Sunday, July 18, 2010

The wonderful world of promotion – not.

by: Joelle Charbonneau

Content and copy edits have been done. A cover has been designed. First pass pages have been checked and jacket copy has been approved. Advance reader copies have been created. In a few weeks, the manuscript that once only existed in my computer will actually arrive at my door and be held in my hands. From here on out, there is nothing I can do to change the content of the book so I should be able to kick back and relax, right?


Thing is, as Jamie Freveletti mentioned in her guest post earlier this week, authors are expected to go out and promote their book. Yikes. Not that I shrink from promotion. I’ve had to do the promo thing a number of times during my performing career. Heck, one Christmas morning I was at a television station at 6 a.m. so I could get into costume and makeup and sing high Cs for the holiday audience. Getting up in front of people and performing like a trained monkey is something I do best. (Yep…I just set myself up for a lot of banana and opposable thumb jokes…have at it.) The thing is, as I’ve been looking over PR options, I have to wonder – does any of it really work?

I am a huge reader. I buy dozens, sometimes hundreds of books in a year. (Yes Mom, I know the library would let me check them out for free – but I love them.) Looking at all the books in my house, I realize that I am the person I’m trying to market my book to. The problem is, I’ve never bought a book solely based on an ad, a tweet, an interview or a guest blog post. Yikes. Those are all things that we as authors are supposed to be doing to make our books successful.

The more I think about it, the more I realize that most of my new-to-me author purchases are based on trusted recommendations, the occasional newspaper review or because I thumbed through the book in a bookstore. Crap. People have to have read your book in order to recommend it. Major newspapers don’t spend much time reviewing the unknown newbie and bookstores often need to see proof that your book has had some commercial success before they stock it.

Yep. The law of averages says if everyone I the book buying world is like me – I’m screwed. Then again, maybe I’m not. How do you find the books you read? Does any of this online or social media marketing work for you? If so, please share. I could use all the help I can get.


Scott D. Parker said...

Before I started blogging, I liked the joy of discovering a new author myself. Now that I've made lots of new friends on the internet, I take their recommendations to heart. I know them well enough to say that if they like Book A, chances are, I'll like Book A. I give it a try. Most times, it's a match.

But I also have my feelers out in other directions: reviews on and off the internet, Amazon's "customer who bought this also bought that" sometimes works, and, yes, placement of books at B&N (when I go in one) also work. Call me gullible. Or, easily marketed to. Don't care. It's the books that matter.

Rusty James said...

Well Joelle, [straightens his tie]. You missed an opportunity (or did you?) in this post by not listing the title and premise of ur book.

I'm a new DSD follower, so I don't know who you are.

But seriously.

I buy all of my books via Amazon - so I'd start there. Link, start discussions, tag, make buds, and most important - give away some books with a stipulation to review on Amazon once he/she has read your book.

So, without knowing more about your book, I'll stop there and finish with a --

Best Success!


Joelle Charbonneau said...

Scott - It is the books that matter. I totally agree with that. And, yep - the more readers I know the more they influence my book buying habits.

Matt - You're right. I did skip over an opportunity. My book is Skating Around The Law - a comedic mystery out on Sept. 28th from St. Martins/Minotaur. Thanks for asking.

Dave White said...

I get most of my recommendations like you Joelle. Newspapers, friends' tweets, and "If you like, then you might like." I think that's how most people do it. I'm still not sure how to get people's attention.

Unknown said...

Of the commenters/author of the post, I'm the anomoly. I rarely look for recommendations or suggestions from others. I'll pick it up because I like the cover art or blurb. Or I like the author already. Or it's in a category series I read anyway. My opinions so rarely jibe with other peoples', it's hard to trust their judgment. I take Twilight as the most recent example of people recommending a book. It was dreadful, no matter everyone I knew (at that time) loved it.

Like Scott, I will be influenced by book displays on those rare occasions I get to the bookstore. It's more likely going to be an impulse by at Walmart or Safeway...or best of all, the library! I love this digital age with instant downloads from Overdrive!

Yasmine Phoenix said...

Actually I start by looking at their photo. If they're prettier than me, younger than me, or look damn smarter than me, then I won't purchase their book.
Okay seriously, I take recommendations, ask my friends, read the blurb and see if it peaks my interest. I read historicals, YA, suspense, murder mysteries. I also like series, if I've bought the first book, I'm liable to buy the second to see if the author can maintain the story. Joelle, like you, if I walk into a book store I will come out with at least four new books. Then there are the pubbed authors from Chicago North, I'll give their books top priority to buy.

Mike Dennis said...

I've bought a few books because of online buzz, Joelle. Every once in a while, a new author will surface with a lot of people recommending him.

I just purchased THE COLD KISS by John Rector after reading a synopsis online.

I bought a Charlie Stella novel just from the constant drip of internet promotion by Charlie and others who have blurbed or reviewed his books.

A few years ago, I bought VOLUNTARY MADNESS by Vicki Hendricks after only reading the opening line!

But that's just me.

Debra St. John said...

Hi Joelle,

I am so excited your release date is drawing near...your book is on my must read list already!

I agree with you that I find most of my books through recommendations from friends, however, I did come upon a series I've really enjoyed and a couple of single title stories from reading blog posts.

Recommendations from book sellers, (Oh, if you're reading this, you'll love...) also go a long way. So, maybe doing some schmoozing at your local book stores wouldn't hurt!

Anonymous said...

Word of mouth is where most of my reading selections come from. Followed by reviews/mentions in print (Entertainment Weekly, The Chicago Tribune, among others). And then from Amazon suggesting books based on my prior purchasing habits.

Can't wait for Skating Around the Law!

Deb G.

B. A. Binns said...

The problem with recommendations is, if they don't like a book, or haven't even read it, there's nothing to sa I wouldn't like it. But by relying on recommendations, or reviews or Amazon's "if you like that you'll just love this" marketing, I never know what I miss. I guess I'm old-fashioned, I still like walking into the old bricks and morter stores and browsing. I've been known to spend an hour or more in a bookstore before i find the perfect books to take home. I love being the first in my crowd to find something new and different. Yeah, sometimes I make a mistake and end up wondering what was I thinking. But the same thing happens when I shop for clothes.

Of course, I always was the strange kid who wouldn't follow the crowd.

Hanna said...

Hi Joelle!

I love reading book blogs (Dirty Sexy Books, Dear Author, SBTB, Book Smugglers, etc.). I'm also addicted to GoodReads. My TBR pile as grown obnoxiously because of those two areas.

SueH said...

I get a lot of recommendations via blogs and forums where books are discussed. Browsing the shelves in bookshops, it's usually an interesting picture or a snappy title that will make me pick up a book by an (as yet) unknown author.

TV/Radio ads for books are rare in the UK (no idea elsewhere) so I can't say that helps me decide. Even when guests on chatshows etc. are invited to promote their books, they're usually non-fiction/bios.

There seem to be few mainstream TV programmes to discuss books (BBC, are you listening?)perhpas that marketing area needs opening up>

My last resource gives me the greatest options for trying out new authors - I work in a Library and get to see the new stock as it comes in... :-)

Anonymous said...

With three kids, my time in bookstores is spent largely in the children's section -- which means the books that grab my attention are the ones on display en route to the Berenstain Bears. Most of my purchases are either recommended by friends or bloggers (not necessarily book bloggers) whose taste I trust. I will look into Amazon recommendations, but my decision to purchase those titles is largely based on the published reviews, not the reader ones.

And because I'm a shallow, shallow girl...good covers. Yours is fabulous!

Dana King said...

I read blogs like this and sites like Crimespace and develop a network of people whose opinions I trust, and/or who seem like someone whose book I'd like to read. Even then, I'm often less interested in a specific book than I am in reading that author. (I do sometimes ask authors with more than one book in print where they recommend someone new to their work should start.)

Once I'm hip to a writer I like, that's my strongest recommendation. There are writers out there who can just assume I'll read whatever they put out there next.