Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Stumbling in the Dark

Today I welcome Shelly Bell to Terry's Place. Shelly's debut book, A YEAR TO REMEMBER, releases today as an e-book and will be available in print this July. Here, she's sharing some of the things she learned about the other side of writing...promotion.

I love to read. To me, there’s nothing better than reading a book. From snuggling on the couch during a snowstorm to sunbathing at the pool, you’ll always find me with my Kindle.

Maybe that’s why I got a crazy notion to write a book. Only, like my book’s protagonist, Sara, I’m stumbling in the dark looking for the light switch. I’ve written my story and gotten it published. Now what?

Before I entered this industry, it never occurred to me that authors had to do anything other than write a book. I assumed the publisher took care of the advertising. Wrong! In addition to the writing and editing, an author is responsible for the marketing and publicity of the book. I’m an attorney by day. I’ve never had to ponder the ins and outs of the advertising industry. Where to begin?

I began by visiting other authors’ websites and wrote notes on their content and esthetics. A common denominator was the author blog. I’ve never paid much attention to blogs in the past. That’s all changed. Each day, I read several blogs written by authors, agents and publishers.

Once I got a handle of what I wanted for my website, I met with my friend, a web designer. He explained blogs are important because it creates content for your site. You know how you can Google your name and tons of other sites are listed before your own? The more content you have on your site, the higher your Google ranking. The idea is to create enough content that your site comes up first in a search. You want that ranking not just when it comes to your name but other key words, like the title of your book. I barely have time to keep up with my day job and my two kids. On top of everything else, I have to write blogs?

Next, I created a Facebook Page. This is different from your personal profile because the page can have its own URL and it’s not limited to a quantity of followers. I also use Twitter, which I’ve grown to love. Following authors, agents and publishers gives me so much insight into the business. I don’t use it to solely advertise my book. I may mention a contest or a release date, but I really use it to interact with others. I’ve linked my Twitter account to my Facebook account, so I only have to type it once. I’m using Networked Blogs to link my blog to my Twitter which is linked to my Facebook. That means whenever I post a blog, its automatically posted to my Twitter and Facebook.

If you want to spend money, you can advertise your book in publications such as trade magazines and on third-party websites. Contests are a great way to lure readers to your site as well. It really depends on your budget.

And don’t forget blog tours… And submitting your book for reviews…And promotional items… And banners… And interacting with authors and readers through Goodreads, BookTown, Savvy Authors, Yahoo Groups, Google Groups, and other social media sites…

And of course, word of mouth. Telling everyone you know! Don’t be shy!

Even with everything I’ve learned about publicity, marketing and advertising this year, I’m still stumbling in the dark. Hopefully, I’ll find the light switch soon.

You can purchase A YEAR TO REMEMBER at Amazon, Barnes & Noble.com, and Soulmate Publishing. Visit Shelly at her website, www.ShellyBellBooks.com, on Facebook, and on Twitter

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Meggan Connors said...

Great post, Shelly!

Before I got published, I had a vague understanding of marketing and promo, but I had no idea how time consuming it is! Twitter, Facebook, websites...it takes so much time. But I'm getting there, and finding that it's not nearly as bad as I thought it was!

Good luck with A Year to Remember, and any future projects!

Patricia said...

Good luck with your book! I know what you mean about promotion. It's all about getting yourself noticed and most of us aren't used to doing that. We want to write, not promote. And now we can't do that. We have to do WAY more than that and it doesn't come naturally to me. It's not that I hate doing it, it's just that I'd rather spend my time writing. I do enjoy reading people's blogs and being on FB but it can get very tiring.

Rose Vanden Eynden said...

Congrats on your new book, and on all of your work in promoting it. I have found it can be daunting to be a new author, but connecting with readers through social media is certainly a worthwhile pursuit!

Ann Montclair said...

Great post. Good luck with your novel and with promotion.

jeff7salter said...

Just reading all the things we, as authors, are supposed to do ... leaves me exhausted.
Time for my nap.

Anonymous said...

Wishing you lots of sales.

The promotion eats into so much writing time but is a necessary evil to get our name known out their and the good book we have written noticed.

Karen C said...

Congratulations on the release of your debut novel! Very interesting post. Is all of the work promoting, etc. something new for authors? Did the publishing houses do a lot of that in the past?

Shelly Bell said...

Meggan, Patricia, Rose, Jeff and Kendra, I spend more free time on social media than I thought possible. Instead of sleeping, I tweet. Ann, thanks for your support. Karen, I think publishers used to spend more money on promotion for their authors, but now authors are expected to do most of it themselves. With the explosion of social media, authors get the opportunity to interact directly with their readers. Publishers can't compete with that!I believe that the big publishers still spend time and money on promotion of their more established writers. It really surprised me. I thought all I'd have to do was write!