Online Writer's Conference 2003

Shades Of Romance Magazine

August 3-9, 2003















Phase Promotion



by Tracee L. Garner


It seems so daunting, a gargantuan task that you can't possibly fathom taking on: Getting your books off of store shelves and into the hands of the ultimate consumer.  If you can break the preparation of your release down into manageable parts, you will get more done and feel a great sense of smooth and even flow, not to mention confidence and accomplishment. Think of what is below as parts of your favorite food. Whatever it is you eat, you don't wolf down the entire thing with one mad shove into your mouth. At least that poses a choking hazard and wreaks havoc on your digestive system. Instead, one breaks, or cuts the large portions into bite size pieces, savoring every bite. Consider what's below four delicious servings. Enjoy! 

PHASE ONE ~ Prepublication-

Get a Website 
Obtain a Post Office Box 
Make up your Advance Reading Copies (Arc's) -
Compile a list of potential people to receive your Arc's - (magazines, book clubs, independent book stores and etc.,). Remember that Arc's are expensive. In the past, I've sent out no more than 4 per book. Not everyone is going to have the time to read it, so why send it? Ensure that those you send it to:

1. Will receive it in a timely manner
2. Have received prior inquiry that you are interested in sending your work and that you have discussed with them their workload and thus ensure that they will have the time to review it
3. Know once they are finished reading it, that you are expecting some type of review to put on your printed materials, to put on your website or post on bookseller sites such as Amazon.

Research Contacts - begin to review and compile a listing of events you'd like to take part in. Get the contact information of the coordinators of these events: contact name (don't forget to spell it correctly) address, telephone number and website if one. Remember an old website is better than none at all. While information may change slightly from year to year, often what took place (thus what will take place in the future is probably going to stay the same) giving you something to go by and know how you can participate/what to prepare/what to bring with you

Begin to compile information for your media (or Press) kit - Make up the following:

1. Bio with picture sheet
2. Possible interview questions to "ask the author" sheet
3. General press release -contains where you're from, book title, book synopsis, previous book titles, book review(s), release date, author info, your website and career info etc, (keep it to one page in length)
4. Interviews you've already done -and if you have none simply make up your own. Just ask yourself some questions and answer them (keep it conversational-like)
5. Blurb Sheet (sales sheet)- is a sheet that contains some quotes about your book and a short synopsis of book title(s) -ensure this sheet or other "about the book" sheet contains a good picture of what your book looks like, you may also include your planned marketing plans on a sales or blurb sheet - e.g. bookstore signings, television appearances, speaking engagements, modems you will pursue for advertising your books, news medium appearances and anything else you are planning at this time for your book tour/book marketing -remember the "tentative" plans you have for your marketing targets are just that, "tentative", so anything, absolutely anything goes. Even if you don't get into the forms you wanted, e.g. TV coverage, at least it's listed to the let the media know you're open to it if they were to offer and that you tried.

These basic content sheets for your press kit will get you started. As you go and do more, you'll have more and more clips to add to help fatten your press kit.

Begin Preliminary Design of Your Promotional Items - bookmarks, postcards, calendars, notepads: those are the basics, but nowadays, there is no limit to the kinds of items you can have made up to print info about your book upon. It's important to begin to visualize what these items should have on them. A synopsis about your book obviously but did you want to include another quote from a fan, another author or magazine? Include a picture of your book? If so then what you chose to have printed, will have to be short and grab attention with as few words as possible. The best ideas for what you will produce come from the promotional ideas of authors you admire. Most any author will send you their current promo items if you request and send a SASE to them. Once you've taken a look at some ideas, you can choose to do what they have done, or if you are a creative (cut and paste) kind of being, combine many ideas into one. Remember whatever item you choose, it must do six things:

Promotional Items must be

1. Inform -
inform the reader of you (name/address/if self published provide a direct number to a distributor if your book isn't available wherever books are sold) a website address, and e-mail address -ensure all information is spelled correctly and provided links, work
2. Invite - (intrigue) provide enough information that makes people ask: "What's that about?" or say: "I like the sound of that" thus inviting them to look further for more information
3. Direct - direct people to where they can find more information, read excerpts even and get bios of you, more tidbits you're your writing history with a website, toll free phone number, e-mail address or post office box

Promotional Items must be:

1. Aesthetically pleasing
-(do not choose colors that are hard on the eyes, e.g. neon or checkered as a backdrop to tiny or light writing)
2. Mail-able - If you will want to send these items to readers/fans and other persons on your mailing list, they should fit easily and lay flat in an envelope. Anything bulky will drive up the costs of postage, bulky things also can tear envelopes as they pass through meters and sorters at your local post office
3. Cost-effective - If you have the funds to be a bit frivolous, great! If you are an author who is just starting out however, with limited funds, than you want to spend wisely. What is the "frivolous" or "for show" stuff? Anything that's disposable and doesn't have recyclable value. E.g. mints, candies, chocolate, anything edible. It's cute to put your name/logo/website and other info on the wrapper of the tasty treat, but people rarely keep wrappers because it contains something about your work. Things like bookmarks, magnets, notepads, and a host of other items can be used over and over again and there is your information, before the reader's eye, over and over again.

Continue researching and Compiling On and Off-line contacts

1. Annual Author Events
- annual events held for and by authors or book clubs, fundraisers showcasing authors and raising money for reading/literacy programs or just a gathering of author that many readers will attend.
2. Bookstores - In many, many articles, it's been suggested that an author map out an area of 60 miles each way from their home, but I say as far and as wide as you're willing to travel and as your budget allows
3. Book Clubs - book clubs around you and in the places you will be traveling to may want to host an evening with you to discuss your work/characters, upcoming releases, publishing advice, motivation to write, and whatever else is on their mind - make an evening of it and have some food too and many clubs nowadays meet at a new or old favorite restaurant
4. Media Outlets- obtain contact information for your local papers, magazines, cable companies and newsletters (chamber of commerce). At this time, if this is your first book, local outlets are about the only media sources that will interested in your work, unless you/your book is about a subject that is unprecedented, unusual or ties in some how to other happenings the media will already be covering. Be sure you're abreast on current trends, hot topics so if any of those elements are included in your book, you can milk the outlet for all it's worth gaining an even greater amount of coverage. A overlooked idea: local, small broadcast cable stations - it's that cable television station that covers ball games, school events, and county government. You think no one watches that? Well, guess again, they do. Believe it not there are people that watch these county channels. Not many but some and more importantly if you tell people either on your site, or mention it in your next interview, people WILL watch

Send press kits and fax media

Confirm Events/Appearances - Make contact to touch base, introduce yourself and your book. If persons have said they saw something about you, remind them of your press information that it should have been received by now by them (if you sent something to them). If you didn't send them anything, tell them you could send something and offer to fax it to prevent their losing it and to save you mailing costs

Prepare address labels for mailings - Go ahead and print out your address labels on self adhesive label paper to use for your mailing materials when they arrive

Prepare a short version of your newsletter - For your electronic newsletter, four simple items will do:

1. Welcome message - hello and welcome to my newsletter (no longer than 2 sentences)
2. Website announcement -announcing that your website is up and running, drop the address and then tell people SOME of what they can expect find there (chapter excerpts, bio, book cover picture, tour news, links and please sign my guest book). I say SOME as to list all of this is just a waste of time, if they want to visit they will you do not need to list all that is there, when in doubt, just say, "and much, much more..."
3. Book announcement - when does it hit stores and the shortest synopsis you can write, (try to get it down to 3 sentences or 25 words)
4. Pass my newsletter on and thank you- always provide a disclaimer about joining or un-joining (un-subscribing) from your newsletter. People like options and don't forget to thank them for their continued support

Final check and promotional material order - You're ready to place your order. Be certain to ask the company you use for one "proof" of all the items you order. This may cost extra, but it will allow you to check for mistakes, see the actual layout and it's better than the same mistake appearing on each and every one of your promo items.


Follow Up and more confirmations - If you haven't heard from some of the places you were looking to go, call them back: reintroduce yourself and remind them how you'd like to be a part of their event. Never give up. Remember that people get busy and they get behind, and you as a persistent person will get results when you call again. Now if you find yourself over committed, don't worry about touching base with those that haven't returned your calls. 

When making and taking calls:

1.Write out some sort of script for yourself. Have the message points you want to convey to express things quickly (My name is "?" I have a book debuting "month", it's a "genre", I'm a "local author" (if you are) and I'd like to discuss a signing at your store. PLEASE, anything else and you've taken up too much of this person's time. 

2. Always have a pencil, your up-to-date calendar and a sheet of paper with you. Sounds like a no-brainer, but sometimes you may call at an hour the store manager or coordinator isn't there, and just when you think you're just going to leave a message, they answer and there you are unable and unprepared to set things up. You then have to tell them to hold a minute while your run around and get items you need. And YES, use a pencil, when you are certain about things, simply in some kind of colored marker, write "CONFIRMED" on top of the entry. Things come up and you want to read what you're doing, not the scribble scratch over it a thousand times.

If you have to leave a message, do so. Don't be afraid to leave a message and don't always expect a call back, that's why YOU call back even if you leave a message. At least (if they have listened to their messages) they've heard of you and might have even looked up information about you.

Printed materials arrive - Your items are here, (check them for any errors) however at this point it's too late, you should have gotten proofs of them). If they are error free, aren't they wonderful? Stamp and address them with those labels

Mass mailings - Remember to have everything ready to go at one time to avoid multiple trips to the post office. Did someone call and ask for another press kit? Don't forget to mail that. Did you have some thank you notes for reviewers ready to go? Don't forget that.

You should be ready to mail ALL your items, either postcards, just address and mail or e-mail, have your e-mail booklist and send your electronic newsletter to your list