Friday, April 15, 2011

Publicity and Promotion

Publicity and Promotion

by Jacqueline Seewald

Many people in the public eye believe that there is no such thing as bad publicity. Just ask Donald Trump! Publicity positive or negative promotes a career because it puts that person in the limelight. Of course, writers would like to be recognized for the quality of their work. Nevertheless, being ignored by reviewers is not something that authors appreciate. Readers aren’t going to buy books they’ve never heard of. No reviews? No publicity? Consequently no sales.

My next Kim Reynolds mystery novel THE TRUTH SLEUTH featuring a reluctant psychic amateur detective is the third novel in a series. THE INFERNO COLLECTION, the first novel in the series, was endorsed by Sara Paretsky as well as BOOKLIST and sold well to libraries all over the world. The second novel in this series THE DROWNING POOL also received excellent reviews from BOOKLIST among others.

Will THE TRUTH SLEUTH get good reviews? I hope so. However, I am prepared to promote my novel to the best of my ability. Small independent publishers do little to promote their authors. These days even the major publishers do not put much effort and money into book promotion either. Writers have to think proactive.

Should a handful of review publications wield major power, in effect deciding what most readers will and will not be able to read? Is there another better system for writers to become known to readers? Will e-books democratize what may be an archaic system in the publishing world? Are individual readers (and hopefully librarians) paying attention to the internet reviewers that are coming into their own? Time will tell. What is your opinion?


Betty Gordon said...

Jacqueline, you pose thought provoking questions. I have a new release out now and I'm in the throes of getting as much publicity as possible. I did a signing at a city function last week and it was clear that many people are going the ebook direction. The visitors showed interest in the novel and then commented that they would get the ebook. So, are the personal signings going 'bye-bye?' It looked like it on that day at least. I'm saddened by this as I like personal contact and talking to readers about the writing process.

Susan said...

I fear that excessive self-promotion can often do more harm than good. If at all possible, writers should do programs, write articles, and teach classes on other topics, but let others talk about their books. Readers have advised me that they do pay attention to Amazon reviews.

Jacqueline Seewald said...

Hi, Betty,

The fact that people are going for e-books is good in certain respects. It's an equalizer for writers. More writers will have an opportunity to get read. More people than ever will (hopefully) be reading.

Jacqueline Seewald said...

Hi, Susan,

I think you're right about excessive self-promotion being harmful. That's why getting reviews is so important. Thanks for providing an insightful comment.

Pauline B Jones said...

It isn't reviews that are the key, but word of mouth. Reviews can help or hurt word of mouth, but nothing replaces the impact of readers recommending books to their friends. Already I see a lot of review sites losing their influence, which seems to be shifting, IMHO, to book blogger sites. You can see their impact in the fact that publishers are either trying to court them or shut them down.

Since word of mouth is hard to control, the best promotion is writing the next book, and the book after that. And I agree that over promotion can backfire as well.

Jacqueline Seewald said...

Word of mouth is really important. I agree. Once you've got that going you can really build a strong reader base. I notice there are certain writers who don't necessarily write the best books or at least not the best reviewed ones and are not critically acclaimed, but they have a loyal following of readers who do appreciate their work. And that sells books!

Anonymous said...

All these idea are helpful, work of mouth and a good review the best, I think. Also, you can put
a link to your page or blog in your sig.
Good luck and good sales to all of us,
Jackie Griffey

Sara Reyes said...

Instead of going away, Betty Gordon, the personal meeting with readers is more important than ever. I run three book clubs per month and the number of immediate ebook purchases made by readers who get a positive buzz from other book club members they trust is amazing to me. AT THE CLUB meeting. The ease of an online purchase or a purchase via their ereader (Kindle or nook) makes the buzz factor even more important.

It's up to the author to get the word out there.

As for too much promotion damaging a book's buzz, I really disagree. If you study every single best seller you'll find what some would label excessive promotion. But guess what, it works.

And as for thinking publicity is only dependent on reviews, no. Many readers don't read reviews, instead as stated before they depend on word-of-mouth from people they "trust."

Raquel Byrnes said...

I'm with Pauline. I heard of books I never would have come across from readers excited about the story. Just wondering how to encourage that.
Edge of Your Seat Romance

D'Ann said...

I have no idea about how to draw readers, but I sure would llke to know how Amanda Hocking did it.

Pauline B Jones said...

This is a pretty interesting interview of author who has made some headway with promotion and self pubbing:

i thought it was interesting that she interacted with readers a lot. obviously found a way to do it without annoying them. (wry grin)

Jacqueline Seewald said...

I've been reading all the comments. So many terrific and helpful ideas for gaining publicity and promoting books!

It's particularly helpful that Sara and other readers who are involved in book clubs respond to this blog.

Speaking for myself, I am a reader first and a writer second. I am always looking to read new writers myself.

Pauline, thanks for coming back and offering this interesting author interview. I think we
can probably agree that writers and readers do need more interaction.

I know I pay attention to what readers tell me they like about my novels and what changes or new directions they would like to see. I'm always experimenting with genres.

Alice Duncan said...

Great post, Jacquie! I really hate self-promotion, so I'm always glad when one of the Big Four reviews my books, although I don't think reviews help sales. If I knew what *did* help sales, I'd jump on it--unless it involved a whole bunch of self-promotion. I get really tired of people who can't say anything at all without referring to their own books. Than again, I've been really crabby lately :-)

Jacqueline Seewald said...

Hi, Alice,

I believe reviews from the major review pubs do matter in getting library orders. But getting a large reader base is much more complex. Publicity is really important. Self-promotion? Not so great as others have observed.

Alice Duncan said...

Have you figured out how to generate publicity? I haven't. It's really kind of depressing. In fact, It's *very* depressing.

Joyce Elson Moore said...

Hi Jackie: You've hit a nerve with yur post. It's such a shanging industry, who knows where/how to promote? For The Tapestry Shop, I hired someone to hit several online reviewers and it seems to have helped. I'm not good at self-promoting. I'm just not a sales person, but I do give a lot of workshops. I think it's up to each individual to find your comfort zone and go from there. Thanks for the timely post.

Cindy Sample said...

What a terrific post and such thought provoking comments. As a new author with one release so far I've tried every promotional aspect I could think of and they all work to some extent. One of my most successful ventures has been to attend a few meet-up groups, particularly groups of business professionals. They normally read only non-fiction, so my humorous mystery is a an entertaining diversion for them. And since they are all active in promoting their businesses they've been promoting my book on FB as well. So word of mouth is working via the internet.

Thanks again for such a great discussion.

Jacqueline Seewald said...

Joyce and Cindy,

Thanks for sharing promotional ideas that have worked for you. I hope other writers read your responses. I believe they will find them very helpful. I know I do.

Jacqueline Seewald said...


You are a well-known writer already and a much respected editor. Not many authors can claim a starred review from BOOKLIST!

Terre Britton said...

Hello Jacqueline,

Firstly, I wish you all the best with your books!

And, secondly, you pose very interesting statements and questions. I agree, any news is good news. Personally, I prefer ‘good’ :) As for eBooks, well, I love both digital and paper. But, I’m guessing that today’s generation is at the cusp, and that the upcoming youths—that spend endless minutes and hours social networking and relying heavily on the digital world and the net to describe their ‘space’—might tip the scales in the near future to digital.

Thank you for the thought-provoking questions.

Because of the nature of your blog—Author Expressions—I thought you might be interested in this. If you have time, please join us today for the launch of "Author's Dialogue," a new author series hosted by myself, Terre Britton, and sponsored by Sirius Press, Inc. The premiere author interview is with Fantasy writer Kevin Lee

Again, all the best with your books.


Maryann Miller said...

I agree with Sara and others who have commented that self-promotion can be beneficial. The key is to be doing that without the type of marketing that entails whapping readers with constant messages that say "buy my book." Self-promotion means that we are letting people know about us and our work and letting them decide whether they are interested in buying a book we have written. It doesn't involve begging, pleading, bribing or any other sort of pressure-type sales approach. LOL

Jacqueline Seewald said...

Hi, Maryann,

You're right. None of us like "in-your-face" pushy promotions as readers. So it stands to reason that as writers we need to promote and publicize our writing in a subtle manner. One way is to offer blogs that are of interest and value to readers and writers. I think a lot of us try to do that. Certainly interviews are helpful as well.

Anonymous said...

One thing is simply to get work out on the internet and elsewhere as much as you can (I'm thinking primarily of short story writers or those at lest who have published a body of short pieces as well as novels), including reprints where possible. Include a website or blog in your bio so people who like what they see can come to you to see what your latest work is.

Jacqueline Seewald said...

Excellent advice, James. It is a very good idea for novelists to also have short stories available for readers. Blogging and websites also get the word out.

Anonymous said...

I agree with so many insightful comments. In the end, it's not the time I spend promoting that counts, it's a matter of choosing how to spend my valuable time that makes the difference. Thanks, Jacqueline.

Jacqueline Seewald said...

I agree with you Rebbie that time is precious and needs to be well spent. Does social networking help sell books or is it wiser to simply get on with our writing?