Saturday, October 17, 2009

The Art of Selling...

When it comes to writing books, I think my most hated word is the almighty "promotion". Yes, you see it everywhere. Advertisements designed to make us purchase one car over another, or buy one brand of ketchup. There are people who make a living at selling folks stuff they'll never need. But they all have one thing in common—the art of selling.

As the date of my first ever book looms increasingly near, I'm left wondering what on earth to do to promote, well, me. I mean, in the end that's really what I'm doing. I'm trying to sell a part of me I've managed to put to paper. Whether I choose to see it that way or not, it's the cold reality of the publishing world. Authors need to take charge of their own promotions and get their name out there. Find ways to draw readers to their websites, their publishing house website and, of course, the book store, whether it's a virtual check-out line or a physical space inside a mall.

When I signed my first contract, all I could think about was..."wow, I'm going to be published. People will actually get to buy my book."... of course I never really stopped to think how this would be achieved, I was happy just knowing my dream was becoming a reality. Never did I consider that promoting both the book and myself would become a monkey on my back I just couldn't get rid of. There's just one problem. I have absolutely no idea how to do it.

I realize this may seem strange, but I've never been someone who enjoyed "selling" themselves. (and no, I don't mean actually 'selling' myself, but thanks for not laughing at the notion). I'm just not the kind of person who goes around telling folks how great my stories are and listing reasons they should check out my website. I actually blush at the idea of sprouting praise about my work, and I secretly wonder, how other authors do it? Are they just natural promoters or is there really an 'art' to it?

Personally, I think it's a combination of the two. Some people are just good at finding ways to get their wares out there. They make use of both traditional and non-traditional avenues and enjoy the success of their efforts. Business cards, pens and magnets... all of these are items can be left places in a subtle effort to get your name in circulation. Some writers chat up local bookstore owners, convincing them to stock their stories or sponsor a book-signing. Still others embrace new technology and increase their presence on search engines and review sites. And while I know about these techniques, I'm just not one of those people who comes by it naturally. So what is a promo-challenged author to do?

Quite frankly, if I had the answer, I wouldn't be writing this post. I'd be selling... broadcasting my up coming releases and making people squirm in anticipation as they wait for the fated day to arrive. I'd be posting blurbs and excerpts at every turn, luring folks in with my sexy descriptions and face-paced action. I'd be comfortable at selling me!

But what kinds of promotions really work? Does dropping a business card in with a bill or tossing one down on a restaurant table really increase your readership? Should I spend money to advertise on review sites or work to get my name higher on the search engines? What actually attracts readers?

If you ask me, the answer to this is more fiercely guarded than the resting site of the holy grail! Authors who know, just do it and those of us who don't, stumble along wondering what it is we're missing. And in the end, we all believe we're never really promoting enough.

So I'm posing a question. As a reader, what lures you to a new author? Is it just luck? Do you get lured in by a sexy cover and a get blurb, or do you go searching for writers after seeing their name in an advertisement? What makes you take the step from browsing to buying?

And on that note, I'll leave you with, well, some promotion:D I just recently received the cover art for my first RP novel due out December 8th entitled CHECKMATE. It's a sexy action-adventure thriller designed to leave you breathless. Here's the awesome cover...

But what's a cover without a teaser of what you'll find inside...

For years he’s hidden in the shadows... watching... hunting. His attempts have never been successful, until now. And his game is just beginning.

Kendall Walker and her brother, Trace, share a passion for adventure racing. But when Trace is kidnapped by a psychotic figure from their past, Kendall finds herself immersed in an adventure race beyond anything she’s ever known. And if she doesn’t reach each checkpoint in time, Trace will die. She’ll do anything to get her brother back, even surrendering to a man intent on becoming her lover. Luckily for her, Dawson has other plans.

Special Agent Dawson Cade doesn’t know how his life went from complacent to complicated in what feels like a heartbeat. He has absolutely no leads on the bastard terrorizing Kendall, and he can’t stop himself from wanting to take her into his bed. He knows he needs to keep distant, but when circumstances force him to succumb to the desires of a man intent on possessing Kendall, Dawson must face the truth. He’s going to be Kendall’s next lover, even if she doesn’t know it yet. And as the race begins, he can only hope he’s able to save Trace, and keep Kendall from sacrificing herself, in a game where even victory has a price.

I know what you're thinking, but it still doesn't come naturally, lol. But I'll keep trying. Maybe the best skills are the ones you have to work at.


Kris Norris

Romancing adventure at a time.


s7anna said...

Hi Kris,

As a reader, I tend to look for information from various blogs and reader's loops that I either follow or am a member of...Have you considered approaching a couple of bloggers who are heavy hitters in the crowd and asking for a guest spot? Offer a contest as an enticement to draw in the stragglers...It often works as a great way to promote a book...

Do a promo on the Resplendence blog...have Fran invite you over to her blog as a guest...approach a few Yahoo group loops to bring you in as a guest and spend a couple of hours hanging out with other authors and readers'...even authors read! so that's a great way to get your name out there...

I've also noticed that authors' are very helpful on these loops to new authors to the scene...and want to do their best to welcome you...

Hopefully some of my suggestions will help you start your path to self-promotion!

By the way, if you take a look at my blogger profile, you'll see a huge list of blogs that I follow...try and get in touch with some of them...

Another option is to get in touch with reviewers and have them post reviews on their loops and sites... There's Classic Romance Revivals Reviews, The Long and Short of It...tons more of course..but at least this'll point you in the right direction...

I wish you the best of luck with your upcoming release!!! Keep us up-to date with your plans and progresses...

Happy Reading!!!
Anna Shah Hoque

Julia Barrett said...

Kris - promotion is very tough. Even a great review doesn't always translate into sales. I would say - from experience - that advertising does not seem to make a difference. A good review from a well-respected site does help and I'm willing to risk getting a mediocre review from a tough reviewer just to get my book out there.
I got a C+ review for my first book from a very tough reviewer but turned around and submitted my second book to her and she gave me a B+ and asked me to submit all my future works to her - her review of my book got me some interest.
Good luck!

Paris said...

I think Anna has a point about guest spots on blogs;-)and offering a contest to draw your readers. I've had some good experiences doing this and the thing you have to remember is to let people know where you will be. Join reader and writing groups and then let everyone know where you are being interviewed! You get to know the nicest people (hi, Anna).

A good review is also a plus but I have to agree with Julia that it doesn't guarantee sales. Every little bit helps though so don't forget mentioning it when you promo your book. And do post an icon from their review site if one is available.

Lots of good advice that I could only add my 2 cents to but good luck with your promotions!

s7anna said...

Hey Paris,

I was actually reading just the other day...that you have to self-promote your work all the time...You have to put in the elbow grease to make sure that you're remembered...

I learned that after a book's initial release it gets set aside for other new releases and it's literally one of thousands in the system of online unless you actually know the book title or author really is difficult to just stumble onto a particular author...It's imperative to keep your name and face out there...have an online presence!

I'm learning so much from various authors...I never really realized how much trouble and effort the authors are required to go through and put in behind their work...I always just assumed that the publisher did all the work...especially since the author did the hardest part...which is writing the book itself.

As a reader, it is definitely a major eye-opener!!!

Kris Norris said...

Hey ladies,

Wow, some great advice. I, too, used to think writing the book was the hardest part, but I'm learning it's almost the easiest only because it's the part I love. The rest sometimes feels like necessary evils to get your hard work out there.

I appreciate all the tips and will incorporate them into my promo strategy. Thanks for dropping by.


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