Thursday, June 26, 2008

Promotion--What Works for You?

I'm curious. What types of promotion work? For you, I mean--as a reader and consumer. What makes you pick up a book off a shelf at a book store? What makes you get online to search for a particular title?
What works?
Here's what draws me to buy a book (in order of importance to me):

1. Author recognition. If I love one book by an author, I usually try to find every book she ever wrote.

2. Word of mouth/Recommendation--in person and online. If I hear people talking about a book, it peaks my curiosity and helps push me to buy.

3. Back cover blurb. Although a cover or title might catch my eye, I always pick the book up and read the back. It has to grab me, or I'll put it back no matter how cute the cover.

4. Price. I very rarely buy a hardback because of the expense. I wait until it comes out in paperback. I'm also really selective about whose books I'll buy in trade paperback. It has to be someone I really like to spend twice the amount. Sales and special offers entice me to buy. Also, winning freebies from online contests are a great way to get me to read an author who is new to me--makes it risk free.

5. Knowing the author. My being a writer adds this one to my list. I try to buy the books my friends have written. But before I began to write, I bought books of local authors or of anyone I had met at a book signing or event. That personal connection can be important to readers.

6. Sequels of good books. I love to read a good series!

7. Bestseller lists. This one is pretty far down for me. I don't usually even look at the lists. But shelf-talkers at stores do reel me in. Especially when the booksellers/employees have ranked their favorites.

So what's a girl (or guy) to do to promote her books? Get her name out there. Meet people. Network. Give books away in promotions to try to build that word-of-mouth buzz. Pitch books in series to keep readers following you. And meet booksellers.

If you're unpublished, then you can do most of this as well! Except for giving books away. But you can give away books by other authors to build your blog or website readership.

And the number one thing pubbed and unpubbed both can do? Write the very best book you can write! Oh, and perfect the art of the back cover blurb. :)



  1. The old cliche of "never judge a book by its cover" doesn't work for me. If I'm browsing through the store or a website, the first thing I see is the cover. I'm immediately drawn to historical romance looking covers, or women's fiction. Then the next thing I do is read the backcover blurb. After fifteen minutes of doing this, I usually have about 3-4 books in my hand and I narrow it down from there. I start comparing book blurbs and story lines and plots. I always open up the first page and read it to see if I like the writing style.

    Other ways I pick up books are similar to Missy. I have some favorite authors, and I buy their books. I also like supporting my author friends.

    Last year at the ACFW Conference, I'd heard a lot about Susan May Warren. I'd been eyeing one of her books for a while, but my historicals always won in my little comparison shopping technique. So this time I was determined to try her, even though it was contemporary and the cover didn't draw me. It wasn't bad, it just didn't grab me. Sands of Time was wonderful! I've since disected the book and I've studied a lot of her writing techniques. And of course, I loved yours, Missy!

  2. Oh, I forgot to mention promotion techniques. I'm currently working on my first book video for a manuscript that was just requested by an editor. Even if this book isn't published, I think the experience in creating the book video will be good for me. Not sure how effective until I actually have something to sell.

    God has given me one great thing that helps with promotion and that's MY NAME. Everyone looks up the celebrity Jennifer Hudson and they find my site. I've noticed many of them actually browse through it. Others search for the famous 19th Century Christian missionary to China, Hudson Taylor. Often I'm asked if I'm one of his descendants.

    One thing that has helped me is to create a blog schedule, update it regularly and give people the opportunity to subscribe to it. I'm not even published and I'm receiving subscriptions, and these started increasing when I did the schedule thing and stayed consistent. I haven't done so well this month b/c of vacation. But hopefully I'll get back on schedule.

    Also, I think being president of Carolina Christian Writers is helping me gain some visibility on the local level. People are starting to actually search for my complete name with quotations. When they search for Carolina authors or local Christian authors, my site is ranked close to the top. Now I just need something to sell them.

    Join other groups that have an interest in areas of your author brand or that might related to all, some, or one of your books. For instance, I've linked and joined several genealogy sites and organizations, as well as the Ladies of Reenactments. These folks are very interested in history and many of them are readers. And guess what, I'm going to have some historicals that might interest them one day.

  3. Great ideas, Jenn! Thanks for sharing your methods for shopping.

    That's so cool about your name! I wish I had a famous name. :)

    You're right about the blog. I'm bad about updating mine regularly. Now that Blogger lets you schedule for automatic posts, I think it can help if we can manage to write them ahead of time. :)

  4. Ok as our christian bookshops mainly have books lined up so you see the spine the cover isn't really seen but i do get the catalogues and the cover does affect me. When i go to Koorong i start at A and look for authours I know, Titles is a big thing, then the back cover. I have to admit i won a book and hated the cover it wasn't a cover that did justice but the book was wonderful so sometimes the cover is a put off.
    I also know what sorts of books i really like. Price is a factor as books cost so much i tend to pick out several then have to make a choice cos its amazing how they add up.
    Book blogs help to reading about the book before hand.
    they had some heartsong presents on the shelf at koorong facing out and I picked about 4 of them based mainly on the cover and the genre.
    i think htey had 8 in all. but cover then blurb were (and i had to by Mary Conneallys) were the way i picked the final 3.

  5. Thanks for your input, Jenny! It really helps to hear waht readers have to say.