Monday, November 12, 2007

The Internet as Your Promotional and PR Resource

These days publishing houses expect their authors to put up the money for most of the publicity and public relations necessary to make any book a success. That can be an expensive proposition for any author, especially since writers can’t rely on advances big enough to cover these costs. It seems the more money and effort we are expected to dish out to help sell our books, the less money and effort our publishing houses dish out to help us do so.

So, what’s a writer to do? Take advantage of the most underutilized (and free) writer’s resource out there – the Internet. Despite the fact that it’s been around long enough to have become part of a writer’s way of life, we have not yet begun using the Internet as the resource it will one day be for our publicity and PR needs. Yet, even now it can provide the cheapest publicity and PR campaign available – all from the comfort of our homes.

These days best-selling authors, like Chicken Soup for the Soul’s Jack Canfield, promote their books while sitting at home in sweats and slippers. Using their computers, telephones and podcasting and teleconferencing technology, they teach teleseminars, do radio and Internet interviews, and answering questions from readers and fans all over the world without ever leaving home.

Many authors have sent themselves to best-seller status using e-mail “blasts” – e-mailed letters asking people to purchase their books from Amazon.com on a particular day and offering gifts from other authors in return for doing so. This tactic works well, especially if you can get enough “partners” to agree to send your letter to their e-mail list. Usually those offering gifts will do this for you, as might some other people. If you sell between 200 and 600 books on a given day – and no other books sells more, Amazon.com will give you the title of best-selling author and your book the title of best seller. You can do the same thing for Barnsandnoble.com. Of course, best-seller status does a lot for a book’s promotion, but the e-mail blast itself does the trick by telling people about your book and enticing them to purchase it.

About four years ago, San Francisco writer and bibliophile Kevin Smokler organized the first virtual book tour for an author. His idea was to link up authors with bloggers. The underpromoted authors provide the bloggers with interviews, original essays, and such and the bloggers provide book reviews and content related to the book. This idea has expanded to include author taking over weblogs for a day and giving readings, interviews and discussions via video and web-conferencing as well through online chats, discussion boards and chat-rooms. In most cases, readers and authors can interact at any time from any place. Many authors are using virtual book tours these days, but many are not.

The newest idea to hit the Internet and the publishing world comes in the form of a virtual book launch party. Not too many authors are privy to those fancy and expensive book launch parties thrown by their publishers these days, but one author decided she wanted one even if she had to throw it for herself. So, self-published novelist Elle Newmark will host the second-ever virtual book launch party on November 27th when she releases Bones of the Dead at a party to which over 500,000 guests will be invited. She’ll be asking people to purchase her book from Amazon.com on that day, and if they do, they’ll gain entry to the “party.” There they’ll find a plethora of “party favors” (gifts offered by her promotional partners – including me), “food for thought,” pleasant music, and other fun things that go along with the renaissance theme of her book. (I tell you what, this woman knows how to publicize her book. This weekend she was out at the Southern California Renaissance Faire handing out invitations to her virtual book launch party. We could all learn something from her. In fact, I think she plans to write a book about how to gain promotional partners and promote books in this manner.) To check out Elle and her party, go to http://www.bonesofthedead.com/.

Tomorrow I’ll tell you about how to promote yourself and your book online using free article directories. This is important if you are doing promotion and PR for your book or if you are building a platform. I've used this method, which is not free, quite successfully. If nothing else, my name is pretty well plastered all over the Internet.

1 comment:

AuthorMomWithDogs said...

I just had a conversation with my agent yesterday about Elle's Virtual Book Party. He was invited, liked what he saw and offered to represent her. Seems William Morrow beat him to the punch.

That's what I'd call a good day for Elle!

So, clearly this approach works.