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John M. Wills

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Promoting Your Book

PSWA Member graphicLast week I attended the Public Safety Writers Association Conference. One of the presenters was Patricia Fry, a full-time writer, speaker, consultant, editor and the author of 39 books. Patricia spoke about author promotion, emphasizing that the role falls to the author, rather than the publisher. Here are some important points to consider about book promotion:

  1. No matter which publishing option you choose, it is up to the author to promote his/her book.
  2. Your book will sell for as long as you are willing to promote it.
  3. There are hundreds of ways to promote  your book and most of them are free, but many of them do take time, thought, effort, creativity and energy.
  4. In order to successfully promote your book, you MUST know who your audience is and where they are (what they read, where they buy books, etc.)
  5. Target your marketing efforts toward your target audience.
  6. When devising your marketing plan, remember to think, “exposure, exposure, exposure.”
  7. Experiment and discover which promotional effort is most effective for you and for your particular book. Do more of that activity!
  8. Don’t give up after one disappointing promotional activity–the next book festival (presentation, book signing, etc.) might be ultra successful.
  9. Be open to new promotional ideas, but  don’t spread yourself too thin. Keep to the basics that are working.
  10. Before launching out to speak, do a book signing, etc., put out a LOT of publicity. Use all of your social media accounts, newspapers, appropriate newsletters, posters, blogs, your email list, etc.
  11. Seek out unusual, but appropriate,venues for  presentations/signings/demonstrations and to place your books for sale. Choose locations where your audience congregates, shops, etc.
  12. For fiction–do home parties and let guests help act out a scene–bring costumes/props.

    This is just the tip of the iceberg. Use your imagination and get creative in planning your own marketing plan–always keeping your audience/readers in mind. Patricia’s, “Promote Your Book, Over 250 Proven, Low-Cost (mostly free) Tips and Techniques for the Enterprising Author” has hundreds more ideas for both fiction    and nonfiction authors.

Try A Novella

Nightstand Cover low resI’ve had conversations with fellow writers who tell me they dream of writing a book. However, some of these aspiring novelists always seem to have a reason why they have yet to realize their dream. They insist their wonderful, unique storyline is sure to be widely accepted,  but then moan that the task of writing a book is just too demanding. Is that a valid excuse? I guess it might be. On the other hand, writing a book might also be a wonderful cathartic exercise.

In lieu of writing a 300 – 400 page novel, might I suggest writing a novella? It has many of the characteristics of a novel, yet lacks some of the structure and requirements. A novella is basically a long short story. If you research novellas, you will find varying opinions regarding what length they should be. The most common answer is probably somewhere around 20,000 words.

The novella is an interesting piece of literature because it doesn’t seem to fit well in conventional publishing mediums—magazines and books. It’s too long to be included in some online publications, yet it’s too short to be deemed appropriate for print.

Nevertheless, a novella is a great way for a writer to develop characters and plots. It’s also a good way to flesh out a writing portfolio. While there are no chapters in novellas, there can be distinct breaks to divide sections. Novellas contain protagonists and antagonists, conflicts, and more than enough space to fully develop settings.

So, where is the market for this type of writing? Some publishers may consider a novella as a print piece or ebook. However, Amazon recently introduced “Kindle singles” in their online store that specializes in standalone works like novellas. Writers follow simple instructions to upload their work and, voila, a best seller may be born.

I took a test drive at the Amazon Kindle store and created my own anthology, “The Nightstand Collection.” It’s a collection of my short stories and poetry. The process of self-publishing was straightforward and easy to understand. Amazon even provides a video demonstrating the steps involved in an easy to understand tutorial.

My recommendation? Don’t be afraid to experiment. If you’re reluctant to commit to a novel, try the novella. If you have success with writing a novella, you may have discovered your writing niche. Or . . . the novella may just be the springboard that launches your book career.

 

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