Sadly, the days of publishers sending authors on book tours, buying print ads in major newspapers and magazines, and arranging radio and TV interviews for authors are gone, long gone. Unless your name is Steven King, Julia Roberts, or J.K. Rowling, you are on your own when it comes to promoting yourself.
MY ADVICE: If you don’t like promoting yourself, don’t become and author.
If however, writing is in your soul, part of who you are, then gird up your loins, and promote yourself, because no one else will do it for you.
Here are 7 practical suggestions on how to promote yourself. And don’t say, “I can’t do this.” If that is your response, reread “My Advice” above.
1. Contact your local library and other libraries in your area and offer to speak. If your book is nonfiction, you can speak about the topic of your book; if it is novel, you can speak about the writing or publishing process, how you got the idea for your book, etc.
2. If you belong to any organizations, offer to speak to them. I did this two months ago. The Literary Society to which I belong generally promotes authors at their meetings, but since this is a literary society, I felt they ought to promote all manner of writing: novels, nonfiction, poets, and playwrights. I offered to provide a readers’ theater for their December meeting. They were happy to have the offer, and I’m delighted that I will present a 30 minute original play to local people. Hopefully someone in the audience will have ties to one of the many playhouses in the area, and I can have a staged performance of one of my plays in the future.
3. Have professional business cards and carry them with you. Keep the cards simple, use 10 or 12 point font, and stick with the basics: Name, Address, Email, phone number and website if you have one. A cluttered card, one with small fonts, or white lettering on a dark background generally are tossed because they are too hard to read.
4. Contact your local Chamber of Commerce to determine if they have a Speakers’ Bureau. If they do, let them know what topics you can speak about, writing, publishing, history, etc. Until you become famous, do this for nothing. What you want is for people to know who you are.
5. Contact a community college or local adult education program. Many of these will offer a class with you as a teacher if 6 or 7 people are interested in your topic. Be prepared to tell them your plans for a six week class. Perhaps, finding an agent, getting published, how to market your book, self publication versus traditional publishers, developing characters, etc. For this, you might be paid.
6. Find your niche market. Amy Signs, A Mother Her Deaf Daughter and their Stories, the memoir my daughter and I wrote, gave us the opportunity to speak to Deaf associations, parents groups, and the general public. If your book is nonfiction, search out groups that are interested in your topic. Visit them or send a postcard letting them know you would like to speak at a meeting.
7. Contact friends and relatives who live in distant locations. After you have exhausted groups, book stores and libraries in your area, contact your friends and family in other locations and see if they will arrange, or give you a contact name and number of people who might be interested in hearing you speak. Friends and family have hosted me in several states.
8. If you no longer live in your home town, contact the local newspaper in your hometown and offer to give them an interview. This can be done via the telephone or Skype. The smaller the town, the more likely they are to want to run a story about a local person becoming a published author. Have head shot or digital photo of you available to email to them.
Don’t be shy. As I always tell myself when I approach someone, “What is the worse thing they can say or do?” Tell me NO. But most of the time I hear “Yes.”