Guest blog by Debby Mayne
Our guest today is Debby Mayne, an accomplished novelist with over 30 books and novellas published since 2000! She has also publshed over 400 short stories and a slew of devotions for women. She has also worked as managing editor of a national health magazine, product information writer for HSN, a creative writing instructor for Long Ridge Writers Group, and a copy editor and proofreader for several book publishers. For many years she has judged the Writers Digest Annual Competition, Short-Short Contest, and Self-Published Book Competition.
You can visit her web site at www.debbymayne.com.
Before I sold my first novel, I dreamed that once I wrote a book good enough to publish, an editor would call me immediately, tell me how brilliant my book was, offer to buy it, and maybe request a few revisions that’d I’d joyfully do (after I deposited my humongous advance that would cover hiring a publicist and purchasing a big house on the water). Then the publisher would print the book, and the marketing team would make sure it was available for people to purchase. I envisioned full window displays of my book at my favorite stores with people lining up to buy them…and of course I was sitting at a table signing my books as quickly as possible to keep the crowd moving.
I know, but remember this was a dream.
Eventually, an editor did call and say she loved my story, but I needed to address a few issues—and we talked for almost an hour before she sent pages of revisions. Oh, and she offered a humbling advance that didn’t stretch far enough to cover promotion or much more than my next mortgage payment. Of course I was happy to accept the offer, but my perspective changed.
I’ve made bookstores and libraries my second home since I could read, but the first time I walked into a bookstore as a published author, I saw everything differently. Every row in the fiction section had hundreds (thousands?) of books that were all written by capable authors who wanted the same thing I did. It quickly became evident that I needed to finish what I started. I wrote the book for people to read, and now it was up to me to make sure that happened.
I’m fortunate that the publishers I work with have expert marketing teams who know how to get the product out there, so I don’t have to worry about the lack of availability. As a former newspaper public relations rep, I understand the value of publicity. I don’t have a problem talking to people, and I have a pretty good idea how to get word out to the masses. However, I don’t have a corporate size budget, so I have to decide what will work best for each book as it comes out.
Over the past twelve years as a published writer, I’ve watched successful authors, adopted some of their promotional ideas, and come up with a few of my own. Here are some of the things authors can do to promote their books:
- Have a web presence. Most published authors I know have a website, a blog, and participate in blog tours to generate interest in their books.
- Get social. Participate in social media such as Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn, and don’t always make it about yourself. Sometimes others like to know you care what’s going on in their lives as well.
- Let people know what’s coming. I like to send postcards to all the people on my mailing list so they’ll receive them a week or two before my book is due to release. Some authors send them earlier, but I don’t want to do the mailing too soon and risk people forgetting about the book.
- Partner with booksellers. I let all the booksellers in my area know when I’m about to have a new release. Sometimes I do a signing, but other times I just provide bookmarks and offer to sign stock when it comes in. If they’re allowed to accept review books (and most are), I offer one of my author copies to the bookseller.
- Talk to people. I’m an avid reader, so I spend hours and hours perusing the shelves for something new to read. If someone else is in the same row, I try to find a way to strike up a conversation. Sometimes I comment on a book they’re examining, or I might ask what types of books they like and recommend something by an author I know. I might even ask them for a recommendation. At some point, I try to find a way to let them know I’m an author. If the store has any of my books in stock, I point them out if it’s not too awkward. If you’re shy, you may have a difficult time approaching strangers, but I recommend stepping out of your comfort zone and giving it a try. Once you realize most readers are open to your suggestions, you might find it enjoyable.
- Look for interview opportunities. Contact your radio and TV stations, newspapers, and regional magazines. Let them know you’re available for interviews. If you’re doing a special event, ask if they might consider covering it.
- Target your market. Some of my most recent releases have been regional, so I do everything I can to get my books into the hands of people from those areas. After I received author copies of Love Finds You in Treasure Island, Florida, I drove down to this beautiful little beach town. I hand-delivered a copy of the book and a stack of postcards to the mayor, the city communications director, and the owners of two restaurants I mentioned in the book. Since this was a Christian romance, I stopped by a couple of churches and gave copies to people in the offices. Another book, Sweet Baklava, was set in the Greek community of Tarpon Springs. In addition to bringing copies of the book to several of the places I mentioned in the story, I brought some samples of baklava. I like to leave a few postcards to anyone who is willing to read my book to make it easier for them to get the word out to their friends.
- Keep a book handy and be generous. I try to keep at least one or two of my older books in my car so I can offer them to people who might enjoy them. Most people like free stuff, and this gives me an opportunity to share something with new friends who will hopefully become fans. I try to make room in my carryon luggage for a few books, just in case I meet someone who forgot to bring their own reading material. Before I leave a hotel, I leave a generous tip beside a signed copy of my latest book.
- Join the club. Or at least offer to be a guest speaker at reading groups and book clubs in your area. Have a list of discussion questions on your website so members can print and have them available. Bring door prizes that can be one of your older books or something symbolic from the current book.
- Benefit others. Offer some sort of charity tie-in and give to others. Use your story as a tool to teach readers what you’re passionate about, and then give a portion of your earnings to that charity. Even if you choose not to tell people about your donation, your passion for the cause will come through in the story, and you may actually have a positive impact on someone else’s life.
My strategy varies with each book I write. I think the key is coming up with a marketing plan that is doable and gets the attention of the target audience. Figure out how much money and time you have to commit to promoting your books and make a list of what you need to do.
Debby’s latest novel came out on July 1st in a digital first release from B&H Publishing as part of the Bloomfield series. Click the cover below and get your copy today for only $2.99!