Now that you've shed your blood, sweat, & tears over writing your novel, submitting it, and finally selling it, you might just ask yourself, "Now what?"
Â Lemme tell ya, books don't sell themselves.Â You gotta promote, and I'll tell you right now, promotion will take about 80% of your time.Â Be prepared for it.
Â A lot of authors think they can live the "iconic" author dream, eating bon bons and writing best sellers while in a secluded in a cabin in the woods somewhere.Â WRONG!Â Your job is not over once you sell the book.Â You've got to promote it.Â And in the author biz, it really does take money to make money.
However, there are a LOT of free avenues to explore for promotion.Â A lot of new authors don't like to be in front of the public eye at booksignings and such, and in reality, booksignings don't do much to move your books (unless you're Steven King and you have people lining up around the block to get your sig.)Â All a booksigning does is get your name in front of the locals of your town.Â Name recognition.Â Now don't poo poo this, as name recognition is a WONDERFUL tool for promotion.
Â I've heard it said people need to see something 7 times before they actually buy it.Â Â But (and that's a big but lol)Â how sick of you will they become if all you do is yak about your book all over creation?Â The secret to promotion is to balance the book talk with the small talk.
What do I mean?Â Well, before you buy any sort of swag to promote yourselfÂ (ie. business cards and/or bookmarks that are embossed with your name), you'll want to establish a web presence.Â Why?Â Because that's the nature of the beast.Â Technology is now the name of the game when it comes to promotion.Â You can sit in the comfort of your home and literally reach people all around the globe.Â Why WOULDN'T you do this??
You'll want to get a website.Â Nothing funky, like freewebs.1234.buymybook.authorpage.com...Â Seriously, NO ONE is going to remember that link.Â Shell out the $$ to buy your pen name's domain.Â My webpage is www.rebeccagoings.com.Â Easy, memorable, and encourages name recognition.Â Not to mention it's "professional."Â Readers will take you more seriously if you have your own domain name.
Start a blog.Â Any blog program will do, but a blog is essential nowadays to keep your name in front of the masses.Â And the secret to good blogging is to blog often, and not always about news.Â If your blog is nothing more than a 24/7 newsletter, people will get bored with it.Â Readers want to know a bit about you.Â If you're a private person, then make your entries entertaining at least.Â "Interview" your characters, post excerpts, some news, maybe stories about when you were writing the book.Â Things like that.Â You don't need to tell your life story, but you might as well NOT have a blog if it's just going to sit there collecting dust.Â Also, link your blog to ALL of your author friends, and ask them to put your link on their blogs.Â That will allow for cross-traffic of readers, and more people will drift in.Â I do a couple of cool features on my blog at http://beckasbabble.blogspot.com - my Random Pic of the Day and my Hottie of the Week.Â Believe it or not, these attract a lot of readers, because they want to see who I will pick every week as my "Hottie", and they want to see what kind of funny pic I might find on my random wanderings around the 'Net.Â Readers love this kind of thing.Â It keeps them coming back so that when I do post my news, they will be reading it.
You're on Gather, so that's an excellent start.Â Posting articles here HELPS your name recognition.Â Readers from Gather will go, "Hmm, that person is familiar, I'm going to buy their book!"Â Awesome.Â But just like in any promo, you don't always want to yak about how fabulous your book is or people will skim over your postings.Â Shoot the breeze, keep the small talk up.Â This keeps your face in front of the readers, even if you don't have another book releasing for awhile.Â It also makes you more personable than the Almighty Untouchable Author.
Become a member of some Yahoo and Google groups that pertain to your book's genre.Â Some of these groups can have thousands of members, and they are invaluable to promotion, because they're already in tune to what you write.Â Posting excerpts will *definately* get the masses interested in you.Â A lot of publishers nowadays have publisher groups as well or at least forums for their readers and they encourage their authors to go "mingle."Â But just like anything else, don't flood the forums with promo posts, or people will begin to despise them.Â
Get an account on MySpace.Â More than just teenagers use this site.Â If you use MySpace wisely, you can search for people who have your book's genre on their profile pages and befriend them.Â Also befriend local people, other authors, etc.Â Soon, you'll have a network of people you wouldn't have reached before.Â I was apprehensive about MySpace before.Â But now I love it.Â I've met so many cool authors through that site, you wouldn't believe it!Â But MySpace needs maintenance, so don't start a page and let it stagnate.Â You've got to keep this blog updated if you want return visitors to your profile.Â If nothing happens on your profile, no one will care about you other than being one of their 2,000 friends.Â You've got to make people WANT to visit your profile to see updates.
Â There's a new site called www.bebo.com.Â I just found it about two months ago.Â It's really fun and a lot easier than MySpace.Â Try it out!
Certain authors have "guest bloggers" for their more popular blogs.Â Volunteer to do this; get your name in front of the masses.Â Again, name recognition is key.Â You may not sell many books, but you DID just establish "familiarity" within those readers so that when they do come across your book, they'll "know" you.Â (Remember, 7 times, folks.)
Start your own newsletter.Â I have a Google group for this.Â Most authors do it through Google or Yahoo so they don't have to "remember" everyone's email addresses.Â All you do is open a new group, and set it up so only YOU can post to it.Â Then invite friends, fans, and family.Â Send it out once a month with only periodic updates if something really cool happens and it can't wait until next month.Â Remember, readers don't want to be spammed by you, so be sparing with the emails you send them.
Â Keep your ears open for any other form of free promo.Â Some authors interview others, some review sites interview authors.Â Hold contests and announce it everywhere.Â Keep current on your blogs and stay in front of the readers, even when you don't have a new book out.Â There are plenty of avenues of "paid" promo you can explore, but if you're on a tight budget (like me), sometimes "free" is all you can do.Â However, "free" is subjective, because it does take a LOT of time.Â Which is why I told you it takes about 80% of your "writing time" that you might set aside.Â Some authors have days of the week they do promo and write other days.Â Others only promo in the morning, write in the afternoon.Â It's a necessary evil, folks.Â If you're not willing to promote yourself, you will NOT sell much, so don't be surprised if your royalty check is less than ideal.
And never "assume" the publishing house will do things for you.Â They send your books out to review, and maybe promote the company as a whole in different avenues (magazines, websites, etc.), but they don't really promote YOUR BOOK in a big way, unless of course, you're Steven King or some other Big Name Author.Â :)Â Even then, I wonder how much promo Mr. King actually does.Â Probably more than you know.