Posted by: Blue Horizon Books | August 22, 2018

How do I promote my book?

9780692090961_COVERMy good friend, Jon Bunn, finished his first novel The West Bluff last spring. We had been working on that manuscript for about a year, although Jon had a full manuscript of the book when we started working on it. And he had been working on his story for about five years before that! Writing the book is the hard part, I always tell the authors I work with. In comparison, my job of editing it and helping to whip it into shape, and then shepherding it through the self-publication process is easy.

I could tell you what a wonderful book it is, and how you will get hooked into the story and won’t be able to put it down till you’re finished. But other reviewers say it just as well — “The West Bluff grabs the reader from the beginning with plausible plot twists and realistic characters who live in harmony with the swamp lands. The author succeeds in describing poignantly the challenges that catastrophic events as well as the passage of time have on the life of the story’s central character. I lived in South Louisiana for many years and have now moved away. Jon Bunn brought me back! – Melva Haggar Dye, author of the novel, All That Remains.

Yes, the story is set on the West Texas / East Louisiana borders in Cajun country, but even a reader from Africa found the story compelling, as his (her?) review on Amazon reveals: “The West Bluff was captivating from the start. Being from Africa not having ever experienced anything the swamp life has to offer, the gripping storytelling put me right in the middle of it all. Although not being there, it felt like I was. At one point I could taste the gumbo and smell the rising tides. What a tough yet simple life they led, heartfelt from the beginning.”

It’s published!  Now what?

Now that Jon Bunn has a self-published book (distributed through IngramSpark), he is faced with the next-hardest part that all self-published authors face — getting the word out, letting the world know his book is available (through Amazon and Barnes&Noble online and Powells, in paperback and e-book formats), and of course getting people to buy it and read it!

There are actually many ways, and Jon is following up on many of them like a true pro, including scheduling a book talk and signing in the city that figures prominently in the book, Orange, Texas. Jon had postcards made to promote the book (by book designer, Dawn Daisley) and he hands these out everywhere he goes. He stopped by an independent bookstore recently in his hometown, Houston, and they are considering carrying it, and he’s been approaching various local newspapers to carry the news about the “local author publishes book!” And of course, he has let every friend he knows, or ever knew, that he wrote this book, published it, and it is now available!

We have also been looking into the many prize competitions available specifically for independently published books — e.g., Publishers Weekly’s Book Life Awards, Writers’ Digest’s Self-Published Book Awards, Independent Publisher’s IPPY Awards. This is a subject for a whole other post, but in the meantime, here is a very well-researched list, published on the Self Publishing.org web site.

Most libraries have an acquisition librarian who is the one who makes decisions about which books to include in their collections — this is a project that one of my previous authors, Eric Forsyth, will be pursuing this fall, as there are almost 60 local libraries in his county alone on Long Island.

Many local independent bookstores, even if they won’t outright buy your books to sell in their stores, have consignment programs — you give them a half-dozen of your books, and split any sales with them.

And you can never get enough people reviewing your book!  If your friends are buying your book, do what you can to get them to post a review on Amazon (or Barnes&Noble or Powells or wherever they bought it). Does your book has a particular slant that would appeal to certain readers? Jon’s The West Bluff is set in the bayous along the Texas-Louisiana Gulf of Mexico border and is chock full of the history of that locale in the Post WWII era.  Eric’s An Inexplicable Attraction: My Fifty Years of Ocean Sailing is, as the title indicates, about sailing the seven seas.  There are always magazines and online media companies that cater to the special interests suggested in the book, and they always need “content”! However, if you approach these companies about reviewing your book, be sure to provide other reviews and materials for them to excerpt from.  Don’t forget — writing is hard, and you want to make their job easy for them!

People purchase books based on referrals from friends, and from the reviews they read online and in newspapers and magazines. In fact, literary agents and movie producers looking for new properties also read the reviews and follow the book awards winners and runners-up to see what’s new out there.

The key is to try many avenues, and to keep trying.  Jon likens it to fishing (a sport he is particularly fond of) — you have to have your hook in the water, or you aren’t even going to get a nibble, much less catch the big fish.


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