Can We Talk?
How do authors promote their works today?
Rely on the publisher for promotion?
With the exception of the first in this list, the others have one thing in common. They cost money. Let’s face it. The publishing industry is changing. The downturn in our economy is a mixed blessing. People are looking for escape from reality and are turnign to books. BUT, they are not buying Christian speculative fiction. Sales are down. Publishers taking chances on this sub-genre are getting hurt by these poor sales. The entire discussion of why the Christian Publishing industry is so bad at promoting this kind of work is way beyond the scope of a simple blog post.
My second book, “The 12th Demon: Mark of the Wolf Dragon” launched in October, 2012 and I have tried all of these ways of promotion. Let me share what has been successful and what hasn’t.
My publisher. Charisma Media has been very bold and took a huge chance with the Realms imprint. But, it would seem that the economic downturn and the difficulty of promoting Christian speculative fiction may have taken its toll. We shall see if sales are sufficient to keep Realms alive. The publisher helps out with social media promotion but, as with most publishers today, leaves most of the promotion up to the author.
Advertise? I bought a few internet banners on some specific websites. These banners showed up from November through December. I’m not sure how well they worked. This is the problem. How do you gauge how well such an advertisement works? Will the website give you statistics? So far, I just don’t know how well Internet ads work. I put a local ad in a “Family & Faith” magazine for my book launch. But, that launch suffered as I mentioned below by several factors.
Book Launch. When I launched my first book, “The 13th Demon” in October, 2011 I held a book launch party at my local church’s coffee shop/book store. It was a huge success. I moved over 100 books that night. I advertised in a local magazine and I gave away some donated prizes such as a Nook, a Kindle, and an iPad2. This year, I followed the same strategy and it did not work as well. Why? First, the Friday night I chose also had competing events such as a huge concert featuring a country singer and a very popular high school football game between two famous rivals. And, one of my friends jokingly posted on Facebook that the event had been cancelled so that friend would have a better chance of winning one of the prizes. People took the post seriously and did not show up! I ended up moving about 45 books. Not bad, but not as good as the first book launch. Factor in my cost of advertising, paying for free coffee and snacks, and subsidizing some of the prizes myself and I lost a lot of money. But, I did get some good publicity.
Book Signings. I was blessed to have three book signings during this campaign, one in Orlando, Florida; one in Austin, Texas; and one in my home town LifeWay Store. It is very difficult to get a LifeWay Bookstore book signing, but being a B&H Publishing author helped. The Orlando book signing was a success and I moved about 40 books. The Austin book signing less of a success and I moved about 24 books. The local book signing was a rousing success and I moved more books than I did at my book launch. It helped that the event was the first Saturday after the New Year and people were coming in for huge after Christmas sales.
Book tours. I did not hold a book tour for this second book. I held a tour for the first book and featured signings at several venues including book stores. For the cost of traveling, I did not move sufficient books.
Publicist. So, I hired a publicist. Big chance. Lots of money. Since the first of November, I have given almost 30 radio talk show interviews. Most of these stations are big names and have huge area coverage. The first part of my campaign featured the pitch, “What is so Cool about the Undead?” as my second book features vampires, werewolves, and zombies. I had a blast! I was able to always turn the conversation around to my book and I was able to use my apologetic training to talk about changes in our culture. The second phase of our campaign started a week ago. New pitch: “Do Video Killing Games Cause Violent Behavior in Teenagers?” Man, did that get the radio talk shows buzzing! I had 13 interviews just last week and I’ve got 6 more schedules in the coming two weeks. I have been invited to Dallas, Texas to be featured on a live one hour talk show in the next month. The campaign has been wildly successful. The one caveat: will it drive book sales? Will it drive listeners to my web site? That remains to be seen.
And, here is the warning to all writers. You MUST be able to speak and carry these interviews. You can’t get on the air live and “Hmmmm” and “Uhhhhh” your way through a ten minute interview. In fact, what I am learning is that in order to make a career in Christian publishing, you MUST create a platform that includes the ability to speak on subjects related to your book. To that end, I am attending Michael Hyatt’s PLATFORM conference in February. I’ll try and include details of what I learn in my next Charisma post.
In the meantime, I’m anxious to see if my sales numbers were increased by these forms of publicity. We’ll see. What do you do to promote your books?