Nathan Bransford, Author

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

What Are Some Great Ideas for Promoting Books?

Some people have noted in the comments section of yesterday's post that with the promise of Vanguard Press' marketing budget comes a big question: what makes for a great marketing plan?

My favorite book story promotion was when Po Bronson sold shares in his debut novel BOMBARDIERS, which was about stock brokers -- it was clever, it was the perfect tie-in and it attracted a great deal of attention.

I think everyone is wondering how books rise above all the noise out there and generate buzz through marketing. What are your favorite marketing plans, tips and tricks?


Kat said...

My novel is about a rock star, and I've been involved in bands off and on for the past 10 years. In addition to getting my novel out there, I'm working with a group of musicians to create -- for lack of a better word -- a soundtrack to accompany it.

I don't know if it's going to be a great idea for promoting or not, although I've received e-mails from total strangers curious about the story after I posted one of the music videos on YouTube. It's definitely something different.

On a somewhat related note, I'm curious to see what will happen with the Rock 'N' Read festival going on at the Virgin Megastore in Hollywood on the 13th.

Rock 'n' roll and's like heaven on earth.

Eric said...


That's a great idea. In fact, I was just thinking the other day that book soundtracks could be something that would add value to multi-media e-readers.

Adaora A. said...

I think people should spread the word online - blogs, facebook, myspace - because they work. It creates word of mouth (or er...e-mouth? e-eyes?). Something about it gets attention. I think a lot of people rely on e-news more then anything these days. If you can generate hype there (or somehow, on a major syndicated talk show of some sort - the likes of Ellen, Oprah etc - then you're definetly good).

Online book give aways are great too. Hell, online anything. I won $250 dollars for 'predicting the Oscar winners' a few years back and now I always read the Star, more then I ever used to (being more of a serial Chapters stalker). Now I read every morning.

Kat said...


Thanks. I never quite know how to interpret the strange looks I get when I tell people I'm working on a soundtrack for a book.

Eric said...

My most recent work concerns a teen who is in the habit of graffiti tagging his nickname. I was thinking that ads in public spaces, such as posters in the subway, could be vandalized with real graffiti art to catch the eye.

Anonymous said...

I think John Kennedy Toole set the book-marketing-ploy bar perrritty high, when he asphyxiated himself in his car before the publication of "A Confederacy Of Dunces", allowing the book to be flogged as "the single master work of a tragic doomed genius yada yada yada; and glomming it a posthumous pity-Pulitzer. You can't buy that kinda publicity. Now the concept is played, though, and I'll have to keep on sending Candy-grams to Steadman. Damn! dylan

Edward Hancock II said...

a subtle but effective (and not all that expensive) way to publicize your book is to invest in bookmarks. When you go out to eat, leave one with the tip. People remember you when you come back and you'd be suprised how many of them will actually buy your book. Even if they don't look like a reader, never judge a "book" by its cover. Leave a bookmark. Even if they don't want it, they could give it to someone else with the understanding that the book might be something THEY would like. Yeah, they can simply through the bookmark away and I'm sure some do, but I leave them everywhere I go and, more often than not, when I return to that place, folks remember me.

I live 3 hours from Dallas. Every October, I take my son to the Ripley's Believe it or Not wax museum for their Halloween display.... in 2006, my book had just come out. I left some bookmarks on the table in the snack bar. When I returned in 2007, one of them asked me "hey, aren't you the writer guy?" And pulled out my bookmark...

Nothing like being remembered.

Eric said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Edward Hancock II said...

*...THROW the bookmark away. Sorry.
Got a little post happy.

Eric said...

Perhaps I should clarify that the only posters to be "vandalized" are for the book.

Jenny said...

For nonfiction: Build a web site rich in content that relates to the subject you intend to write about. Put in years interacting on discussion groups that cover your topic. Stay out of flame wars and stick to giving helpful information.

Write a really useful, information dense book rather than the kind of all hook/no content stuff that the big publishers put out.

Send it to the top bloggers (columnists in the old days) in your field for review.

That strategy has sold a lot of books for me and is working very well for my new book, Blood Sugar 101: What They Don't Tell You about Diabetes.

Anonymous said...

It depends on the book, but I think internet games, contests, and viral marketing are all great ways to get people to interested in a book. Why not combine all three and make an alternate reality game (google it if you don't know what this is)?

Gwen said...

I can only answer concerning YA lit, because that is the stuff I follow.

The biggest marketing things right now are online. Authors run contests, games, etc. from their blogs to get readers excited. Winning free copies of a book to winning other merchandise (tshirts, anyone?)... a little competition never hurt!

Also, authors have been posting videos of themselves talking about the book, or agreeing to answer reader questions in a youtube video, etc. Maureen Johnson and Libba bray have been doing hilarious videos together concerning their latest releases, SUITE SCARLETT and THE SWEET FAR THING.

On websites, authors have their designers work little clues into the layout, so that if you follow the clues, you can unlock some secret knowledge - snippets from an upcoming book, allusions to future conflicts, etc.

Having a "book soundtrack" is a big thing right now as well - authors posting songs that inspired them while writing, and readers posting songs that remind them of the book.

Readers are also making their own two- or three-minute promo videos for books, if the authors do not do it first. This is my favourite marketing ploy, because it puts audio and visual stimulation together to make you beg for more!

Gawain said...

My last book (which still hasn't sold) was a young adult fantasy about a kid who's half Tomb Raider and half Jason Bourne. I thought it would be cool to tour schools and hand out personalized spy gadgets, like micro tools or LED flashlights. Unfortunately no takers on that book, and the ideas don't carry over so well to my other stuff. Maybe some day...

The bookmarks and posters type stuff seems to work well.

JES said...

What they've done with the TV show "Lost," I think, would be pretty cool for promoting a novel: register a domain and create a Web site devoted to some business enterprise (like Oceanic Airlines) featured in the book.

(I've anticipated this by doing it for my still-not-finished novel. Nothing like lunatic optimism!)

Tom Burchfield said...

One idea that just popped into my gi-normous brain: my book is set in a particularly scenic area of the Eastern Sierras; though fictionalized,I adapt several actual locations, including an excellent resort. With that in mind, I might make a tie-in deal with the resort where they'd offer discounts to tourists who come in with a copy of my novel . . or buy one on the premises (which has a bookstore).

Avrinell said...

I think nathan could leave a good post about what kind of publicity works. After all he is the agent with his own clients. What tricks do your clients use that has worked well or should i say the best, for them?

Anonymous said...

There's only 2 kinds of promotion as far as I'm concenred: I want national tv ads and I want theose chain stores paid and paid well to keep my books on the end-tables.

Keep the advance. Spare me the silly "book tour" where I get shuttled about the country on commuter jets to sell about a dozen books.

Publishers: Just take all the money you ever thought about in connection with me, and spend it on chain-store end-table space and national tv ads. Everything else is small-time and I can do it myself )ie web), anyway.

Anonymous said...

How about have the publisher pay you an obscene amount of money for an advance, so it's commented on in all the publishing blogs, etc... It turns into a self-fulfilling prophecy -- this book is good and worthy of buying. Front table placement in bookstores, books in STOCK, and industry buzz (books at ALA and Book Expo) can push, push, push that baby to sell, yes?

In other words, you can do all the postcards you want, but if the publisher isn't behind your book in a big way it's awful hard to break out. Lead titles get lots of promotion, others far less. It's not a question so much of if one book is "better" than the other, but which book had that push.

Nick Travers said...

I agree with Jenny. This should work for fiction as well as non-fiction, but it requires a lot of work and takes years to build a fan base.

I like the idea of a virtual tour of blog reviewers too.

The danger is that grabbing the headlines with a gimicky marketing idea becomes everything, and content and good writing takes a back seat.


K.C. Shaw said...

A descriptive, interesting title and a really good cover that stands out from the books around it. Seriously. When I browse through the fantasy section at the book store, I don't look at books that don't stand out. I figure they'll be carbon copies of all the other dragon-and-girl-with-sword cover books.

And if you have a cool title and excellent cover art, the next step is awesome T-shirts and bumper stickers. Bands have been doing that for years and it works. Why not books too?

Oh, and book trailers? They should resemble movie trailers. I don't care about seeing the author talk about the book. I want to see clips of action from the book so I can decide if it sounds interesting enough to read.

sbarret said...

Book trailers are a double-edged sword for promos. If you or your publisher pays to have a good professional one done, they work for me (as a reader). On the flip side, I can usually tell when an author has done it him/herself and frankly, all of the ones I've seen have been embarrassing. At the end of the video, I think - if the author's story is as bad as this trailer, I'll never want to read it!"

Seriously, video is a different medium, and just because a person can write, doesn't mean she can create a compelling video.

Yat-Yee said...

Great question, Nathan, and excellent ideas from everyone. I'm particularly drawn to the idea of including music, and I also love the one about giving out spy gear.

My novel has lots of music in it, and I have been thinking I should include some of it on my blog. (And I see others are using YouTube, which has given me some ideas as well.)

My protag plays percussion, I've been checking out some places that sell drumsticks in bulk because I thought it would be cool to give away drumsticks. Hmm I wonder if anyone make miniature ones that can be turned into key rings or pins...

pjd said...

There's only 2 kinds of promotion as far as I'm concenred: I want national tv ads and I want theose chain stores paid and paid well to keep my books on the end-tables.

Thanks for the laugh.

That's a bit like saying, "There's only one kind of hotel room: the one on the top floor!" If all travelers had that attitude, then all hotels would be single-story buildings.

I've always assumed that most book promotion relies on good old Thomas Edison perseverance and dogged legwork. Visit bookstores, libraries, and other places where likely readers congregate (e.g. new-mother clubs, elementary schools, skate parks, football stadia... whatever fits the book). Similar guidelines for online visits.

The gimmicks are great if you can find one that really resonates. I like the graffiti on the book posters idea. Sounds very current.

Lorelei Armstrong said...

My mystery novel (Iota Publishing, Oct. 1, 2008) has some virtual-world storyline to it, so I joined Second Life and have rented a shop on Book Island in-world to promote the book. I have one object with the cover art on it that, when clicked, gives the person the first 1,000 words of the book (the first scene). Other objects lead to the Amazon page, my website, the publisher's website, and give out information about me and my avatar.

As it happens, in the year since I've joined SL I have also started several businesses and earned more than $3,500, but that's another story.

danceluvr said...

Since my WIP concerns young ballet students, I would definitely target both dance studios and dance supply stores.

I wonder if I could also shoot a brief video of a young couple dancing and post it on YouTube. That would be fun, if nothing else.

Just_Me said...

Honestly, as a buyer I can't think of any marketing that works to get my attention except shelf space. I don't watch TV, I don't read most magazines, I'm not a big fan of radio, and I don't go to the movies so all those traditional venues are gone.

The only way I find new books is looking on the shelves or reading a blog by the author or agent. Sometimes a review blog will mention a good book and I'll buy it, but 90% of the books I read I've picked because they looked interesting on the shelf.

I guess for the sci-fi genre computer marketing is going to be the big thing. Oprah doesn't have any power with my target audience, but Youtube, Deviantart, and Elfwood do. I already have a blog up, it's not about any one book but about writing in general and editing trama, and I've met people through that. Eventually I could see myself maintaining a blog or website for my books specifically so I can interact with my readers.

Um.... yeah.... this is why I'm not in the marketing division of any company. No new ideas.

Kristin Laughtin said...

Not having had to do any of this yet, I can only speculate about what sort of advertising would attract me. Word-of-mouth is extremely powerful, as is anything on the internet. Ads on websites are good, but if a book/author has a really nice website, especially an interactive one, it makes me interested. The more I can play with it, the better. (Someone mentioned the website for Lost--great example. I also thought of JK Rowlings' website and all the little promotions she did--games and the like--in anticipation of each new Harry Potter book.) Things to put on Youtube, soundtracks, etc, are also great.

I also like the idea of bookmarks or other small promotional items. Can you imagine how powerful it could be if you could convince bookstores to give a bookmark promoting your work to each customer? A lot of people might just throw them away, but it could help burn the name into their brains. (I got a number of bookmarks like this at ALA this weekend, and it made me want to check out a number of the books they were promoting.)

Nikki Duncan said...

As a currently unpublished author who wants to know the answer to this very question, I've taken it upon myself to keep an eye on the market, pay attention when published and multi-published authors talk, and take notes. I've also helped a few successful authors with some of their promo work.

Of everything that we've worked on together, I don't think any one thing has been the secret to success. Instead, I think it was the combination of it all. The most successful one, an author had a book coming out but knew her publisher wasn't behind her the way she wanted them to be.

So, she took it upon herself to print a ton of excerpt booklets. She had them at RWA, at RT, she put them in anything/everything she sent out, she sent them to bookstores to give to their customers, she had other authors include them in things they sent get the idea.

She also put together a list of booksellers, the people who are responsible for getting more of a particular book in their store, and sent them ARCs of her book. This was a bit costly because she had to print the ARCs herself and get them professionally bound, but it put her book in the hands of bookstore managers. Those people read the books, got excited about it, and took it upon themselves to order additional stock for their stores...more books on the shelf, more books sold.

She had a book video made, printed bookmarks, rack cards, postcards, and had blog/website contests. She scheduled onlin chats to talk about the book, and took it upon herself to get revews for the book.

She did book signings and though they are not her favorite thing in the world, they do sell books, it gives people the chance to reach out to her readers, and helps create word of mouth, which many authors claim is the best thing of all.

All of it together had the book bypassing her expectations as well as her publisher's. It also spurred sales for her previous book and the success of that book has led to a buzz for another connected book as well as a few more sales to publishers.

So, like everything else in the publishing business, I don't think this is an easy answer, but anything that gets your name and your book's name out is better than doing nothin.

Anonymous said...

Dear Mr. Bransford:

My wonderful book is about a drunk trying to get by in today's weak economy on a wallet stuck in 1980

So I thought that setting up racks of my book at the head of every alley where winos go to drink and talk over the old days, chiefly Da Nam, solve the world's problems and the like, would be a swell idea. And placing them in all Brown Derby's in town as well as in pool halls would work fine too.

Perhaps even setting up a book stall in the better crack houses would be another thought.

At the entrance to your local Wal-Mart is another fine idea.

What do you think? I will appreciate any and all thoughts that folks want to share with me on this idea, one which I put a gtood deal of though into, and think is brilliant.

Thanking y'all in advance, your writerly friend, Sad Slugs McGee.

Born to self-publish,

A Paperback Writer said...

Kat, I like it! Would you put the CD in the back of the book?
Edward, I like the bookmarks, too.
Gwen, I've heard about the youtube "comercials," but since I'm still cursed with dial-up, I've never seen any of them.... It has occurred to me, though, that I'd let my own students do youtube videos to advertize my book-- because then they'd tell all their friends to see the videos, and I'd get more publicity....
KC, as my background is in silkscreening, I'd thought of doing t-shirts, too. Hey, I'd buy a tee shirt with my favorite book on it! Why not? I've bought tees with plays advertized on them.
And since I'm a school teacher and have been a performer all my life, I'd LOVE doing school stops and anything in front of an audience. I already know I can hold an audience's attention, so I'd be happy to hook them into wanting to buy my book that way.
Great. My promotion's all planned out. Now all I have to do is convince an agent and a publisher that they're in love with my book.... Sure. Not a problem.

Sarah Pinneo said...

Nathan-- I LOVE Bombardiers. Love. It is the best novel of Wall Street ever.

My book that was published last year is ski-related, and I did many signings at Ski resorts. My publicist was thrilled because I set them all up myself, of course. But ski mountains aren't used to giving signings-- and so they all said "sure, why not?"

That got us some good exposure right in the heart of ski country.

Phoenix said...

Thanks for asking about great promo ideas, Nathan! Can't pass up this promo op to tell about our new online promo op.

One week a month, a group of writers hosts and roasts a group of authors and their books. There are contests, prizes and laughs aplenty. We're gearing up for July's roster starting July 21; meanwhile June's roastees are still marinating on the site. Come by if you get the chance!

Book Roast

Serving up authors and books lightly grilled and seasoned with humor

nancorbett said...

A YA novel about five precocious, pregnant teenagers living under the same roof... The possibilities for poster and cover art and strategic places to place it are endless.

Chumplet said...

Oh, God, I wish I knew.

Hopefully, my e-book Bad Ice will be in print by winter, which will be appropriate for a hockey romance. Perhaps I should have a signing at a women's hockey tournament.

Instead of bookmarks, I'll make hockey cards with my book's vital statistics (blurb, page count, publisher, availability).

My publisher had a great idea - make hockey puck shaped cakes with my title on them in icing and take a plate of them to bookstores.

Chumplet said...

Oh, yeah... I'll be roasted on July 24th at Book Roast. Watch the ice melt!

jwhit said...

Kat, the use of sound tracks on audio books is of course a natural. Assuming you haven't sold yet, you might find having the music ready a bonus for a sale.

As for promo/marketing, must be in the water. On another email group there was discussion of this. There are professionals charging like $250-$300 for 'doing' blogtours of new books. If these people do know what they're doing and can target the right blogs, this makes sense to me, given the recent survey about how people decide to buy a book: personal recommendation. Blogs have a specific following [witness Nathan's], where people get to know and trust each other. So having a blog tour adds a personal touch that would be quite different from ads or bookstore promotions [very commercial approach and possibly suspect]. I think people are craving personal contact and blog tours by authors provide that.

Betty Atkins Dominguez said...

Sharon Zukowski gave out bookmarks and sold lots of books. She also said that having a last name like hers put her at a disadvantage.

Betty Atkins Dominguez said...

You know, I am so out of the loop on this blog. My ms is about the Texas Panhandle in 1911, seen through the eyes of one family. Still, I enjoy this blog and hope I don't put my foot in my mouth too often.

Yat-Yee said...

jwhit: can you expand on blogtours? Is it when different bloggers talk about how they like your book? And would an author send ARC's to these bloggers?

akaqueenie said...

Zachary Mason sent out his book "The Lost Books of the Odyssey" to five reviewers in mini wooden Trojan horses - not only are the horses beautiful, but very memorable. the NYTimes just blogged about it the other day, and the LATimes reviewed the book in their Sunday edition.

Polenth said...

I'm a fan of online promotion, because it makes me buy books. One of the great things is it sticks around, so it carries on working for you years later. It's also very cheap. As a reader, I like the first few chapters for free and blog tours. If I'm hooked by those, I'll visit the author's blog or website.

Book trailers have to be done properly. If you can't make an interesting one (and reading from a book is not interesting), then I'm not watching it.

Mary said...

When 'The Law of Love' by Laura Esquivel was first published in hardback in the UK (8 or 9 years ago?), it included a CD soundtrack. Someone gave me a copy as a present. No doubt the novelty value increased sales. :)

Anonymous said...

what is an ARC?

superwench83 said...

An ARC is an advanced reader copy.

An idea I had for my book: Most of it is set in 1869 San Francisco Chinatown, so I thought it would be cool to give out fortune cookies at signings. Special fortune cookies where instead of the papers reading, "You will receive a long-awaited blessing," they would have review blurbs about the book or something like that. Whether or not that's a doable idea or not, I don't know. I'm not at that point yet, so we'll see!

Anonymous said...

For all the thoughts posted and the time it would take to do them, I'd rather write another book.

I still think no one really breaks out of the mid-list without a big publisher push, which has nothing to do with bookmarks, postcards, cake, or book signings where four people show up, three being friends.

Maybe I'm cynical? Does anyone else feel this way?

Josephine Damian said...

To quote from a sit-down I had with Donald Maass: "It's what's between the covers that sells books, nothing more." Write a great book, your books will sell.

Innovate, have a fresh plot with unique characters, and sales will follow.

He was quite disdainful of book marks/postcards as promotional tools.

MySpace? Blogging? Don't even ask! He thinks those are a huge waste time-wise and promotionally.

Whirlochre said...

I'm going with a coupla months drinking that stuff bodybuilders use to pack on the pounds, another week at the tattooist, then a day basking on a nudist beach in St Tropez with my credentials rippling from my cellulite like the unignorable squeals of a beached whale pup.

Erik said...

Here's an idea:

Write one that's really, really good, and don't expect a whole bunch of sales at once but instead wait patiently for word of mouth.

What? What?

Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for this topic Nathan!

Afterwards, I would really really love to read several blog posts by you about promotion campaigns (you don't have to name name if that's too much information) that you have personally been impressed by (your own clients and/or others too).

-fly on the wall

cbl said...

Well, as someone who came out of publishing from the marketing and publicity side, I can tell you only one thing for certain about what kind of publicity works and what kind doesn't:


There's no golden rule. There's no quick fix. TV ads? Rarely sell books. Newspaper ads? They exist more or less only to placate authors and agents with large egos. Book reviews? Good or bad, they don't sell books. Book tours? These can be an enormous success (300-500 people at an event with an 80% sell-through) or a an expensive letdown (four people sitting uncomfortably in folding chairs while an author reads from his or her book). I've had authors experience both kinds of events on tour - often on the very SAME tour.

You can't point to one thing and say "This works!" Because inevitably, it will work for only one very specific book.

Social networking? Online viral marketing? Great if your target audience is under the age of 40 and computer savvy. Not so great for a book geared toward retirees in suburbia, however.

Bookmarks? Fine for the authors who can afford them. Know that more than 3/4 of the bookmarks you leave behind at a bookstore event will be immediately tossed out. The same goes or buttons, flyers, brochures, and even t-shirts. Bookstores don't waste valuable POS counter-space like that for very long.

I'm not saying that there aren't good tools for promoting and marketing your book. But each book has to be looked at as a totally new project.

Publishers don't work this way; they don't have the time or manpower or money to craft the perfect publicity or marketing campaign for every book.

So authors should always go into a new publishing venture with the knowledge that he or she should be prepared to do the bulk of their own marketing and publicity.

My two cents.


Simon Haynes said...

Give away the ebook version for free.

Chumplet said...

Depending on the author's contract, he or she may only give away a limited number of e-books. In my case I'm allowed five. I gave one away in a contest on July 1, and I'll give another one away at Book Roast.

My publisher will take care of reviewers, but I might find one or two myself here in my local area.

I also plan to have my local newspaper do a story on me. They've done it with many local authors, Eve Silver being one of them. With free distribution to 250,000 readers, I'm bound to get a few sales out of that.

Marilynn Byerly said...

boWithout wide distribution for your book, most promotion is wasted effort, and distribution is the publisher's job. With the exception of a contract that includes a promotion budget, bookstore placement, etc., a genre author can do little to improve distribution.

That's not to say an author shouldn't have a good promotion plan in place when she is looking for a publisher, and she shouldn't devote serious time to promotion before and after the book is out. Any nudge to the sales numbers may mean a second book will come out, and most publishers like authors who take that extra effort to promote.

Genre authors with very successful careers write excellent, consistent books that come out on a regular basis, they have backlist in print, and they really work at promotion.

Even Nora Roberts, one of the most successful genre authors in the world, personally works hard at promotion on her own on top of what her publisher does.

Anonymous said...

Re the fortune cookies: extremely easy and cheap. I had them done for my wedding--Oakland Fortune Cookie Company. They will do all the custom fortune printing for you. Awesome. Cost less than $200 I think. And way fun.

That being said I am a veteran of trade show management and gimmicky giveaways are cool initially but always get trashed later. No one cares about pens or fliers. They toss them. Still, enough companies do them to warrant looking into it.

Anonymous said...

Happy Birthday Nathan!!! You're a gift!

Nathan Bransford said...

Thanks, Anon!

Anonymous said...

Nathan, it's your birthday???
Happy Birthday To Our FireCracker Agent!!! Yeah!

Karen Harrington said...

As a recent debut author myself (Janeology, Kunati 2008) I'd have to say MySpace has made the biggest difference in my ability to network with other writers. And from those other writers, I learned how to put together an effective website, other blogs on which to write a guest post and how to put together a virtual blog tour. The networking is so key!

Great post!

Karen Harrington

Anonymous said...

A friend of mine had a situation like this come up this week: She submitted a query to a small publisher, and the first response was, "The writing is good, but how do you plan to market the book?" She was a little shocked, to be asked such a question at this early stage of querying.

Is it normal for a publisher to ask this question after just one query? I was always told it was a little presumptuous and rude to offer marketing suggestions at the query stage. Now I'm not so sure.

Nathan Bransford said...


I think editors are increasingly expecting that authors are going to bring marketing to bear to support a novel, so no, that doesn't surprise me at all. In fact, I try and pre-empt that question by either pointing out or implying how an author will be able to attract attention to their work as I'm submitting.

Wanda B. Ontheshelves said...

If I had my druthers...and if editors are "increasing expecting" the author to have a marketing strategy of some kind...that agents, when requesting a partial + synopsis, also request a 1-page marketing plan (one little page) - that way there would be a natural place to talk about merchandising and branding (if that happens to be one of your strong points and something you're really into)...and then you don't have to embarrass yourself coming out of left field with it...out of the blue...

...just a'drutherin'

Conduit said...

Marketing has been a big topic between me and my agent even before a deal is struck. And as Nathan says, it's part of the submission package.

I raved about a new website on my blog the other day. combines a social networking site dedicated to book lovers, and an online book store. I think it's a great opportunity for authors to interact directly with readers at the point of sale, and I really hope it takes off. It's only a few months old.

And happy birthday, Nathan!

Anonymous said...

cbl--good post!

I like the ebook-for-free strategy myself, for thriller novels.

Anonymous said...

Does this mean you want a marketing line or paragraph in the query letter?

Anonymous said...

From anon @ 11:51

Thanks Nathan. Very helpful information about a slightly intimidating topic.

Lynn F.C. said...

Seth Greenland, my former UCLA Extension writing instructor, admits he promoted his book sitting in a chair in his underwear in a suit jacket and white shirt. Not only that, he made a video ” to publish online depicting a scene from his new book ”Shining City.”
He started with and advertised for actresses for book video. No problem. Then he needed a pimp and called another one of my writing instructors, Mark Haskell Smith, author of “Delicious” and “Moist,” who was working on his fourth book. He asked him if he had time to spend an afternoon with several beautiful women in a hot tub? Knowing Mark, it was a done deal and according to Seth it did not take him long to commit.
The shoot took 15 hours and editing took several days including adding background music.
Seth admits this is “serious business” if you want to sell your book. “It’s a chaotic new world and if a novelist can’t have a little fun shilling for his own book, then what, finally, is the point.”

So check it out.

kidzeppelin said...

Yes! I've been sitting here drooling over the idea of doing a soundtrack for my book yet have never heard anyone else talk about it. My book has tons of music intertwined in it, where the lyrics and mood of the song kind of serve as a silent narrator/foreshadowing tool. And of course it has sweet songs.

I was thinking of setting up a website where, if you buy the book, you get a code that you enter at the website and it lets you download the soundtrack for free. I imagine its easier said than done, as I'm sure you'd have to get the permission of all the artists and whatever, but I think it could garner a lot of attention and get people buying the book to get the music (because, as previously mentioned, the songs rock).

Julie Weathers said...


Since my book is epic fantasy and I am working on taking sword fighting lessons, perhaps something to do with ren faires and Celtic fests. Offer some support to someone who goes to a lot of these in exchange for promoting the book.

Work the conferences.

Go back and milk my contacts in the Quarter Horse journalism and horse racing industry to promote the book. Make the rounds of the horse magazines with the story.

Mention to some of my old racing fans how much fun it would be to name a racehorse after my book. Then hope the horse wins the All American.

Be a fun person people like to hang around. Word of mouth seems to be as good as anything, if not better.

Be a complete blessing to my agent and editor so they enjoy working with me and my career.

maris said...

My favorite marketing plan is my favorite marketplace: the small Jersey Shore town where I live. I develop my WIPs in blogs. My friends read along and comment, and the buzz builds through town.

BTW, about soundtracks: My "coming-of-rage" historical WIP contains a list of period music. I'm creating links for the soundtrack.

Patti Auburn said...

I'm writing a YA novel about a brother and sister who travel the world (magically) on quests. I think I'd like to have a travelogue website to go with it, so that the readers can further explore their travels.

Southern Writer said...

I'm a little behind in my blog reading, and apparently, in wishing Nathan a happy birthday. Happy belated birthday, Nathan! As for great ideas for promoting books, I have just two words: Bella Stander.

Anonymous said...

My book, 13 DAYS: THE PYTHAGORAS CONSPIRACY, is set in an oil refinery. My website contains links to fuel-saving resources and car models!

Neil Plakcy said...

I don't think anyone answered the question "What is a blog book tour?"

It's when you go around to a bunch of different blog sites and offer to write a guest blog for them. It gives them fresh content, and it gives you the chance to reach fans of other writers.

The best outcome is when you find a blog from an author whose fans will like your book, and when you write something specific to that blog.

heather simmons said...

I started thinking about marketing before I decided on the actual plot. I love suspense so I write the way I want to see things played out for me. I chose a subject that has 1.) a following 2.) conflict (it may make some angry but they're interested) and 3.) a title that appeals to the eyes for some reason
I think there are a lot of ways to kind of, (subliminally?) grab a person's attention without them realizing you're doing it. Before they know it, they're enthralled and can't turn away. It's a sneaky approach but it works wonders. :)

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