ASK AN AUTHOR: WRITING TIPS & GIVEAWAYS - MARKETING A NEW RELEASE

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By Sarka-Jonae Miller

July 4, 2015 (San Diego’s East County) - Ask An Author welcomes guest columnist Jonny Holt of Literati Resources, a San Diego-based company offering PR and event management. I know Jonny from several events we organized together for Barnes & Noble. Learn more about Literati Resources on Facebook, Twitter @jonnyliterati, and Instagram @LiteratiGram.

SJ's Favorite Freebies: Contemporary romance Falling For Him 1 by Jessica Gray (free through July 4,) Swimming Home by #1 best-selling author Ruth Mancini (free through July 6), and cozy mystery Rings on her Fingers by ReGina Welling (free through July 3).

Question: I have a very big, very broad question. What type of marketing (e.g., email, social, direct, etc.) do you think should take top priority when an author is marketing her newly published novel? Thanks! – Katrina Robinson

Jonny: I think the two most powerful marketing tools for either a new author or a newly published book are social media and events. Email and direct marketing, sadly, often goes unread, and in the case of direct mailers and postcards, that can be a very costly endeavor that might not yield much. The question to ask before jumping into either the social media or event marketing game, however, is what audience are you looking to reach and where can you find them?

Generating buzz for a book is about connecting with passionate, enthusiastic readers right away, and getting them to help spread the word. Like a street-team, but without the cost. Social media can be a powerful tool to put you in touch with those dedicated readerships. Everything from searching hashtags to posting in genre-themed groups can put your work in front of an already-sympathetic set of eyes and makes the “pitch” much easier. And yes, that might include offering e-books or samples to a few select people for free to get the wheel turning, but if done carefully, the results can be powerful.

Events are a different game, but with some of the same basic rules. Finding places your target audience might congregate is step one. That might be a bookstore, or it might be a historical society, a conservation group, a themed book club, a library, a café, the list goes on depending on what genre you are writing in.

But innovation is key. Readers are inundated with new books and authors clamoring for attention. Try thinking about places where people might not be expecting to find their next favorite book. And just like with social media, if you can get your voice heard by people who are willing to listen, even a single reader walking away with your book can turn into recommendations, new opportunities, and more readers!

Those two areas will help you get a solid platform and help you network into other areas, and they are both things that you can control directly – active marketing instead of passively hoping your message gets to the right people.

Sarka-Jonae: I'd say your #1 priority would be setting up your first promotion, probably a 99 cents sale. By preparing for a promo you'll have to do a lot of what is necessary for marketing a new release anyway, but a promo gets the momentum going unlike anything else.

To qualify for a advertising feature that is worthwhile as well as making your new book attractive enough for readers to take a chance, you'll need at least 20 to 30 Amazon.com reviews. That's not to say reviews on Goodreads.com or Barnes and Noble aren't good too, but places like Ereader News Today, The Midlist (free feature), and BookBub primarily look at Amazon.

You might also want to check out FK Books & Tips and BookSends, but for the cost the aforementioned places might be a better bet. Bargain Booksy (also the free feature) might also help but it should be used more as an appetizer before or after the main course. Use anywhere else at your own risk.

A great way to get reviews and start building that enthusiastic readership Jonny mentioned, I recommend creating a closed or secret Facebook group just for your top fans (check out mine). Ask your friends and family if they want to join, and gradually add people you meet at events or on social media.

Inviting people to a super exclusive, secret group that allows them to get free copies in exchange for reviews and gives them sneak peeks at upcoming material will attract the people who will help make your new book a success. Just make sure they can reviews on Amazon.com before giving them a free ebook and only offer a mobi, epub, or pdf file as these are harder to pirate than Word docs.

Your online street team can also help you spread the word about your promotion. Never sit back and let one ad do the work. Use tweet teams and post in Facebook groups about your sale, just make sure you don't break any rules or ignore best practices. I know it feels like your book is amazing and you need to push the envelope to make it a success, but there are repercussions for breaking rules that outweigh any potential gain.

Goodreads.com ads for 99 cent sales usually work well too but make sure you write several variations because if people don't click on your ads they won't get shown to a larger audience. Sometimes, it's the ad you think is the least compelling that draws the most attention.

Got questions?

Send them to Sarka-Jonae Miller through Twitter @sarkajonae, Facebook, or via her author website. Alternatively, talk to her in person at the first ever 21+ Ask An Author book chat at Bistro Sixty on Tuesday, July 7 at 5PM. Come ask questions, meet local authors, or simply enjoy happy hour. More events are listed on SJ's website.

What I'm reading now: The Messenger by Lois Lowry.

About Sarka-Jonae Miller

SJ is a local author, book marketing manager, publicist, and columnist who writes chick lit and steamy romance based in San Diego and Los Angeles. Her novels include the Between Boyfriends series and the All for You series. SJ also writes health and fitness articles for The Best Years in Life and Natural News.

Check out her Between Boyfriends blog for book reviews, author interviews, TV episode synopses, and giveaways. Follow @sarkajonae and @sjpublicity9 on Twitter for more writing tips, book recommendations, and industry news. Get health and exercise articles from @sjnews9.