Wicked Wednesday: Pre-Release Promotion

IMG_2145It’s Wednesday. Let’s talk craft today. So your book is coming out in three months, or two weeks, or tomorrow. Wickeds, what your pre-release strategy do you find most successful in getting the word out about your book? Have you ever poured a lot of time/money/energy into a strategy that bombed? Do any of us hire independent publicists to help?

Edith: I know I’m old-fashioned, but I really like a paper calendar. Here’s the page for October with my next release marked on it. I also have a Word calendar with my scheduled guest blog posts entered. So far this is all I got CountryStoreblogschedfor the weeks surrounding the release. I feel like I’m slipping!

Liz: Wow, Edith, if only I could be that organized…I try to remember to book an “official” launch party in advance. But I definitely do a lot of guest blogs. My last two books I did a book tour through Escape With Dollycas, which was a lot of fun and definitely exposure to different audiences.

Jessie: One of my favorite pre-release ways to spread the word is to host giveaways on Goodreads. It is a simple way to create awareness of a new release and people seem to enjoy participating.

Edith: Ah, yes. The first Goodreads giveaway for Flipped for Murder just ended, so I’ll be mailing out five Advance Review Copies (ARCs) this week. 1323 entered. Not sure if that’s high or not, but it’s better than my previous giveaways.

IMG_4434Sherry: I have tried several different things. Four days before the launch of The Longest Yard Sale I celebrated Sarah Wintson’s birthday by throwing a party on Facebook. The Wickeds all donated books and I gave away copies of my books. It was a lot of fun and not too much work. I send out advance copies to bloggers and reviewers and also do a very small blog tour. I’m very lucky to have a friend, Mary Titone, who acts as my publicist. She sends out press releases and contacts groups for appearances. She works really hard and gets paid in breakfasts and lunches.

Barb: My next launch is a bittersweet one, the last Level Best anthology to be produced by the current editorial team, of which I am a member. To celebrate, we got photos taken. What do you think?

levelbestjoking2Untitledreddawnweregone2For the real results, see our ad for the New England Crime Bake program here. Another pre-release strategy.

Edith: You guys look great – all those tropical colors that match the pool!

Julie: I am taking notes! Release day is October 6, my first, so I am learning from all of you!

Readers: What do you do to prepare for the launch of something new and big? Writers, any tricks you can share?

43 Thoughts

  1. Good morning Wickeds
    Release date for Look Both Ways is October 27 so I’ve been contacting cozy-type blogs and having Kensington send ARCs. I’ve pretty much left other re-pub stuff up to the Kensington publicity people. I didn’t know there was so much I could do myself–like the Goodreads giveaway. Kensington did it for Caught Dead Handed (Book 1) but not for Tails You Lose (Book 2). Do you do the selection of winner, mailing of giveaway books yourself? Dru Love has been great. Also Karen at A Cup of Tea and a Cozy Mystery. Any suggestions for a sort of new Mystery writer, sort of old writer in general? I’m working on Book 4 and by the time it comes out maybe I’ll know more about self-promotion!

    1. Great points, Carol. And congratulations on your release! Setting up a Goodreads giveaway is easy. You decide how many ARCs you want to give away, they randomly select the winner(s) and notify you of the names and addresses, and you send out the copies. I sent out my five yesterday.

      Agree about Dru Ann Love! A great promoter. I’ll have to check out A Cup of Tea and a Cozy Mystery. There are also several cozy mystery groups on facebook you can search for, and several are fans only and love to hear about new releases and giveaways. Good luck!

      1. Thanks. I’ll do the Goodreads thing. I’ve never done bookmarks, pens or any of that swag stuff. Do the Wickeds do it? Does it do any good? I’ve got that New England thrift gene going on and those things cost money.

      2. It’s hard for any of us to know what does any good, Carol. We all do bookmarks, and we have a Wicked Cozy Authors bookmark, too. Various of us do various kinds of swag, and you’re right, costs can add up. Always good to have something to hand out. I’m getting to the point where I need to do what Sheila Connolly does (read further down for some of her comments) – have one bookmark with all her series on it.

  2. I clicked on the link that Barbara Ross provided. Now I have a slew of books for my list. I’m never sure if that is good or bad.

  3. Reader here- what’s an ARC? What about bookbub? I can downoad books cheaply and try new authors. A way to reach a new audience perhaps. Love your books and blog!

    1. An ARC is an Advance Review Copy, Joan, and it’s the uncorrected proof copy that the publisher binds with the cover on it (I’ll expand the acronym in the post – thanks for the prod! We sometimes forget not everybody knows what we know about the biz). BookBub is a great resource, but they are selective and expensive. I was lucky that my publisher put up one of my books there last spring and it got a big bump in sales. Glad you like my stories and this group!

  4. I’m glad I made time to read this today. My debut is in three months (Dec. 1st) and I have NO IDEA what I’m doing. I have a couple of guest blogs lined up, but that’s it. *hangs head in shame* I’d better get to work!

  5. My cozy mystery is coming out in November, so I really enjoyed reading this! Thanks for the Goodreads tip. I’m having a couple of contests on FB after Labor Day and I have a few blog appearances schedules. Penguin/InterMix is releasing my book as E-book only for now, so I don’t have the advantage of ARCs, unfortunately! My main character is a bakery owner, so I thought about having a local bakery host my book release and give away binded excerpts, like the first two chapters.

  6. Since I’ve been around the track a few times with 25 books or so, it’s pretty much a routine. Blog posts, on the blogs I’m part of plus those set up by Berkley publicity (3-4); newsletter to my mailing list announcing new book; Facebook posts; hoping to get on panels at conferences (luckily, Bouchercon is the week my next book comes out). I try not to hit people over the head with “buy my book!” messages every time they turn around, so it’s kind of a juggling act. BTW, out of all the books that Berkley has published for me, I think I’ve received ARCs maybe three times, randomly, so that’s never been part of the strategy.

  7. One thing I do that no one’s mentioned: I sent either postcards (to people I have snail mail addresses to) or emails to everyone on my mailing list a few days after my book is published. (I want to be reasonably sure it’s in bookstores when they get the cards or messages.) This year, because Labor Day is so late, and a lot of people are away from home on vacation, I’ll be sending about 3500 postcards and 1500 emails out next week. (I include cards to, e.g. needlework shops across the country for my Mainely Needlepoint series, or antique print dealers for my Shadows Antique Print series; school librarians for my children’s books.)

    1. Which reminds me–a few years ago I tried sending emails to libraries across Massachusetts, for the Orchard Mysteries. There are email lists available to the public, but the problem was, there was so much turnover that either the names or the email addresses were often obsolete. I’m not sure the right people ever saw or paid attention to the email (which of course had pretty eye-catching pictures). Lea, do you think antique print dealers buy your books? I could see needlepoint people and librarians being interested.

      1. I don’t know for sure, Sheila! I know some antique dealers who know me buy my books, and I know, for example, that the Philadelphia Print Shop has mentioned my books on their blog. I think it’s part of that old marketing truism … only 10% of marketing works. The problem is, we don’t know which 10% it is!

      2. Hey, I knew those guys, back in my Historical Society days. I said hi when the Antiques Road Show was in Boston. Then there was the infamous Graham Arader…

      3. 🙂 That’s part of the print world for sure, Sheila! And, Edith — yup. A lot of expense. There are several places that print postcards for reasonable sums, but the stamps — 39 cents each — are what get to me. I’m off to get 500 more today for next week’s mailing …. (And I used to address the cards by hand. Then I took a week or two and put everything in a data base. A lot easier for mailing .. and for corrections once stacks of those postcards are returned because people’ve moved.)

    2. That’s a LOT of postcards, Lea! A big expense, both the printing and the postage. How in the world do you even address 3500 postcards,even with preprinted stickers?

      Yes, I do send out an author newsletter but it’s usually before the release date (well, the way my release dates are going, I guess it’s both before AND after).

  8. Interesting to read what all authors think about when launching a book.

    As a reader, I have to second Sheila about all promo all the time. If all an author posts is about their book, I get turned off. However, no one I’ve seen on this post today comes close to falling into that camp. They get the mix of promo and the rest of life just right.

    1. New authors often confuse marketing with selling. The idea isn’t to close the deal, it’s to make sure people who might be interested (including regular readers) know you have a new book out. That “Buy my book! Buy my book!” gets old quick.

  9. Has anyone here done a Facebook launch party? Where do you start with the organization of it?

    My “official” book launch date for DEADLY OCCUPATION is 12 October. I think I’ll have the book available for sale at Bouchercon 2015. I’m in the Author Speed Dating and Librarians’ Tea events. I’ll also be at the SinC breakfast. Is this enough visibility to sell one or two copies at this massive event? 🙂

    I’ve sent 20 e-ARCs to reviewers who have enjoyed my previous books, and 16 of those reviewers are standing by to post reviews on Amazon as soon as they can. Some will also stump for the book on their blogs and social media.

    Subscribers of my e-newsletter will get a free ebook copy of DEADLY OCCUPATION. It’s my thanks to them. Some have been reading the quarterly e-newsletter since I started sending it out back in 2011.

    Mid-October, I’ve arranged a short (4 – 6 stops) blog tour. The first week of November, I’ve arranged a short (4 – 6 stops) in-person tour. Total number of stops will be firmed up by the time of Bouchercon.

    Whew. I sure do wish I’d had an office assistant to help me. I started making phone calls and sending emails back in June, and I’m still following up.

      1. Yes! Corporate life spoiled me, too … an assistant and a IT department (maybe one guy who knew what he or she was doing???!) Someone to update the website, schedule appearances and guest blog, make reservations, update mailing lists … and stamp postcards!

      2. Oh, gosh yes, Barbara. I wouldn’t even need big money for that. I’d have a part-time assistant.

      1. Sherry, it looks like you did everything directly on your FB author page, rather than creating a separate FB event page for it. Where did you announce this event before 25 June, to be sure that people showed up for it?

  10. For the newbie author promoting her first book, would you be wiling to mention how you built your mailing list beyond “friends and family?” And…do you think mailing post cards is a hold-over from before the internet? Or do you think book readers are more print oriented? Do you just like getting printed items (I do!)? Or do you think that post cards are still really useful? Why?

    1. I have mixed feelings about postcards. I make them for my series, so people can see the order, and for each new book as it comes out. But I don’t mail them, I hand them out at events. I keep postcards that I pick up from other writers, and they do remind me of a book I am interested in, months or even years later. I receive only a handful in the mail each year. So the answer is “yes and no.” (Yes, I like them, which is why I have boxes full.)

      As for mailing lists–those you build over time. If you blog and you get permission from each person who posts, you can collect those, but some people object. You can ask people to sign up at conferences or signings. I think it’s a good policy to let people know you’re harvesting their names. And even some mystery organizations don’t like it or permit it.

    2. Mary, you can hold a contest (like for a signed ARC or book, or naming rights to a character, or some object related to your stories that you are willing to mail), where the condition of entering is to sign up for your newsletter. Have a newsletter signup option on your web site and facebook page. At any event you hold or participate in, have a clipboard (or tablet) out for people to sign up for your newsletter.

      I just got postcards printed for my next two books to come out, but I’m going to give them away, not mail them. It’s very useful to have something to put on the Free table at conferences, and to tuck into giveaway copies, and to hand to people buying your books. Some authors who write foodie mysteries print recipes on their postcards.

    3. Yes — all of the above! I started sending postcards before people had email lists … and I don’t have email addresses for all my friends/fans. Plus .. some people DO like them — use them as bookmarks (I have those too, for some of my books) and post them on refrigerators, etc. I also give out a lot, as others have said. The biggest disadvantage of email lists: people change their email more often then they do their home addresses. I collects names all the ways people have mentioned, including having a sing-up list when I do talks, do a book signing, etc. And on my website I invite people to send me their names/addresses. It does add up after a while. (Disclaimer: My 15th book was just published. And I know authors who have over 10,000 names on their mailing lists ….)

      1. Typically, around 35% or so of your e-mails will be opened. Those are considered excellent numbers in the direct mail biz, but many of the others will go direct to people’s spam.

        Most of the postcards will get delivered, but since they’re not online, people have to go multiple steps from postcard to order, not just click on a link. So it’s a trade-off.

        No matter how you pay for your e-mail blast, it will be cheaper than postcards. I strongly recommend using a mail program like Mail Chimp or Constant Contact (which is pricey, though I love it) and managing your e-mail addresses out of their database. One advantage is that a mail system will offer a quick and safe unsubscribe option for your readers.

        With your first book, by all means let all those old work friends and distant family know. They’ll be happier for you than you think.

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