When I self-published my historical novel, SHANGHAI LEGACY, many things I did to promote it WERE very successful. In fact, I’ve sold many books, spoken many places, and continue to. But my bottom line – both in time and money – does not completely reflect that (yet!). Here is what I would NOT have done.
#1 Time and MoneyWaster: Sending Out Many Review Copies
Most how-to books that recommend sending out copies to the media do not speak to a self-publisher’s realistic situation. Places like the New York Times probably didn’t even open my package; they get trucks of books everyday.
BETTER: Research venues that are relevant to your book. Send them your dynamite press release with a stamped self-addressed postcard for them to request a copy. Even more time- and money-saving: e-mail a short query to well-chosen publications.
#2 Time & Money Waster: Paying to Have Your Book Displayed at Expos
I joined PMA-online, the Independent Publishers Association, which offers some helpful services and tutorials. But showing my book at the big book expos in America, London, and kFrankfurt did me no good.Entering the Frankfurt Expo, particularly – which features non-fiction – was useless for my novel.
HAVING SAID THIS: the 1-year joining fee, $109, DID pay off in one way. I entered their 2007 Benjamin Franklin Awards (it did cost money) and my book was a finalist. I now feature this fact on my website and any ads or releases.
#3 Time & Money Waster: a Fancy, “Flash” Format Website
Having a website is a definite plus. BUT…he flash format, though gorgeous – it moves and spins – unfortunately registers only as an image. That means it does NOT register as words and phrases. So, people surfing for information on my subject will not be drawn to my website.
BETTER: Do a conventional site. It can be one page. If you’re a techy, make your own. Otherwise, hire someone. Beware: quotes can be in the $1000’s. Mine has been re-done: http://www.shanghailegacy.com. Visit me!
#4 Time & Money Waster: Buying an Ad in a Weekly Newspaper
Since my historical novel is about the 20,000 Jews who fled the Nazis to Shanghai during WWII, I chose a Jewish weekly. Though they had never reviewed it, I thought having a “presenceî there was important. However, a small ad in a paper that gets thrown out quickly is a waste.
BETTER: A cover postcard of your book with blurbs to be handed out wherever you are. I’ve done it on the subways and buses.
#5 Time & Money Waster: Hiring the Wrong Editor
Your completed book, edited and re-written umpteen times, does not need an editor to restructure or change the tense. It needs to be edited for consistency and proper spelling. (Should a compound word be one word? Two words? Hyphenated? Your computer’s spell-checker will not tell you.)
You should also be aware that not every person advertising their services online as an “editor” is really a professional editor.
Yes, marketing your book is a lot of work. But so was writing your book. Promoting it wisely is worth it!
Marion Cuba is a writer living in New York City. She speaks and appears in and around the surrounding area. Shanghai Legacy, a paperback, has a Reading Guide, making it perfect for book clubs. Visit her on her website http://www.shanghailegacy.com.