Book trailers are short promotional videos that introduce your book in a creative or dramatic way. You can post them on your website and on YouTube and share them on social media. Top authors have them created, but what about you? If you feel up to the challenge, here are two online platforms that might help. We have not used these yet, and once we do, we may adjust our opinion of them. But for now, we wanted to give you some options to investigate. More on Book Trailers coming soon!
Who they are:
Your launch team is a group of people who are your fans. People you know or are acquainted with. They have to genuinely love your book and the genre of your book, not just love you! Your launch team isn’t your spouse or your parents. They may love you, but you’ll need others on your team.
They also must have time to be a part of the team, especially around the time you launch your book. Even though we encourage you to have an ongoing marketing plan for your book, it is always fun to create buzz and excitement when your book is first available. Have a party, you deserve it.
Other writers make good launch team members. You can always return the favor when their next book comes out.
What they do:
- Read and review your book on Amazon or Goodreads
- Promote your book on their social media
- Help you come up with promotional ideas and execute those ideas
- Host a party, reading or book club
- Offer other contacts they know to expand your team
- Help expand your network of authors, reviewers or influencers to get the word out
- Help build excitement
- Provide support and encouragement as well as critical thinking and perspective
What you offer them:
- A free PDF copy of your book to read and review
- A free physical copy as a gift
- If they are authors, you offer to return the favor
- Pre-publication insights into your next book
- If your book is nonfiction, you can offer free ancillary work (workbooks, articles, videos, consulting, coupons, etc.) that may accompany your book.
- Some authors offer other free gifts as a token of their appreciation
How and what to communicate with your team:
- It is best to start with a personal invitation
- Set up a private group on Facebook to keep everyone on track
- Keep them updated on the timing of things (release, availability, events, eBook, NetGalley campaign, press releases, etc.). This gives them more information to share.
- Give them the tools and strategies. Don’t make them guess what to do. Make it clear and as easy as possible. Be sure your team has a small graphic of your book, memes, ads, social share images (these should be on your website) or anything else they can use to help spread the word.
- Stay in touch continually to keep up the excitement
Note: Even if your book has already been released, you can recruit fans to review and share! It’s never too late to get the word out about your book!
Independent bookstores are passionate about books but also need to make money to stay in business. Remember this first and foremost when approaching bookstore owners and managers. See the Independent Bookstores spreadsheet for a complete listing of stores around the country. Sort and focus on stores in your area.
Build a relationship
Don’t talk about Amazon, or how well your book is doing on Amazon to an independent bookstore. Remember, they are competitors.
Go to the store, buy some books. Get to know the manager. Find out what kind of books they carry and sell most based on what kind of customers come in. Get a feel for them, look at their social media sites. What other authors or events do they feature? The more you know, the better you will be able to communicate with them when the time comes.
Bring in customers
Independent bookstores are more than just a place to buy books, they’re becoming community hubs. When you pitch your book or event, consider ways you can support them and their community. Bookstores are not there to market you or your book. If you want your book to sell at a specific store, start a campaign. Have your friends and family who live near the store, request copies of your book. Have them stagger their requests so your book sees consistent demand. When you approach that store to ask if they’ll stock your book, or hold an event, management will be more agreeable. The more you bring in business, the more the bookstore will support you.
Regarding bookstore events, there are three ways books can get to the store:
- Author consignment: The author purchases the books from Sunbury Press and handles arrangements with the store. This reduces the risk for the store and the publisher. No royalties are paid on these direct-to-author sales, but the author controls their profit by negotiating terms with the store. We recommend this arrangement for non-bookstore venues and for bookstores that do not intend to carry the book on an ongoing basis.
- Publisher: The store can order the books for the event directly from Sunbury Press at a 40% discount with Net 30 payment terms. Direct them to our website for details: http://sunburypress.com/wholesale/
- Distributor: The bookstore can order from Ingram and handle them accordingly, including returns.
We would prefer a direct order — or that you handle the books for your events. This month, we are once again in receipt of a large number of copies returned from book events where the stores over-ordered. These boomerang books are deducted from your royalties and build up in our inventory when you could have just as easily picked them up and used them at your next event. If you are doing a series of author events, please work with the bookstores to prevent returns. They are expensive for all parties involved. Most bookstores will allow you to consign to them or will permit you to buy copies at their cost after the event.
And, for authors ordering books, don’t forget to use the A50 coupon code when checking out on our website. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any questions or a problem with your order. As always, plan ahead. Allow up to three weeks to receive your books.
When it comes to bookstores carrying your book, we would prefer they order from us directly rather than you consigning books or them ordering from the distributor. We both usually make more money when the bookstore buys from us because you will be paid a royalty rather than a slim margin and you do not have to manage the supply chain. When bookstores prefer to use our distributor, we both make the least amount of money, but we also do not have to deal with orders–only returns. Bookstores prefer the distributor because they can process their books through one weekly order. It is just more convenient for them. Keep this in mind if you talk to them.
Be a pro
Just like in the article Turning Pro, you should look and act like a professional. If the bookstore agrees to promotional materials, be ready with them or tell them when you’ll bring them in. Be sure to allow enough time before an event to build interest, include the date and time of the event and your website address. Posters, bookmarks, and postcards are common. If your book is new, Sunbury Press will help with graphics to create promotional materials. Also, always have your professional writer’s business card ready to hand to the owner. If you look like you are a pro, the manager will feel more confident in hosting your book or event.
The first thing to realize, if you don’t already, is book reviews are important. This is true for nonfiction and fiction. Without reviews, sales will remain flat. Also, if you get decent, steady reviews, Amazon pays attention and incorporates this fact into their algorithm. The better your book sells and the more positive (and steady) your book gets reviews the better visibility, which in turn sells more books. It’s a nice cycle.
The second thing to realize is that there is not one single, sure-fire strategy for getting reviews. Authentic, positive book reviews accumulate over time. This means your strategy should be on-going, not simply a pre-launch blitz.
There are services and actions you can take every month to help you get more book reviews, and this long-term approach is exactly how we recommend you go about all of your book marketing efforts. Pace yourself, stay consistent and you will see results.
I’m going to skip over the part where you have to write an engaging, well-researched, well-written book to start with. I will also only mention briefly that you need to know who your ideal readers are (target market), figure out those small pools (vs. the big, wide ocean) and how you have to have two-way communication with your fans since I have already written about these priorities, and I am sure you are on it.
We define blurbs as pier reviews (from other writers or trade publications) that can become part of the metadata, along with the description of the book. These can come from writers you know, Sunbury Press writers (new program coming soon), or authors who you can contact and are willing to review your book and give you a positive blurb. They can also come from big trade publications such as Publisher’s Weekly, Library Journal, Kirkus Reviews. Traditionally, these blurbs were printed on the back cover or on the first page inside the book. Blurbs were sought after and requested at least six months prior to the publication date, so any that came in, could be included in the printing. This practice brought on printed ARCs (advanced reading copies) or galleys. ARCs were books that were printed before the final edits and cover designs in order to garner those highly sought-after big-name reviews from authors or trade publications. However, with the advent of the Internet and the digital age, this practice is becoming less prevalent and much less effective. ARCs are expensive and often those blurbs sought after the most either don’t come in or are less than stellar. Even if the blurb came in and was positive, consumers are less and less inclined to weigh them any more important than other reader’s reviews. This is why Sunbury Press no longer prints ARCs and when blurbs come in, we simply add them to the book’s metadata. This means that when your books are being considered by bookstores or consumers, they will see the blubs along with the book’s description. If you have the opportunity, or inclination to seek out book blurbs, please do so. When they come in, send them to your editor and they will add them to your metadata. You can always submit books after publication to many trade publications and we’ll add the blurbs when they come in.
I will mention, that some publications require a fee to review your book. This practice is becoming less and less attractive. Again, studies show most consumers no longer give them any more consideration than authentic, positive reader reviews.
Sunbury Press will send electronic copies of your book to any potential reviewers. We can also supply you with a PDF copy of your book for you to send out for review. We do recommend you use caution, sending out PDFs to people you do not know. This is the most common way books get pirated and shared online for free. Sales can suffer if readers can simply download it for free.
NetGalley connects publishers and authors to an enthusiastic community of early influencers who will help their book succeed. Publishers and authors list their titles on NetGalley for members to request, read, and review, and members gain free access to a vast catalog of digital review copies.
We list fiction titles on NetGalley for our authors. It is usually active for about 2 weeks. In that time, readers can download and read an electronic version of your book and leave a review. Sometimes, the book is archived before reviews show up, but that is often okay because posting the review on NetGalley isn’t useful, it’s just nice. The useful part of this service is that the readers have agreed to post their reviews on Amazon or Goodreads. This means that these reviews can come in weeks after the book is no longer available on NetGalley.
We have found that after about two weeks, the number of requests for download to read drops off dramatically, that is why it is archived after two weeks.
If after a month, you still have no reviews on Amazon or Goodreads, we can do one of two things. We can make it live on NetGalley again, hopefully getting more requests. Or we can download the list of readers who requested the book and send that list to you. You are free to thank them for their interest and “gently” remind them to post their review on Amazon or Goodreads. You don’t want to be demanding or pushing or you might get a bad review. ‘book was great, but the author is mean…’ Not what anyone wants.
If you already have an email list and social media following, or a reviewer list handy, let your editor know and they can provide you a link to share your NetGalley campaign with your list. Anyone who clicks on it, can join NetGalley as a reader and request the book for download.
Sunbury Press pays for this service and it has worked well for many years in kick-starting the reviews for our fiction authors. However, NetGalley should never be your only strategy for getting reviews.
For nonfiction, our policy is to send copies to major media or academic organizations that promise to review the book. Cision drives these review requests. It is often best for the authors to ship quickly from their supply of books. We will reimburse with a copy with the next shipment. For more on Cision, see http://sunburypress.com/books-and-the-media/
If you have sold a book, and the buyer has read through the entire tome, they most likely enjoyed it. That is the best time to ask for a review. We recommend including a page at the end of each book that includes the author’s website address and asks for a review. It is also a good idea to ask them to join your email list, so you can let them know about new titles coming soon.
One of the most important reasons to have and grow an email subscriber list is to remind people interested in your books to write a review on either Goodreads or Amazon. This should not be the only thing you are sending out to your subscriber base as I have mentioned in other articles. But putting a note in occasionally or at the end of another article reminding your fans to write a review is not only okay, it is highly recommended.
The most well-known and effective platform to post reviews is on Amazon. However, when suggesting your reviewers post praise for your book, be aware that Amazon is serious about authentic reviews. If they suspect any reviews for your book are from family, friends or even the authors themselves, they will remove them. Here are a couple of things to avoid if you want those raving reviews to remain.
- Be sure reviews don’t come in from the same household. If two reviews come in from Amazon customers whose household address is the same. It is likely to get flagged and both removed.
- Just like address above, two reviewers cannot be customers that use the same payment method on amazon.com.
- Reviews should not roll in too close to the publication date. If 2 minutes after the book is posted on Amazon’s site, three really positive reviews pop up, this looks suspicious. It is best to wait a couple of days.
- Reviewers should not mention your name as if they know you. Amazon wants impartial authentic reviewers.
- When you send a link to your subscriber base requesting reviews, be sure to only include the short link. (ex. https://www.amazon.com/Summer-Squall-Sarah-Jones/dp/1620063131) This is the link for one of Sunbury Press’ titles. If there is extra in the URL bar after this, ignore it and only send this part of the link. The rest is time stamps and extra information that could muddy the waters and cause suspicion on Amazon’s part. Be sure and test all links before you recommend them.
Other Review Services
There are multiple services out there for authors to get reviews. Some are free and some cost money. Some work and others don’t. We recommend you start with NetGalley, your subscriber list and Amazon, and Goodreads, along with the back matter in your book. But if you find a great new service that works for you, great. Please share your success with us and we’ll recommend to our other authors.
Authors should shoot for 30 to 50 reviews for each of their books. It might take you a year to get them, but the quest for reviews should never end.
There is often a misconception in writer’s circles (and minds) regarding the publishing business. I’d like to address this and hopefully get you excited about your success in publishing.
Everyone hears about J.K. Rowling’s, Tom Clancy’s or Michelle Obama’s book deals. Every writer dreams of being the next Elizabeth Gilbert, Stephen King or Malcolm Gladwell. The truth is, these big-name authors are less than 1% of authors worldwide and the chances of you breaking into that elite group are slim to none. I am not here to burst your bubble or steal your dreams, miracles do happen. But for the sake of this article, let’s consider the rest of us writers who love it, and work at it, but may never reach that pinnacle.
The exact numbers are hard to come by, but it is no exaggeration that over a million books are published every year. Some are good and go unnoticed. Some are bad and should remain unnoticed. Traditional large to medium-sized publishers will evaluate your manuscript on a whole host of factors, but they really boil down to two main points.
- Is the writing/story any good? When the acquisitions editor looks through submissions, they will look for typos, common writing errors and plot holes. They will also hope to be intrigued. But you must understand that publishers get thousands of submissions (again no exaggeration), and they are tasked with finding the gems in that hay pile (apologies for mixing metaphors). So, if you give them a reason on page one to reject your manuscript, you will get the ‘Dear John/Jane’ letter. I know this seems basic, but at least 80% of all submissions to Sunbury Press are rejected because of page 1. This is why large publishers will only accept manuscripts from agents. It guarantees they aren’t wasting time.
- Does the writer have a platform of any kind? Do they have a website, an email list, are they comfortable with speaking, have they written a book before? Evidence of a platform tells the publisher that the writer understands the difficulty in selling books in today’s market (remember: 1+ million books a year). The larger the publisher, the higher the platform ‘bar.’
So, what happens if the writing is good, but the platform is ‘eh?’ A medium-sized publisher might take a chance. But, even then, most will give you three months to make the sales goal (they don’t always tell you what that is). If you don’t make it, they drop you. Meaning no more time and effort will go into your book. They have moved on. They have to. If they don’t sell books, they don’t make money – actually, no one does, including the author. It’s a tough market and they have to find others that can sell books.
Marketing efforts vary wildly from publisher to publisher. Some will take care of distribution, but marketing is the author’s job. Some will spend some marketing dollars to see how it goes, watching to see if the investment is going to pay off. Others spend a ton, but only for that top 1% of authors.
Fiction writers think this doesn’t pertain to them, only non-fiction writers need a platform, right? Nope. Fiction writers might want to stay behind their keyboards and just write stories, but if they are unwilling to get out there and talk about their book, chances are, even if they get one book published, they’ll have a hard time with number two.
Sunbury Press takes a slightly different approach to all of this. Oh, we still sort through a lot of bad submissions looking for gems. AND, we also are looking for writers who have a platform and are able and willing to help sell their books, but we also publish a lot of new authors. We are looking for partners. We’ll edit, distribute and invest in marketing, hoping that you will be out there talking about, reading and selling your book too. We won’t give you a three-month window. We take the long-view and hope that sales continue for at least a year or more. Our bar is lower, but our expectations are not. If we see authors who are unwilling to help sell their books, we can’t continue to invest. On the flip side, those writer-partners who are actively working to expand their platform and readership, you’ll find us happy to help with manpower, information, training and marketing investments that make sense.
As Sunbury Press grows and expands, you’ll find us even more committed to finding those gems and partnering with authors who are ready to join us in that growth!
First things first. You have to think of subscribers as people who may or may not be your ideal readers. They may have just subscribed on a whim. Or they just don’t have time now; life happened, and they are no longer interested in what your book is about. The point is, subscribers come and go. It’s okay. Don’t get wigged out when you get a bunch of unsubscribes after each email. If they leave, they were never going to be a fan and definitely not a superfan. http://sunburypress.com/finding-your-fans-they-do-exist/
So, now that we have that established, you should be sending way more emails than you have been. Most authors send one email quarterly. If you are trying to create a relationship with someone, how are you going to do that with only one communication quarterly? And the only way you are going to find fans is to create relationships. That means you have to put yourself out there. And I’m not talking about sending a sales announcement or promotional email every week. You should be writing a blog – an authentic offering of your thoughts and ideas that aligns with your book and for which others can identify.
Email marketing remains the most cost-effective, successful method of marketing to date. So, use it, always be building your list, and let it be a living, breathing part of your strategy and your life as a professional writer.
So please send emails. Send an email a week. Sound like too much? Then you have to make it interesting! Remember you are building your list with your ideal readers, so write about what they are interested in. Those that love your book will also love inside information, character buildouts, recipes the characters would eat, insights into locations, or anything else that relates. Nonfiction should be easy. If you wrote a how-to, you should have a YouTube channel with projects and examples and interviews.
But what about Fiction? Write about characters, build connections between fiction and the real world. If your novel is high fantasy, talk about what it takes to write something like that. What is your inspiration? How did it feel to write something so long? How did you balance your work life and your writing? If you wrote about baseball, send emails about that sport, there is no end to material available. If you wrote a historical novel, then talk about the real-life events that inspired the novel. Truly as a writer, you should have endless material that is available to talk and write about.
All of this content should be in your blog. This gives it a place to build up and be available for future readers and for SEO search engines to find. Then send it in email. Link to it on social media and include a graphic. Then link it everywhere else you can find. Email lists are gold and if you can build an active and engaged list of subscribers up to 10,000, then guaranteed, you’ll be hitting that 1000 fans mark and you’ll be a happy author. So, if you are a writer, and your email list is under 1000 subscribers, you know what to do.
What to use? You will need an email marketing service. I wrote about this in Fundamentals of Book Marketing, but if you search online, you’ll find plenty of options. If something is confusing or you don’t feel confident, keep looking or find some help! I know I recommend finding some help often in these documents, but this is important. Before you pay some marketing person or a publicist a lot of money, find a tech-savvy, twenty-something to help you out. Because until you have your website and email campaigns running really smoothly, the rest doesn’t matter.
Whatever email client you use, whether it is Gmail or Yahoo or MS Outlook, create a custom signature that shows up at the bottom of each email you send out. In that signature, be sure to include an image of your book (s) and a link to your website.
Beta readers are those people you know (or in some cases pay) who are willing to read through your book and give you honest feedback. As a writer myself, I know it is very difficult to be objective about my own work. Writers often cannot see the forest for the trees. beta readers can help you see the forest more clearly.
I find there are two places in the writing process where beta readers can be the most useful.
- Once you have written the book, done all your own edits and spell checks, and are nearly ready to submit it to a publisher. This is a great time to have a beta reader or two read through the manuscript before you send it in. They can help you identify holes in the plot, shifts in POV that may be confusing, tense shifts, pacing problems, continuity issues (i.e. the bedroom doorway was on the right and now it’s on the left.), and can generally tell you if you hit the target, or at least came close.
- The second-best opportunity for beta readers is the proof stage. This means that the book is laid out in book form, all of the edits are in (from all editors) and after you okay it, it goes into print. When the book is laid out in this format, it is easier to spot errors, missing commas, quotation marks or dropping an “s” making “she” a “he” (this happens). Sometimes, other continuity errors pop up that were missed. Believe it or not, there are few books that have no errors whatsoever. Even with 10 rounds of edits, which if you count all your edits. a book often has been through, still, things can slip through. So, take an extra week, choose your best, fastest beta reader and let them review it one final time with fresh eyes. Final beta reader(s) should be new, meaning they have not read the manuscript before.
Scan your group of family and friends for those who are willing and have the time to provide this service. If you have no one, it might be a good idea to expand the search to acquaintances. Some writers prefer to pay for the service, needing and expecting more objective feedback. Some feel too vulnerable for that. Find what works for you, but it is ALWAYS a good idea to have fresh eyes help you make your books better. In some cases, it could be the difference between getting published or not.
To all those beta readers out there, on behalf of all us writers, THANK YOU!
Each Social Media platform is different. You have to choose the ones that you are most comfortable with and, most importantly, where your ideal readers are hanging out.
Start with one or two and add on, as you adjust to the amount of time needed to create and schedule posts. In the beginning, it might take longer than you think, but as you get rolling, you won’t find it so daunting.
Social Media is not where you sell your books. It is where you make connections. On Social Media you post information about your blogs, content in your books, and tidbits that your ideal readers will find interesting. Spend time on each platform getting to know what users expect and like. Then plan out your strategy. But don’t try to sell. Create relationships, let the audience, followers, fans, etc. get to know you and your work. Send them to your website and your newsletter signup to learn more. You don’t actually send your resume out to get a job, you send it to get an interview. At the interview, you sell yourself for the job. Social Media is much the same way. You have to find out if you’re the right match first.
Here is a brief overview of each:
- Largest Social Media platform with an older demographic.
- It’s always changing and getting on other’s newsfeeds is almost impossible unless you know them already.
- Ads can be effective, but you need a strategy and there is a good bit of trial and error to find what works.
- To get started, set up a professional page for promoting your book(s). You can also setup a personal page as an author.
- Ideas: contests and giveaways, live Q&As with an interviewer. Like/follow other pages like yours. Use video and animation to get attention.
- Has a younger demographic and is more graphic intensive.
- You can’t link in your posts, so you have to use hashtags (#). You can put your website link in your bio.
- If you are into graphics and understand hashtags, Instagram might work well, especially if your book’s ideal reader is younger.
- Ideas: Plan a series of images ahead of time and schedule to post them over time. Include world settings, people, places, and any topical info from your book. Use words in memes. Research hashtags.
- Hugely popular.
- The more people you follow, the faster the newsfeed rolls, so if you don’t post often, chances are, people will miss your tweet.
- Posts are limited to 280 characters
- Plan on short and frequent posts.
- Ideas: Share blurb about and from in your book. Create your own hashtags. Stay relevant with your audience.
Pinterest is another graphic intensive social platform that is primarily female. Pinterest is about lifestyle, so think book genres and worlds for fiction or how-to for nonfiction. You can create boards and pin relevant content about your books. You should also post your cover and link to your website. Be sure to remember keywords in your posts so Pinterest can match up your pins with others like it. Create a graphic and Pin all your blogs. Pinterest also has advertising opportunities that are worth checking into.
YouTube may soon pass all other social media with an estimated 2 billion users a day. This is where you post interviews, your book trailers, and any other fun or informative videos. You can also post audio files here with a cool graphic. Create your own channel and post videos of others’ work, industry information or anything that your ideal audience will find engaging. Be sure to use the tags and keywords and embed those videos into your website or at least link to them. Vimeo is another option but isn’t as large as YouTube.
Goodreads and Amazon
Both of these platforms have social opportunities. Post on them often, your readers are here, be sure to invite them to visit your website and get to know you better.
For professionals and B2B (business to business). LinkedIn benefits are limited for authors, but you should have “Author” and your books listed in your bio.
This is a brief overview and each platform can require research and patience. Once you decide on the platforms you intend to use, search online for strategies and tips for authors. You’ll find plenty more insights and suggestions. Watch the Sunbury Press blog for more information coming soon.
The keys to Social Media are to consider your ideal reader and where they are, start small, create a plan, post often and refrain from selling. Also, be sure to link back to your website and newsletter signup.
Here is a great place to find out which demographics are hanging out on which social media sites: https://khoros.com/resources/social-media-demographics-guide
Remember to keep at it. Relationships take time.
Book publicity is using the media to spread the word about a book and/or author hoping for a story, article, or interview. This gives you visibility and hopefully boosts your book sales. There are a few things to think about when pitching the media on behalf of your book.
For both fiction and non-fiction, the following rules apply, however, there are some additional notes about fiction at the end. Don’t underestimate the time required to promote your book. Hitting an editor at the perfect time takes research and a good bit of luck. Follow these general rules when reaching out to the media.
It’s about you
Book publicity is much more about the author than the book. Remember you are the expert. Besides, no one can interview a book. If needed, educate yourself and practice how to give a good interview.
In the blog post, Turning Pro, Chris Fenwick wrote it’s those who are confident who are successful, not the other way around. That is as much true in publicity pitching as anywhere. Remember editors and producers are always in search of new material. They have to fill their pages and airwaves with stories, it might as well be yours. Don’t approach them with your hat in your hand, pleading for a little love. You’re an expert, you know your stuff. You have a great story and you can talk about it. That is exactly what they need and want. It should be a win-win exchange. Even if you don’t get an immediate yes, don’t take it personally. Chances are, it was a scheduling conflict. Keep at it and be patient. That ‘no’ could turn into a ‘yes’ at any time.
Know Your Audience
Who are your ideal readers? You should have this answer down. If you don’t, please don’t start pitching to the media. Stop. Go back and figure it out. If you know for sure who your ideal readers are, then you can research the publications and broadcast media they frequent. This is extremely important. Don’t make broad strokes with your pitching brush. Get out the fine-point pen and focus only on those media outlets that cater to your ideal readers. Do the research.
When you reach out, address a specific editor or producer by name and it doesn’t hurt to read their past stories. This shows you took the time to investigate their work and can speak to how it matches with your story. Sunbury Press and Cision can help with this step.
A media pitch is communication via letter, or more often an email, that states how you and your book would be a perfect fit for their show or publication. It should be short and direct but also persuasive. That means you have to put those writing chops to work and deliver the best pitch you can tailor to their media outlet or schedule. Put your best foot forward. Some authors don’t like to blow their own horn, but this is not the place to be shy. If you can’t bring yourself to write good copy for a media pitch, get someone to help you.
Another book published is not news. Another self-help, another novel, another memoire isn’t news. In a world of the thirty-second news-cycle, the competition can be brutal. You have to find an angle that is unique and in-fact newsworthy. What is your angle, what is your niche, what is your differentiator, what makes you and your book stand out? If there isn’t something newsworthy in your book, then hold off on pitching the media until an opportunity presents itself. Sometimes a current event or story will pop up in the news that directly relates to your book. That is the moment to pitch. Watch for keywords and phrases that link to your work. For more on fiction’s newsworthiness, see below. Be patient and persistent and don’t give up. When you do land a spot, you’ll be glad you stuck with it.
Since fiction is made up, (fake news aside) it’s inherently not newsworthy. That makes pitching fiction much more difficult unless of course, you are JK Rowling or Michelle Obama. But since you’re not, you’ll have to be more creative.
What is your book based on? If it’s historical fiction, then to the right media outlet, there is probably a pitch in there. If your murder-mystery is based on an Indian reservation and you did a ton of research about the lack of fair representation for native American’s, then you have a pitch in there. Or, if you read The Hobbit twenty times in a year studying Tolkien’s secrets to writing high fantasy, you might have a pitch there. Or, if your YA story is about teen bullying, a pitch is likely in there.
Make a list of every possible angle you can think of. Why and how did you come up with the story? What was your motivation? Who or what did you research to create the backstory? What part of your own experiences did you draw from? What people, places or things stand out as key elements?
Now think about the media outlets on your list of potentials. How do they match up? Look for correlations and crossovers. Sometimes small-town press gets picked up in larger media outlets. You never know. Don’t expect overnight success or a spot on the nightly news, but don’t give up. Pace yourself, have fun and be creative. You never know what might turn up.
Hiring a publicist to assist with your author publicity can be very expensive. Sunbury Press has an in-house publicist using the Cision platform that can reach the 3,000,000+ persons in the media. Every week, we are selecting the best books and authors to promote at that time. We will reach out to you if and when that happens. Be ready with your list of story angles and publications/outlets listed above. But, don’t let not making the weekly publicity list stop you from trying on your own!
Sunbury Press does not create author websites, nor do we advise on hosting companies, platforms, or designers. We also do not provide technical support for any author websites. However, there are a couple of options listed that new authors can try if they wish.
Having a website is the single most important marketing tool you will own. Don’t skip this!
- *URL – this is your website address. It is the link that goes at the top of an Internet browser (Chrome, Edge, Safari, Firefox). For instance, yourName.com, You can also get www.yourbook.com or www.yourbookseriesname.com. You do not have to have multiple URLs or websites. The most important one is your name, pseudonym or pen name as a web address (URL). If you only plan to write one book – ever, then you can use the book title as the URL. But, most writers at least dream of writing more books, so I recommend you go ahead and begin the branding process and get your name as a URL, or some variation thereof. (i.e. www.writerjohnsmith.com)
- *Hosting and design – this is essentially renting space on the internet. The URL is the address and the hosting is where your website is built. If you need easy and free, you can use Wix.com or Weebly.com. WordPress is another option. If you are not comfortable with technology, get help! Be sure your website looks good and works on mobile devices.
- *Homepage – this is the first page that comes up on your website. It should have easy navigation to all the other pages, be on brand (your own style and genre). It should showcase your latest book, and always, always have a link to sign up for your newsletter and links to purchase. Don’t make visitors search for these. I recommend you put your newsletter signup in a footer that appears on every page. If you have a logo, or signature look, be sure it at the top of the page.
- *About – This page is about you. Include an expanded biography, any personal information you are not afraid to share and an author photo. You should NOT list your cell or address and you might not even want to list your personal email address, but at least link to your twitter or your contact page. If you’ve done interviews, and don’t have a separate media page, you can include them here.
- *Contact page – This page should include a form that allows visitors to get in touch with you. This is scary for some, but authors need to begin a conversation with their audience. Using the form, readers and others who want your attention can write to you. This gives them a way to communicate back to you (conversation) without giving them your personal contact information. Also include on this page, information for the press (if you don’t have a separate media page), links to purchase books for individuals and bookstores, and all social links. Anyone who has a question should be able to find direction on this page. Don’t forget the ever-present Newsletter signup link or form! (For Bookstore orders: “Bookstores can order from Sunbury Press directly at a 40% discount or can order through Ingram. Info at: http://sunburypress.com/wholesale/ )
- *Books – On this page, you highlight all your books. If you only have one, then you have lots of space. If you have multiple, then make sure your latest book is at the top, include the cover images, descriptions, great reviews, and links to purchase on Sunbury Press, and on Amazon. Also, list that it is available at most bookstores, simply request that they order it from Sunbury Press. Again, don’t make people go search for how to order your book, if they find your website, make sure there are clear links to purchase. Additionally, don’t be afraid to ask for a review. If you have any videos include them. Here is a good book trailer example: https://www.adrienneyoungbooks.com/sitd
“Available wherever books are sold.” Include Sunbury Press link, B&N link, and Amazon link.
- *Social Share – This page gives readers who loved your book and what to recommend it to their friends online a quick and easy way to do so. Sunbury Press author, JC Gatlin has a good example: http://jcgatlin.com/share-hangman
- Press Page – this is the page the press will go to if they are interested in an interview. If you are strictly a fiction writer, you don’t have to create this page, but you can if you see a need. Non-fiction writers should always have it. It is also a direct link you can send to reporters, reviewers, hosts, and bloggers so they have the information they need in one easy (printable) location. I would put the information on this page and also create a pdf that can be downloaded. Include:
- Your name
- Your headshot
- Your short biography
- Your book description
- Any great reviews
- A few sample interview questions
- Your contact information
- Your latest press releases
- *Blog – I highly recommend you write at least a monthly blog that adds content to your site and gives you content for your monthly newsletter. Remember write about things that will interest your ideal readers. Every time you release a new book, you should be writing blogs about the characters, settings, time periods and anything else that could be of interest. When you are about to release a new book, begin writing teasers to build interest. There will be another article later offering more blog ideas.
- Events – if you are doing a book tour or have a bunch of events lined up, you can create a separate page for these. If you don’t have too many, you can include this information on your contact page and/or your bio page. Don’t be afraid to repeat some information.
- FAQ – If you have a body of work around a genre, you might be getting the same questions again and again from your readers. To help, create a FAQ (frequently asked questions) page. Simply write out the questions and answers for all to see.
If you get this all up and running, you’re off to a great start. The bullets above with the *, should be the minimum. We’ll put out more examples as we find them, but for now, this should get you moving forward.
A few comprehensive sites: