How to Market Your Book on a Shoe-String Budget
© 2009 Judy Azar LeBlanc
Who said strike-three and you're out? Here's how I beat the odds of going from a POD published author to a Multi-Award Winning Author with good sales, successful book signings, and a high internet profile.
I've been writing ever since I can remember; but my real enjoyment for it came to me when I was in college. Later, during the "career" years of my life, I wrote proposals for the US Government. After many years of being told what and how to write, I was so tired of writing, that I said "when I retire, I am going to throw away my ‘red' pen and NEVER WRITE AGAIN"! Well, that lasted about 10 years. Then one day when my husband and I were living in a small beach town in the middle of Baja Mexico, I got the itch to start writing again. I said to myself, "now I can write what I love to write about and not what I'm told to write about." That sounded like so much fun. Little did I know that it would be the beginning of a brand new career in not only writing, but in Marketing!
After I finished my first book in 1990, I struggled to find a publisher, especially while living in a foreign country that had not yet heard of computers or the internet. After spending a few years of sending copies of the manuscript via "snail-mail", I did manage to get it published and that is as far as it ever got ... published.
However, by the time 2006 rolled around, the small town I was living in finally got connected to cyberspace, and vualla 16 years later the outside world was now at my fingertips, my fourth book was now finished and I was actually able to go on-line to look for a publisher! But, because I was still living in a foreign country, my new challenge was "how in the world was I supposed to get the book marketed"? That was the beginning of my dependence on Google, and the birth of my on-line book-marketing. At first, I was completely lost and had no idea even where to begin. I had already been duly warned against POD-publishing. You can't get reviews, you can't get shelf space, and you can't get respect. Being naïve, I decided to completely ignore those warnings and just looked straight ahead. I signed up for book reading clubs, book marketing sites, and every single newsletter that pertained to books, authors, writing or anything that remotely looked like it was for authors or about books. From the information given on those newsletters, I was able to find several book reviewers that I could email and asked if they would like to review my book. As they responded and the book reviews came in and were posted, I was able to make some marketing flyers to use for promotion. Once the reviews were built up, I was then able to start emailing the book sites that allow authors to promote their books. Most of the sites are no charge, while others charge a minimal fee of anywhere from $10-$25.00 for the inclusion. From there, I began to ask for author interviews at most of these sites. Because of the great reviews that the book received, and the positive response to author interviews, my confidence was built and I was now ready to start entering the book in the book contests. Each time the book would win an award, or would get an awesome review, I would send out a press release about it. By this time, I had collected enough promotional material about the book to build a media kit which included flyers about the book awards, press releases, brochures, and the book, and more importantly ~ I was back in the USA!. Now I was able to look for places that gave television and radio interviews, then I either emailed or called them to ask if I could send them a media kit. This helped because as the responses came, I was able to make another promotional flyer to add to the media kit.
Then a funny thing happened. I began to get emails from people asking me if I would send them a copy of my book to review, a media kit or in some cases, even an interview. Not only that, I began to get invitations to attend book signing events, not from our traditional book stores, but from associations, or conferences. I also find it a lot easier now to call local bookstores to ask for a book signing. The great news is that they usually say yes, and as uncommon as this may seem, they don't seem to have a problem with ordering a few extras to keep on the shelf.
I also try to attend most of the annual book festivals, book fairs and conferences throughout the area; and, now that the foundation is in place, the media kit and web page built, I am able to have the book represented at different book fairs throughout the country as well as some of the international book fairs.
I hope this is an encouragement to you, as I discovered that marketing your book is like building a house. A house is only as good as its foundation; and like a house, once your book has a good foundation, the rest is easier. It all takes time and effort. In the age of internet, the kind support from many good people, word of mouth, and with the unlimited resources of web marketing, you can do it too.
Here is a short list of some of the sites that I use for marketing tips, publishing tips, writing tips, places where you can get your book reviewed, contest listings, free author listings, free author interviews, and some great marketing newsletters. I hope they are as helpful to you as they have been for me.