This month’s Shameless Self-Promotion discusses in the flesh book promotion events such as book parties, readings and signings. Stella Price, the promotional genius at Phaze Books, has agreed to talk with us about some of her favorite methods of meeting new readers, with signings at the top of the list. Stella is the author of numerous romance/dark urban fantasy novels, including 2009 Fantasm winners Deep Water and Frost & Flame, along with her sister Audra Price. It’s a real pleasure to welcome Stella and hear her extremely useful tips for dealing with bookstores, arranging signings and enchanting readers.
Shameless Self-Promotion: What have you found to be the most effective ways to promote your novel (or story collection or anthologies)?
Stella Price: Word of mouth helps a lot. Along with special promotional items that are specifically for your books.
SSP: The most enjoyable?
I love signings! I love meeting people.
SSP: The least effective ways or biggest challenges?
Loop chats are the worst in my opinion. Unless your with a certain publisher, or a favorite, you don’t get much out of it.
SSP: What has been the most surprising thing about the experience of book promotion?
The amount of people we have met from giving stuff out, who LOVE the ideas and don’t read romance, but end up buying your work because of the gimmick.
SSP: Did it change your view of your writing and the writing process?
Nope. Everything is still the same, just a lot more promotions to get the work out there.
SSP: What advice would you give to a person just starting out as a published author who would like to promote their novel/stories? Is there anything you would definitely do differently if you had the chance to do it over?
Get out there and make yourself and what you write known. Get to as many conventions and events as possible to get your name out there. Relying on online promo alone is unwise, because so many online readers have already chosen their favorites and don’t want to try anyone new.
SSP: If you’ve used a publicist or other professional consultant to promote your work what have been the benefits? The downside?
No I haven’t because I don’t believe in paying someone to do something I can do myself with money I don’t have.
SSP: How helpful do you find the following promotional tools:
Setting up a website—did you do it yourself or hire a professional?
Websites are the way to go. a place to have your work for all to find it is paramount.
I like it, And I do it at several places, usually group blogs.
Mailing lists/author newsletters:
Recently these have been doing extremely well for us. The newsletter lists have been beloved because there’s a concentrated set of “fans” in one place. Getting sales for new books is easiest this way instead of dispersing Emails around the net. The mailing lists we have are snail mail lists. Every month we send out goodies, even if it’s just a signed bookflat of a new book to the snail mail list. As of now we have over 300 people on those lists, and it has worked out great. It’s also an awesome way to send out signing information.
I don’t use them, though I have done guest spots on blogs.
Getting your book reviewed—the challenges and successes:
I love reviews. They help a lot with selling the work to others with quotes, though the sites the reviews don’t really matter. It’s what you take away from them that works best.
Something we do all the time, though we rarely get people entering.
LOVE them. Any kind of event is fantastic to meet new and old readers!
They are fun, and amusing, but I haven’t gotten much out of it by way of sales.
Approaching local bookstores directly:
Tricky, but luckily I have perfected this. It’s extremely time consuming, almost a full time job. You need to be diligent, and keep on the stores. I suggest making a PDF of the information they will need. Signing dates you’re looking for, genre, what you will offer, ISBN’s, book names, etc. The easiest way to get a signing is to call them and touch base with their Community Relations Manager, (B&N) or the Inventory Manager/Floor manager at Borders. Ask for an email address after you pitch the signing to them, tell them you will send them the PDF so they can check it all out and decide. Then if you don’t hear in a week or so, call back. You have to keep on them. Also, as an author, you need to know your signing rights. Both B&N and Borders have brochures that tell you what they expect and what you can expect from them.
I don’t do readings.
We do a lot of these. We have a group that does then and we tend to sell pretty well.
Fun and get people interested, but I don’t think they have gotten us sales.
Interviews in local or national media:
Pretty interesting and have helped with local sales.
Promoting at writing workshops or through other businesses:
Swag–such as postcards, bookmarks, pens, flyers, T shirts, magnets, etc. Which has been the most useful?
People love promo. Stickers, pins and pens work best for us at the normal every day signing, but for conferences and such I bring out the big guys: soaps, metal bookmarks, bath salts, candles, matches, etc.
Any other strategies you’d like to suggest?
Signing tours! These take place in bookstores. Actually we do them in groups. It helps to have other people there to talk to and to help with the personalization of the event. We do them mainly in chain bookstores, like Borders, BN, Books a Million, Hastings, Etc. Also, at indie book shops, though they are a bit tougher to work around because they have to have a large readership in the genre you write in.
Thank you so much, Stella, for sharing your insights and suggestions!