Romantic Times Booklovers Convention: PROMOTION-PROMOTION-PROMOTION ~ The “Trade” Version!

I learned so much at RT this year in preparation for my fiction author debut this fall. One area I especially wanted to learn more about was how to effectively promote my books. After all, no matter who you are or who you are publishing with, today’s new authors must promote themselves. And this convention exists for that very purpose!

So I attended a panel presentation hosted by a professional public relations company, one that focuses on authors. Here are some practical things I heard:

  1. A new author’s TRADE push should begin 6 months before the book is released.
  2. Independent bookstores love small (8.5×11) posters for end-caps. Make some of your book cover and send them out.
  3. Mail postcards to bookstores asking them to mail it back IF they want an ARC (Advance Release Copy). This way, you don’t waste too many copies sending them to places that aren’t interested.
  4. Most independent bookstores have reading groups. Ask about speaking to them!
  5. Leave a bag of give-away items when you do.
  6. Sign copies of your book and put appropriately-sized stickers (don’t block important parts!) on the covers.
  7. Make bookmarks. A key point was made here: authors are inundated with bookmarks; readers are not. For the average reader, a bookmark can be a treasure. Indulge them.
  8. ON THE BOOKMARK, mention if the title is part of a series, and what number book in the series it is. People need to know.
  9. ON THE BOOKMARK, include a plot description.
  10. Target 10 independent bookstores at a time. Send them end-cap posters, bookmarks and selected giveaways.
  11. Target 10 plot/setting/character related outlets at a time. Send them posters, bookmarks and selected giveaways.
  12. Give local libraries FREE copies of your book.

The gist was to target independent bookstores – ones who make their own decisions about what titles to buy. While the Big Box Bookstores are stocked by corporate buyers, authors can affect how visible their books are once they are in the stores by making themselves noticed – in a good way!

Other bits of random advice:

  • You already have your website. Now purchase the domain names of your book title(s) and have those domains link to the page on YOUR website that refers to that book.

For example: would be routed to this page: Once there, the reader could read the first chapter of that book, then (hopefully) explore my whole site.

I added 5 domains and routed them for a whapping $35 per year. I’d say that’s money well spent, considering that now my book titles will show up on search engines and take the searcher straight to my site.

  • Branding is still the key element. Consistency from beginning to end is crucial.

On the trade side this means that every scrap you put in a bookseller’s hand needs to match. Find something about your books – all of them – that can be a visual trigger pointing attention specifically to YOU. They suggested picking 5 words that convey who you are as an author (related to your writing) and bounce off of those.

If you are being published by a New York house, this will probably be decided for you. If you are independently or small press pubbed, you should have some say. In either case, the promotions that you do on your own should be coordinated with what your publisher decides to do!

Next up is Reader Promotions: Building Your Tribe – helping them to find you and to love you.

5 Responses to “Romantic Times Booklovers Convention: PROMOTION-PROMOTION-PROMOTION ~ The “Trade” Version!”

  1. 1 Michelle 05/06/2010 at 10:29 AM

    What a wonderful article. I can attest to the posters for end caps and my customers LOVE bookmarks. I have had them bring them back in wanting to know where I have the book stocked.

  2. 3 amberscottproject 05/06/2010 at 10:29 AM

    I love this post! Specific tips are exactly what we beginners need. I think the key to a good bookmark is making it worth saving. For instance, a great cover, a great blurb, a signature, a motivational quote, all on good sturdy laminated stock. Make them collectible.

  3. 4 Theresa Meyers 05/14/2010 at 12:43 PM

    Bookmarks and posters are lovely, and that’s the easier things for authors to do, (especially if you use a list like the one you can purchase from Pat Rouse rousepat at aol dot com) but to reach out to media they need to be educated on what media look for, how to reach them appropriately and how to handle the interview process to make it worth while. It’s not just picking up the phone or sending an email.

    To learn the basics they need to look into taking some online classes specifically for media training or hiring an independent publicist because your in-house publicist (even at a big NY house) isn’t going to teach you.

    I’ve got some free how-to articles up at, and give classes on author branding, media training, writing back cover blurbs, etc. to various groups, online writers sites and RWA chapters throughout the year.

    I always tell clients, have three good reasons why you are spending your money on a item before you buy it, or don’t buy it. Make sure it’s reuseable ( example, candy wrappers get thrown away – so they are worthless, whereas people might keep an emery board for years) and has your url for your website on everything! Bookmarks are one of those things. It can be a good tool, but know exactly what you are going to do with them (just putting them out at a national RWA conference is not a good use) before you buy them.

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