there as much as it is your name coupled with your personality. I feel like a lot of my success is because I'm pretty communicative with readers, and in some way, they feel like (rightly enough) they know me. And since they know me, they root for me, and since they root for me, they're likelier to pick up one of my books. So, pre-launch, I'd just advise getting out there as much as you're comfortable with; these days, it's pretty easy to develop some sort of recognizable presence, especially online, and you can do it from the comfort of your own home.
Q. What do you like best about promoting your books?
A. I interact a lot with readers and book buyers, and I truly enjoy this. Twitter is a heck of a lot of fun, for example. I also enjoy doing Q/As with bloggers, and hearing feedback from readers on the books and what I have to say during those Q/As. I get a lot of e-mail, and I try to respond to all of it, though a few do occasionally slip through the cracks.
Q. What is one mistake you made promoting your first book that you would recommend others avoid?
A. Hmmm, that's a tough one. I guess that it's believing that promotion can change everything...which I know, probably isn't the ideal answer for this Q/A! BUT, promotion is fabulous...to a point. And sure, you do everything you can to sell the heck out of your book, but if that's all that happens, that you hear from readers, that you sell a few copies, be okay with that. I think a lot of writers feel a huge let-down when their books don't eclipse the bestseller list, despite having really, really promoted it. The behind-the-scenes truth is that it takes A LOT of factors to make a book take off. Yes, promotion is one of them, but there are a lot of things that are out of your control as well. So go out and promote, and enjoy it and be okay with whatever success -- big or small -- it brings.
Q. Can you share your top three book promotion tips for first-time authors?
1. Don't be afraid to toot your own horn. No one is going to do it for you, and if you don't serve as your own best advocate, no one else will either.
2. Don't be annoying while tooting said horn. I always try to have a sense of humor and be a little bit self-deprecating while singing my own praises, whether on Twitter or Facebook or via e-mail. I think people appreciate hearing about your successes while knowing that you don't take said successes too seriously.
3. Don't be afraid to call in favors and use your connections. People are often happy to help you out or take a look at the book with the potential to help you out, but if you don't ask, it will never happen.
Q. Is there something you would say is never too late to do when promoting your book?
A. I'd say that it's never too late to reach out to readers and make new fans. I now have a backlist of books that certainly plenty of people missed the first time out and I truly believe that in getting to know me, some of them will go back and read these. Every sale is worth something, even if it's a few years down the line!