With a tagline like “Do-it-yourself book marketing tips, tools, and tactics” Sandra Beckwith was a shoe-in for a post with Romance University! Take it away Sandra!
You think it’s harder to promote fiction than nonfiction?
You’ll get no argument from me! Let’s be honest: Because people who enjoy romance novels are found in a wide, wide range of professions, geographies, lifestyles, and income levels, it can be more challenging to zero in on those readers than it is, say, to find readers for a book about best practices in human resources.
Still . . . I cringe when I hear from romance writers who think that all they can do to get exposure is run contests, beg for reviews, and post on Twitter. There’s so much more you can do to get your book title in front of the right people – and your novel deserves it.
I’ve outlined seven more tactics that work for fiction below. Be open to the possibilities! Give one or two of them a try and evaluate the results. You have nothing to lose, and much to gain.
- Support your book with a good website designed by a professional.
Your website has to be as good as your writing. If it looks amateurish, readers will think your writing is amateurish, too.
Use your site to help us connect with you as an individual, not as a lofted author. Romance writer Maya Rodale’s site helps us get to know her better by including a page labeled “Connect” that includes the encouraging message, “I love to correspond with readers.”
What’s more, her site color scheme of pink and white tells women – the primary audience for romance novels – that they’ve come to the right place.
- Use email marketing.
So few novelists are using email today to build their fan base that it’s easy to make headway with this valuable marketing tool right now.
Fact is, email marketing is 40 times more effective than Facebook and Twitter combined. How can you turn your back on that?
- Think beyond book reviews.
Book reviews are valuable and securing them should be on any author or publisher’s book promotion to-do list, but your novel deserves more widespread, long-term, and ongoing exposure than it can get through reviews alone.
You want the press to talk about your book for as long as it’s available for purchase so work to get media exposure on an ongoing basis by pursuing publicity.
- Use your content to identify promotion allies.
This could be your secret weapon because honestly, not enough novelists are doing this.
Camille Noe Pagán’s novel, The Art of Forgetting, tells the story of what happens to a friendship when one of the friends suffers a traumatic brain injury, so Pagán partnered with the Bob Woodruff Foundation (Woodruff suffered a brain injury while covering the Iraq war for ABC-TV).
Look, too, at your characters’ professions – there’s an association for just about every occupation. Send a copy of the book with a letter outlining promotional possibilities and what’s in it for them. You might offer to speak at their national meeting, write for their member publication, or offer a discount to members.
- Mine the nonfiction nuggets in your manuscript and use them to create newsworthy material for media outlets.
“Nonfiction nuggets” are the hidden news hooks you can use to get publicity and other exposure.
Is your protagonist a radio jock? The morning drive time personalities would love to interview you by phone. Is she a jilted wife starting over in the workforce as – let’s say – an account executive at a high-flying packaging design firm who finds love with her client at a consumer products company? You’ve got publicity opportunities with the packaging and marketing trade magazines.
What about locations, products, or services in your novel? A brand name product that plays a key role could get your book into that brand’s employee newsletter.
If you’re writing your romance novel now, work in some nonfiction nuggets you can capitalize on later.
- Leverage what you uncovered while writing your book.
Did you learn about a period in history or a specific region? Use this knowledge as a springboard for publicity. The author of a historical romance novel set in South Carolina, for example, can write and distribute a news release announcing the top romantic attractions in that state or pitch local newspapers or regional magazines on an article about the state’s most romantic date destinations.
Your goal is to be quoted as an expert source because this requires using your book title as one of your credentials.
- Take advantage of holidays, special occasions, annual events, and seasonal stories.
You want to constantly look for special days or occasions you can connect your book to. The most obvious one for romance writers is Valentine’s Day, and you want to leverage that by sending the media a tip sheet on how to be romantic or a related topic, but there’s a holiday for just about everything. Hitch your book to one of them and use it to get into the news.
Use the monthly calendars at Holiday Insights for inspiration.
Pick just one that seems like a good fit for your experience and comfort level, and learn how to do it well. You might just hit the sweet spot for your book marketing efforts.
What has been your most successful tactic for promoting fiction?
Join us on Friday for the always entertaining Damon Suede!
Bio: Sandra Beckwith is an award-winning former publicist who now teaches authors how to market their books. Her training programs include a home study e-course on how to market fiction. Download her free “Top 5 Free Book Promotion Resources” at http://buildbookbuzz.com/gift; you’ll also receive her free weekly newsletter.
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