Friday, September 20, 2013

How to Reach Readers: 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. Bad reviews hurt a writer’s sales and recognition as a serious author. Nevertheless, being ignored by reviewers is not something that authors appreciate either. Readers aren’t going to buy books they’ve never heard of. No reviews? No publicity? No sales.

So how do authors go about reaching readers, building a following among those who buy books? After all, it’s not just the small independent publishers who 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.

How should writers go about reaching and building a readership? I’m going to offer a few suggestions that won’t break your bank account.

l. Use the internet:

a. Create a website (no, I still haven’t done one yet, but I intend to create my own website soon--really).

b. Do social networking such as blogging. Create your own blog and guest blog on other sites. Interview other authors. Offer to do interviews on other sites, not those only for writers. Reach out to a more general, larger audience.

c. Create a presence on such popular internet sites as: Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Shelfari, Booktown, etc.

d. Join Yahoo writer groups of authors with common interests. Be an active reader and comment often in group and on their blogs.

e. Be willing to read and review the work of other writers.

f. Ask other authors in your genre to read and review your books as well. You want as many reviews as possible on Amazon. B&N, Goodreads and Library Thing.

g. Send out advance review copies to internet reviewers who read in your genre. Reviews are important and we can’t always get them from the major review publications.

h. Offer ARCs as giveaways both on your site, other sites, and most especially on Goodreads. Example: The novel THE THIRD EYE: A PINE BARRENS MYSTERY, co-authored with my older son Andrew Seewald, was published by Five Star/Gale in hardcover in September. I offered a Giveaway of three copies on Goodreads in the months prior. Many readers see these announcements. So there is publicity value and hopefully at least one of the readers will eventually post a favorable review on Goodreads. I also gave away copies to readers of Author Expressions.

i. Is giving away free books a good method of increasing overall sales and getting publicity for an author’s brand? It appears to do so for ebooks. Many writers are offering free ebooks on Amazon and Nook. Usually this creates awareness of an author who has numerous books to offer. I don’t have the statistics on how well this is working out. If you do, please comment.

2. Bookstore signings and events are great. However, as we are aware with the demise of Borders among others, as well as the closing of many B&N brick and mortar bookstores, these opportunities, unless you are a famous author, have diminished dramatically. My advice is to see if there are any small, independent bookstores that you can contact. Be prepared to advertise your “event”/signing yourself.

3. Library Events. Offer to do a program at your local library. You can have a book signing and selling afterward if the library approves.

4. Don’t forget to advertise every program you do. Contact the local newspapers and
offer a “news release.”

5. Your college probably has a graduate publication, magazine or newsletter. The publication of your book is certainly a newsworthy item.

6. Consider selling books at various unexpected places. Book fairs sponsored by local libraries are great and so are craft shows, however, you might think of a more creative venue. Try to think outside the box. For example, suppose your novel is about a baker. Is there a local bakery that might display and sell your books on consignment?  Is your novel set in a beauty parlor? Would a beauty shop owner allow your books selling space for a cut of the profits?

7. Attending conferences. Many writers swear by them. It’s a great place for networking and connecting. You can meet editor, agents and other authors. At the very least, you can interact and get interesting feedback and share ideas. Since our work is solitary, this is a good way to know you are not alone.

8. Some writers publish their own newsletters which advertise the release of their new books as they come out.

9. You might also keep friends and relatives in the loop through e-mail announcements.

10. Send out announcements to acquisition librarians, especially if your book has had good reviews which you can quote. This can be done inexpensively via e-mail.

Have I left out anything that I should be mentioning? As a writer, what promotion and or publicity ideas have worked well for you and might work well for other authors?
Readers, what determines the books you will select to purchase or borrow from a library? I would love to share ideas in this forum.

Last month I gave away several ARCs of THE THIRD EYE to readers who left comments on Author Expressions. This mystery novel is now published in hardcover from Five Star/Gale:

You can buy it at Amazon, B&N online, etc. or request it at your local library.

 This month to celebrate the new Harlequin Worldwide Mystery paperback edition of DEATH LEGACY

 I again offer copies to those who comment. Just leave an e-mail address between now and September 26, 2013.


Nikki said...

Really helpful summary, Jacqui. I can't think of a thing to add. Your suggestion about copies of the ARC is interesting, and I'd like to know how to go about it, for future reference.

Pamela S Thibodeaux said...

All great ideas, Jacqueline!
Good luck & God's blessings!

Jacqueline Seewald said...

Hi, Nikki,

The ARCs (advance review copies) are produced by the publisher. They are sent out about five months before the actual pub date of a book. They go out in print paperback style copies to all the important review pubs. Those reviews often determine library sales. The most important ones are: Library Journal, Publishers Weekly, Booklist and Kirkus. There are many others as well. Those reviews are very important to hardcover publication.

Patricia Gligor's Writers Forum said...

Lots of great suggestions, Jacqueline. Thanks!
Several months ago, my publisher and I did a free promotion for the e-book version of my mystery novel, Mixed Messages. Lots of people downloaded my book and, when the promotion ended, sales for the next month increased dramatically. All things considered, it was definitely worth it.

Jacqueline Seewald said...

Hi, Pam,

Thanks for your good wishes. I hope my ideas are helpful and useful to other writers.

Anna Seewald said...

Very insightful and through.

Jacqueline Seewald said...

Hi, Patricia,

I agree with you. I think free ebooks can be used effectively to promote reader interest in a writer's body of work. This is true of short stories as well. Offer a free short occasionally to rev up interest in novels.

Jacqueline Seewald said...


Thanks for dropping by. I think your parenting site is the very best examples of a quality blog.

Rose Anderson said...

All terrific info, great insight, Jacqueline.

Peter Green said...

Among the many good ideas you present, I agree that getting reviews--and then re-quoting them yourself on your website and your Amazon Author Page as "critical reviews"--are extremely important. I gave a copy of Crime of Design to a lit professor I was helping out by teaching a mystery unit in her college fiction course. She gave it to her husband, who writes for Riverways Journal, a time-honored publication known as the "Riverman's Bible." According to Nielsen's Bookscan, within two weeks of his review's publication I sold 120 copies up and down the rivers and the inland waterway system, in 30 states. Peter

Jacqueline Seewald said...

Thanks, Rose, glad you found the suggestions helpful.

Jacqueline Seewald said...

Hi, Peter,

That's very impressive! You also show the importance of getting publication reviews to boost book sales.

Nancy Means Wright said...

All good suggestions, Jacquie. I have a hard time asking people to review my books--this takes a lot of time for others, but I realize I have to. Yet next week my son's Very Merry Theatre based in Vermont will present a puppet show I wrote and at the same time promote my kids mysteries, plus my new middle grade historical: Walking into the Wild. We're hoping for lots of sales through this unusual book promotion.

Betty Gordon said...

Jacquie, once again -- a great blog that says so much about securing promotion. I think it is hard for many of us to ask for reviews, but once you do it - they are there the next time.

Thanks for good suggestions.

Jan Christensen said...

Jacqueline, I don't think you left anything out! Good list of things to do. The trick is finding the time to do them all. When you figure that out, would you write another post please? LOL

Marilyn Levinson said...

A very good post. I do most of what you have listed. Truthfully, I don't know if many of them have helped me sell books. Still, I continue to do what I can to get my name out there without constantly shouting my wares.

I'm very wary of offering to write reviews for fellow authors unless I know and like their style. Not thinking much about a book you've been asked to review puts you in a very awkward position.

I think contests and giveaways are great, but I don't think I'll give away free books on a grand scale ever again. There are too many free books available.

Alice Duncan said...

These are wonderful ideas, Jacquie. Wish I did more of them. Sigh.

Jacqueline Seewald said...

Hi, Nancy,

I think offering your books for sale at a children's play that you wrote is an excellent way to go. It's definitely thinking out of the box. Hope you get lots of sales!

Jacqueline Seewald said...

Hi, Betty,

I hate asking others to go to the trouble of reviewing my books too.
But sometimes it's really necessary.

Jacqueline Seewald said...

Hi, Jan,

I agree with you about time allocation. Publicizing and promoting our work takes precious time away from actual writing. And that is a serious problem. We have to do a balancing act. I write early in the morning for the most part and then social network afterwards, returning to writing again in the evening. This schedule works for me, although it might not for others.

Jacqueline Seewald said...

Hi, Marilyn,

Since I read your blog, I can assure you that you do a fine job publicizing your work.

Jacqueline Seewald said...

Hi, Alice,

I think you do a great job publicizing on Facebook as well as blogging.

Joan Reeves said...

Excellent post with sound advice.

Gail Farrelly said...


Wonderful ideas from you as well as from the commenters.

Local librarians always do a lot for me when I have a new book. Presentations, local publicity (they have THE contacts), talking it up to patrons who are often looking for books to give as gifts, etc. I try to reciprocate by emailing the librarians items of general interest, even when I'm not peddling something. I want them to know how grateful I am. When I can, I want to help them to do THEIR job.

I write spoofs at It's a British website, and it's read all over the world. It's not a paying gig, but it's fun and provides lots of ongoing publicity. Here's a recent spoof that's been quite successful: "Twitter Birdies Channel Elvis As They Twerk Instead of Tweet"

Jacquie, I wish you lots of luck with all your books, especially the latest one.

Jacqueline Seewald said...

Hi, Joan,

Thank you. I very much value your posts as well.

Jacqueline Seewald said...

Hi, Gail,

I agree with you about librarians. They can be very helpful to writers.
I definitely intend to check out It sounds like a fun site.

bn100 said...

Sounds like useful advice

bn100candg at hotmail dot com

Unknown said...

Thanks for sharing your valuable insights, Jacquie. I've taken many of these steps already, but there's always something else on the To Do list. Promo and publicity eat up so much time. I'd prefer to be writing! Your books look wonderful.

Jacqueline Seewald said...

Thanks for commenting, bn100!

Jacqueline Seewald said...

Hi, Gemma,

I so agree with you about preferring to write than publicize!

Bobbi A. Chukran, Author said...

Good article, Jacqueline--thanks! I didn't know about Booktown, and will go check it out. bobbi c.

Jacqueline Seewald said...

Hi, Bobbi,

There are a lot of connections that are helpful to writers. I'll work on discovering more for the future and letting other authors know about them.

Karen Michelle Nutt said...

Enjoyed the post. All fantastic ideas, Jacqueline!

Jacqueline Seewald said...

Thanks, Karen. I believe you have many good ideas for this as well.

joye said...

Thanks for the giveaway. I am always looking for new authors to read.

Jacqueline Seewald said...

Hi, Joye,

Thanks for dropping by and leaving a comment!

Sylvia said...

Great list all in one place of possible activities to publicize our work, Jacquie. Thanks. You practice what you preach about reviews. You did a wonderful one for the Green Mist anthology we were in for L&LDreamspell.

Jacqueline Seewald said...

Hi, Sylvia,

Thanks for dropping by! I loved being part of the Dreamspell creative team. Altogether, my short stories were included in 7 of the anthologies.
I reviewed most of them. I enjoyed reading the stories of so many fine writers.

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