Q03: Self-Promo

(This question is part of a larger subseries called Perpetual WIPs: Published Authors. For the remaining questions, see here.)

What do you do to get the word out about you and your book in the time between announcement and publication, and what have you found to be the most successful?

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I maintain a Facebook fan page. I actively maintain my author profile on Goodreads so people who find the book through there have more information about the series. I’m active and lively on Twitter, and I invested in a good website and trailer. I also try to get out and do as many school and library visits as possible. I have no idea what “works”, I only know what I enjoy doing. I don’t blog because I’m a terrible blogger and it feels like constant work. The truth is, you can do marketing until you’re blue in the face, and even with your herculean efforts, your book might fall flat due to circumstances entirely beyond your control. On the flip side, you could do next to nothing and have a runaway success. With that level of uncertainty, it’s no use forcing yourself to do something you absolutely can’t stand, or can’t afford. There’s no guarantee it will be worth it.

The best advice I can give for marketing is to find some sort of social media you honestly enjoy interacting with and focus on making personal connections through that, then maintain basic information about yourself on the others so you have lots of channels open with less effort. Whatever you do, do it honestly with a positive spirit, and focus on making connections with people, not numbers.

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I did very little until a year or two ago.  Now I have a blog and participate in Twitter.  Before my most recent book launched, I set up a blog tour and did Goodreads giveaways.  However, I really can’t say that I have seen any definite effect from anything I have done.  Nothing seems to have compared to the positive effect of having ISLANDS selected by the Junior Library Guild and then as a best-of-2011 title by Kirkus. Unfortunately, that sort of thing is completely outside an author’s control.

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I make sure the deal news is out there (because the last thing you want is “she stole XYZ idea”) and that correct descriptions/release dates are up on Goodreads, but I try to confine my publicity to a push aimed at booksellers and tastemakers when the ARCs are out and then the big push when the book comes out. If you do too much promo too soon, you risk peaking before the book is available. This is especially problematic in kidlit because they have such long lead times.

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I do a lot of networking with schools and organizations to reach my audience. These days, social media plays a far bigger part. I use Twitter mostly. I think social media is fantastic, but it shouldn’t all be about self-promotion. The focus should be on sharing and learning and making connections. I want people to talk about my books because they honestly like them and believe in them, not because I’m out there constantly promoting myself.

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Blog, twitter, Goodreads giveaway, Facebook fan page, in person events.  The usual, really.

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I try not to talk about it too terribly much, because I don’t want people to be sick of it before it even comes out. I do occasionally tweet/FB inspiration pics or songs for the books. I announce the contracts when they’re official in a fun blog post. Really, I’ve just found interacting with people with the intention of meeting cool people is better than when you’re only focused on numbers or talking about your book. I get attached to the people I talk with, and because of that, they’re my biggest supporters. They make me feel like a rockstar on days my life feels out of control and messy. (Thanks to not cleaning and doing laundry while writing/editing like mad.)

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Mostly, I tweet. Well, I say “mostly.” I pretty much mean “exclusively.” Between writing and my day job, I don’t have the time or energy left to maintain a blog or anything like that. So I’m hoping Twitter is doing the trick. Is it successful? I have no idea. Only time will tell.

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I was already active online via my blog, twitter, and Facebook. My publisher created a Facebook page for my series and I hired a web designer to create a more extensive site. I joined a debut group – the Apocalypsies – which was great in terms of group promotion and meeting kindred spirits going through the crazy-making publication process at roughly the same time. I had ARC giveaways on my blog leading up to the release and did interviews with bloggers. For book 2, I’ve organized a blog tour and ordered a bunch of bookmarks, bookplates, and stickers. I’ve also expanded my online presence to include Pinterest and Instagram – but that’s more for fun than promotion. I have no idea what’s been successful, honestly!

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Readers, how do you find out about newly published or upcoming books?

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