Book Promotion 101

by Meredith Cole

Here’s everything I’m sure know about successful book promotion:

It takes time and/or money. Preferably lots of both.

On my first book, POSED FOR MURDER, I had a little bit of money and a lot of time. I hired a publicist. I went to BEA, ALA, LIM, Malice, Virginia Festival of the Book, Decatur Book Festival, Southern Festival of the Book. I guest blogged. I did radio interviews. I lost track of how many conferences, festivals and events I had been to. I tried to be anywhere and everywhere. Goodreads, Facebook, Myspace. I went a little crazy. My husband can tell you all about it.

Did my book blitz work?

Who knows? But St. Martin’s Minotaur bought my second book, DEAD IN THE WATER, so I must have been doing something right. At least I got a chance to do it all again.

On my second book, I had almost no money and practically no time. I told a friend that I was going to try to be “Zen” about my book promotion. She laughed and said she had no idea what I meant. We were both way too type A to be Zen Masters. But I really didn’t want to go crazy again, so I scaled back a little. I went to Malice, ALA (it was local), BEA (I happened to be in NY), I toured North Carolina with a group of mystery writers, and I went to Bouchercon. I blogged. I guest blogged. I did local events. And I said no when I felt I couldn’t do something.

Interestingly enough, stepping back on the second book taught me that I had a secret weapon at my disposal for both books that cost neither money nor time: guardian angels.

I’m not talking the kind of angels that flap around or wear crowns or sit on clouds. These angels are way subtler and they walk amongst us. I’ve had more than my share touch me on the shoulder and give me help on everything on my marketing journey. Usually they are a way more experienced writer who likes to help out newbies. Occasionally the angel was a reader, or a librarian or a bookseller. Anyway, when you are a new writer, any help at all feels like a huge gift. And I received a lot of gifts. (Thanks y’all – you know who you are…)

So here’s my book promotion strategy in a nutshell:

Find someone smart who is successful. Follow them around (with their permission of course) and ask lots of questions. Steal anything they do that seems like it’s working and is a good fit for you and your book. Try it. Then repeat from step A.

Does it work?

I’ll let you know. I guess the best indicator will be on that day when I’ve got a crowd following me around and borrowing my ideas instead of the other way around. Meanwhile, I’ll just keep learning the ropes. And giving gifts to other newbies.

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