You’ve written that first book. You’re so proud of it. Now you want to make sure your public hears about it. What can you do to get some exposure in the ‘real world’ as opposed to on-line via social media?
Let’s talk about two that worked for me; book signings and interviews on radio and TV.
I live in a relatively rural area, not a big city, but I think that this can work even in cities. When my first book came out I took some with me and travelled about to all the bookstores I could find within an hour’s drive. At each one I would gather all my courage and ask to speak to whoever was in charge about doing a book-signing. I soon learned that the person with the authority to make that decision is not always present. Lesson number one; call or e-mail ahead for an appointment with the owner or manager. It will save a lot of time and frustration. Also make sure you know the owner’s name and can address him/her by name when you meet. In a way, this is a job interview. Treat it like one.
I also learned that small private bookstores were much more willing to have an unknown newbie in than the big chain stores.
Make sure that you show your client (yes, that’s what I call them) your book and ask if they would be willing to have it on their shelves to sell. Many will accept on consignment but the odd one might even be willing to order from your publisher. These are gems worth cultivating a relationship with.
My success rate was about half. One store owner suggested that I might want to team up with another author for the event. She even asked a local eatery to host us. We both read from our work and answered questions. I sold seven books that night, the highest number of all my events for that book.
Which brings me to lesson two. Offer to read from your book and to do a Q&A with your audience. All right, I know that some of you don’t like to read, or are not good at it. Maybe you could ask a friend to go with you to do that part. It really does make a difference. It hooks readers. Find out if the owner is willing have cookies and coffee for your guests. That may not work in small spaces but I’ve learned that it is a big draw. It seems the way to a reader’s heart may well be through his stomach. Who knew?
Make sure you keep a list of your contacts and keep in touch with them so that they will be even more willing to host you when the next book comes out.
Advertising is something you will need to discuss with each store owner. Will they take care of it? What does that mean – ads in the local rag, posters about town, announcements on the radio? Or will the onus be on you for all that?
I have had several book signing events. They are useful for getting your name known but your personality and your genre will largely determine how many books you sell at these events. It also helps if you have more than one book to offer. If you land that book-signing event be sure to have copies of all your books available.
There are three common kinds of interviews; radio, television and blogs.
Success in landing a radio or TV interview will depend to some extent on whether you have a local station. This is one situation where living in a big city may be a disadvantage. The method is much the same. Do your research. By that I mean find out which program might be interested, who the host is, and who makes the decisions. Most smaller stations will be happy to host you, if only for a few minutes. If you have a local connection to that station that helps. It makes you ‘local news’. Let them know what that connection is: you live there, you belong to organizations there, you went to school there, etc.. You want them to think of you as part of their community, not just some stranger who wants a favour.
Many interviewers will already have questions to ask, but you have the opportunity to add some ideas of your own, too. They will want to know a bit about you and your book ahead of time. Don’t expect them to read it. They may not have the time. Having questions prepared ahead of time lets them off that hook and gives you some control over what you want the audience to see and hear. It’s good for both sides.
One station asked me to read for five minutes. That’s a bonus but not usual.
Radio interviews often happen over the phone rather than in the studio. I don’t know which is more nerve-wracking: to sit facing your interviewer with a headset on, or to hold a receiver to your ear talking with someone you’ve never met. I’ve done both and each has its drawbacks and advantages.
Television is more anxiety-inducing than radio. My experiences were very positive. The host of the show wants viewers to enjoy the presentation. It is their job to make you look good so they look good. Again, having those predetermined questions goes a long way toward helping you feel prepared and getting nerves under control. Make sure to find out if you may display props, such as a poster about your book, and if they will display the actual book(s). Offer them links to your website/blog and where viewers can see and buy your book(s).
Both radio and TV stations usually offer you an opportunity to buy the links to the interview for your own use on social media. My last radio link cost me nothing, the TV link cost $25.00.
Blog interviews are a different kettle of fish. These are often offered by contacts you have made on social media such as Facebook or LinkedIn. They can be time-consuming but will get you exposure to all of the host’s contacts. To find these you need to develop an on-line presence, to network with other authors and bloggers. Here, it’s all about how you behave on-line. Join select groups. Participate in a positive way. Be nice courteous and be present. The offers will either come to you directly or you will find opportunities to request one from a blogger you meet. Soon you will have more than you can handle. You may find you need to become selective about which invitations you accept.
Good luck with finding your own book signings, interviews and blog interviews.