Getting your work promoted as a writer can often be a job in and of itself. Unless you’re lucky enough to have a name like Stephen King or John Grisham, or unless you’re on the bestseller list, publishers often do very little to promote your great-American-whateveritisyou’vewritten.
It’s not that they don’t want to or that they don’t do anything, but the more they do the less profit the work will make and thus everyone gets paid less. More times than not, they’re just worried about trying to make their money back. So, publishers rely on doing as much of the free stuff they can. But writers should also take up the slack and work to promote themselves…after all, it’s their work!
So what sorts of things can writers do?
The first thing is to get a list of all publications that might have an interest in the writer: local newspapers, church bulletins and newsletters, college/alumni magazines, and the like. If you’ve lived in multiple cities, include the newspapers there as well. The hometowns where writers grew up are often especially interested in news.
With list in hand, send a press release with the pertinent information: the name of your work and where it can be purchased locally and online. Each individual release will have to be personalized to let the specific publication know why they should be interested in the material…but they will be interested in the “home-town writer publishes book” story or “local writer” angles. It may not be printed immediately and it may not get front page coverage, but it will be free. Many times those press releases generate interest enough that the publication will decide to actually call you up for an interview. Be prepared to answer all their questions. Also be prepared for them to get a quote wrong somewhere along the way.
Another easy suggestion is book signings. Be warned, these run the spectrum. I’ve been at signings where I was busy the entire time…and I’ve been at signings where I wondered if would even sign one copy! Don’t expect the store to do all the work—talk it up. Send a press release to the newspaper. You might ask them to include it with “community events” before the signing. And, if you’re lucky, they may even send a photographer to the signing.
If the option is available to you, purchase copies of your work and take them with you. Tell the store manager that they only have to pay for what they sell; you’ll take the “leftovers” back with you. Why? Because you want the manager to WANT you to be there and to have plenty of copies. If he feels he’ll have to buy a lot of copies for his customers but may get stuck with a bunch he can’t sell after you leave…well, he’s less inclined to have you. If you are taking most of the risk, then often the manager is excited to have you and will work with you.
There are more suggestions, but I’ll have to include them in part 2!