Wednesday, June 17, 2020

Strategies for Promoting a Book ~ Part 2

Book promotion is a serious topic for all authors, and if it isn't, it should be!  Last week five of the authors featured in the 2020 Insecure Writer's Support Group anthology Voyagers:  The Third Ghost shared some great strategies for promoting books.  They were joined by L. Diane Wolfe, senior editor and owner of Dancing Lemur Press, L.L.C. and its imprint Freedom Fox Press which published Voyagers.  Today we'll hear from the other authors and from IWSG founder and author Alex J. Cavanaugh.

Book Promotion Strategies ...

Rebecca M. Douglass
"A World of Trouble"

Promotion Strategies
My most successful promotions have been blog tours, organized by Great Escapes tours. They specialize in cozy mysteries, so it’s a great fit for reaching my audience out in the cyber-world. My other favorite promotions have been school appearances for my middle grade fiction, because not only do the kids get very enthusiastic about reading the books, but I just really enjoy visiting classes and talking about writing with them. 

I’m certain there is much to be done with social media, but I consistently fail to do it, so I might not be a great person to come to for advice!

Rebecca is the author of the delightful Ninja Librarian books, as well as a picture book for outdoor families, a mystery series for the parents, and her middle-grade fantasy, Halitor the Hero.  After more than seventeen years working at the library, she has retired still without learning all the secrets of the Ninja Librarian.

Bish Denham
"The Blind Ship"

How Not to Promote A Book
Strategies for Promoting a Book? What strategies? I, personally, am very bad about this end of the writing business. I don’t know if it’s because I’m an introvert and don’t like putting myself out in public or if its because I’m lazy, or busy with life (which is, at the moment, a huge distraction.) That said, my only way of promoting is using blogger for book tours and Facebook. Other than that, I’m not your best source for inspirational ideas on how to promote. In fact, I hope to learn something from everyone else’s suggestions.

Bish Denham is from the U.S. Virgin Islands, where her family has lived for over a hundred years. The author of two middle grade novels and a collection of retold Jamaican Anansi stories, she says, “Growing up in the islands was like living inside a history book.”

Charles Kowalski
"Simon Grey and the Yamamba"

Promotion Strategies
One marketing strategy I used without knowing its name was W. Chan Kim and Renee Mauborgne's "Blue Ocean" strategy.  Their advice would be, "Instead of a red ocean, where the sharks are in a feeding frenzy, look for an as-yet-unexplored blue ocean."  In other words, rather than competing for a finite customer base, try to expand that base by seeking out "non-customers" - people who might not ordinarily think of buying your product, but could be persuaded to give it a In my case, the “red ocean” was the crowded middle-grade fantasy market, and the “blue ocean” was people with an interest in yokai (the Japanese mythical creatures that populate Simon Grey’s world) and Japanese culture in general. Some of the “fishing” techniques I used included:
     ·Joining and contributing to yokai-themed social media groups. (These groups aren’t the place for overt self-promotion, but they can be useful for oblique test-marketing, asking questions like “Which yokai would you like to see featured in a story?” to pique interest and give contributors a sense of investment.)
     ·Writing articles about yokai lore on my author blog, and posting the link on online interest groups.
     ·Holding storytelling sessions about Japanese ghosts and monsters.
     ·Contacting schools with Japanese language programs, booksellers specializing in manga, and public libraries that host manga and anime conventions.
     ·Connecting with Japan-America friendship societies and Japan-themed events and exhibits. (When the art museum in Sydney, Australia, announced an upcoming exhibit on yokai, I sent a postcard to the gift shop suggesting my book as a tie-in. They ordered ten hardcovers.)
One major obstacle is that, since I live across the globe from most of my potential readership, my ability to make in-person appearances has always been limited, and COVID-19 has rendered it impossible. I hope that will change soon. For now, I’ll keep fishing in my “blue ocean,” and wish you a good catch in yours!

Charles Kowalski has published the full story of Simon, Oyuki and their adventures through haunted Japan in Simon Grey and the March of a Hundred Ghosts.  In addition to to middle-grade fantasy, Charles' thrillers for adults, Mind Virus and The Devil’s Son, have won prizes and nominations including the Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers' Colorado Gold Award, the Killer Nashville Silver Falchion Award, and the Adventure Writers Grandmaster Award.

Katharina Gerlach
"Winter Days"

Promotion Strategy 
I'm not very good at marketing (yet). The one thing that works really well for me though is face to face interaction. Therefore I'm trying to visit as many book fairs and cons as my time allows. Somehow readers connect well with an author telling them all the things that excited them about a writing project. I understand that this tip is hard for introverts, but try to see it as customer services. You're actually doing your potential reader a favor if you tell them about your books, and they appreciate it. Also, a fair/con usually takes a day or two at most, so you can withdraw into your writing abode soon enough. Give it a try (start small). I'm sure you'll be surprised.

Although Katharina Gerlach was born in the late sixties, she’s still a child at heart. She inherited her love of fairy tales and words from her mother, an ex-secretary and avid reader, and her love of all things nature and science from her father, an ex-forester. Memories of her rather interesting life in Germany flow back at the smallest trigger, even though she tends to merge her three brothers into one when she tells stories about their childhood adventures. And more often than not, she recalls events truthfully.

Roland Clarke
"Feathered Fire"

Promotion Strategies
My book promotion experiences have been instructive – although minimal. Maybe others can learn from my mistakes.

I attempted Facebook launches for my debut novel Spiral of Hooves, and those had limited results.  I had a few great five star reviews from close colleagues, but that did not result in increased sales.  I will admit to taking a low-budget approach and expecting my extensive network of equestrian colleagues to read the book and respond. Considering how many people encouraged me to finish and supplied facts, few of those even bought books. So, never depend on so-called friends or colleagues. Don’t try and be cheap.

Covid-19 has added to my difficulties, although health issues have curtailed
my getting about for years and have made a live online online presence impossible.  Perhaps a lot comes down to effort and perseverance, so for my WIP,  Fevered Fuse – Book 1 in my Snowdon Shadow series –  I'm working on another angle, a graphic promotion.

I approached Jonathan Temples, the cover illustrator for Spiral Hooves, and asked him to create a concept image for Fevered Fuse.  His graphic echoes a scene in the novel and illustrates the two main characters Sparkle Anwyl and Kama Pillai.  This is the first step on an intriguing road.  Perhaps it will encourage readers to open the pages and read on.  Maybe it will lead to a comic book character or a graphic novel for my series.  If you have any ideas about where we can go from here, Sparkle and Kama need your input, please!

Graphics by Jonathan Temples 

After diverse careers, Roland Clarke was an equestrian journalist and green activist when chronic illness hastened retirement.  But he hasn't stopped exploring rabbit holes and writing - mainly mysteries and alternative history. You can read more about Roland's book Spiral Hooves at his website Writing Wings, and his book is available on Amazon.

Alex J. Cavanaugh
a.k.a. the Ninja Captain

Promotion Strategy
I think the best strategy is to be the best book promoter yourself. Help others spread the word – on your blog, on Twitter, etc. Buy their books. By supporting others, people remember that, so when it comes time to promote your own book, they will reciprocate. Then you will have a whole army helping you. So, be a giver.

All of us in the Insecure Writer's Support Group know and appreciate its founder Alex J. Cavanaugh, a.k.a. the Ninja Captain.  He is a fan of all things science fiction, and his interests range from books and movies to music and games.  Alex has a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree and works in web design, graphics, and technical editing.  Alex is the author of Amazon bestsellers CassaStar, CassaFire, CassaStorm, and Dragon of the Stars. 

This year's Insecure Writer's Support Group anthology contest is open.
If you are an IWSG member in any of its Blogging, Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter groups, you are eligible to submit an entry. 

Here are the submission guidelines and rules:
Word count: 4500-6000

Genre: Science Fiction

Theme: Dark Matter

Submissions accepted: May 6 - September 2, 2020

How to enter:
Send your polished, formatted (double-spaced, no footers or headers), previously unpublished story to admin @ before the deadline passes. Please include your full contact details, your social links, and if you are part of the Blogging, Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter IWSG group.

The IWSG admins will create a shortlist of the best stories. The shortlist will then be sent to our official judges:  Dan Koboldt, Lynda R. Young, Colleen Oefelein, Damien Larkin, Ion Newcombe, Julie Gwinn, and David Powers King.

The winning stories will be edited and published by Dancing Lemur Press
imprint Freedom Fox Press next year in the IWSG anthology. Authors will
receive royalties on books sold, both print and eBook. The top story will
have the honor of giving the anthology its title. Please see their website for
general guidelines on the types of stories they publish.

Coming on Wednesday, June 24, 2020 . . .
Next week our blog post participants will share favorite online resources beyond The Insecure Writer's Support Group.

Till next time ~
Fundy Blue 

Reviews of Voyagers: The Third Ghost:

1. Check out lots of reviews and ratings at Goodreads and Amazon.

2. Roland Clarke's Bookshelf Review at his website Writing Wings features Voyagers:  
The Third Ghost.

3. Erin Kahn at The Wood Between the Worlds

Interviews with Authors:

1. Yvonne Ventresca with Stacy Horan at The Bookshop at the End of the Internet

2.  Sherry Ellis with June McCrary Jacobs at Reading, Writing & Stitch-Metic 

3. Roland Clarke with Laura Wolfe at The Sustainable Writer

Blog Features:

1. Voyager Authors with Mason Canyon at Thoughts in Progress (Part 1)

2. Voyager Authors with Mason Canyon at Thoughts in Progress (Part 2)


1. May and June - Stormdance Publications

2. At various times - IWSG Instagram

* * * * * * * * * *

You can order a copy of
VOYAGERS: The Third Ghost 
at the links below.

Print 9781939844729 $13.95
EBook 9781939844736 $4.99

Juvenile Fiction - Historical / Action & Adventure /
Fantasy & Magic


Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Wow, Charles really has it together when it comes to promoting a book.

Fundy Blue said...

That was my thought too! And the red ocean/blue ocean analogy was awesome. I'm learning so much through all of this. Diane also has all things books really together. Her webinars were hugely informative. I wish I had known all I know now a year ago. Me ~ I'm still trying to get a signature line on my gmails. I'll make it work eventually. I've learned that dogged persistence can overcome technology snafus. Have a great day my friend!

Sherry Ellis said...

I like Charles' way of thinking outside of the box about the audience. Once you've identified other groups who might be interested in your book, the next trick is to go out and connect with them.

Alex, your advice to help others is great. Yes, when you help promote others, they are more willing to help promote you.

L. Diane Wolfe said...

Customer service - I love it.

Louise, I'm glad you learned so much.

Fundy Blue said...

Alex is a champion at promoting the books of IWSG members! What he has done is impossible to quantify, but it is very much appreciated!

Fundy Blue said...

Thanks, Diane! I'll get there with the promotion.

Roland Clarke said...

For me, Charles strategy has me hooked, so I'm off fishing in whatever “blue ocean” seems to be shark free. Basking sharks don't bite?

Alex adds a great reminder of the importance of helping fellow authors - just as he does.

Fundy Blue said...

Alex certainly walks the talk, Roland. I, too, am searching for a little blue water. As Fundy Blue, I should be able to find some ~ LOL

Roland Clarke said...

LOL names are everything.

Fundy Blue said...

Diane recommended in her first webinar on book promotion that we all need a brand. I have to go with Fundy Blue ~ After all these years I'm branded!

Rebecca M. Douglass said...

Looks like most of us are struggling with promotion--big surprise :) Now I'm wondering what my blue ocean is, and how to access it.

Fundy Blue said...

Hi, Rebecca! It's so good to see you back. I think of you often and send a prayer and hug your way frequently. Yes, promotion is a challenge. So much to do and learn. All the best to you!

Katharina Gerlach said...

Marketing is one of the hardest concepts to grasp (at least for me) because all I want to do is write and publish stories. But since I need to make at least some money off it, I won't get off the hook. Charles' approach sounds good so I'll give it a try and see if it works.

Fundy Blue said...

I think a lot of us struggle with marketing, Katharina. Good luck as you work on it!

Bish Denham said...

I'm going to learn something. I'm so bad at this promoting stuff.

Fundy Blue said...

Join the club, Bish! You are not alone!