Day 25: Unique and Unusual Book Promotions

There are always ways to promote your book in unusual ways. The simplest example is that you can never tell whom you’re talking to, and if you’re an author, you need to remember that. Two summers ago I was on the phone, making reservations for the ferry to Martha’s Vineyard for a summer vacation. I told the woman helping me that I needed to get back to the Cape by 4 p.m., since I had an appointment in Falmouth, a Cape Cod town, at 4:30, and would I make it on the ferry she was suggesting?
She said, “Oh, yeah, Falmouth is 10 minutes from the ferry landing. Where’re you going?”
I told her, “The bookstore.”
“Eight Cousins?” she asks.
“Yes,” I said, “I have a new novel out, The Curse of Addy McMahon, and I am doing a signing there!”

Buy it from an indie

She asked me what it was about, and of course I told her, since anyone who asks about my books gets an earful! She then tells me that both her grown children are teachers, one a reading specialist! I asked if I could send her information about my books, and so now I’ve made a connection to a teacher in a state where I had none before. All because I was going to Martha’s Vineyard for a vacation.
I put out the word that I was doing a post on unique ways to promote one’s book and got some amazing responses. Thanks to all who submitted!
Success-SecretsChristine Fonseca wrote:
“Appearances—both live and virtual—have been a huge help to my promotional efforts for my book. A key to its success, really. But getting those initial appearances with a small niche book was difficult. So I used the combined power of social networking and appearances to really get doors to open.
“My first book, Emotional Intensity in Gifted Students, is a NF book for a small niche market. As such, I knew I would need to do a TON of promo to launch the book. So, I worked out a deal with a friend who hosts a regular chat on Twitter related to gifted education. For one hour ON my launch day, I was the featured expert in an international twitter chat. It was AMAZING and did so much to get the name of the book out there. I couldn’t have launched it better. I sold through my tiny print run within the first week, and sold through the next run over the next month. More importantly, the twitter chat opened the door to numerous appearances—in real life, and virtually. Since that initial chat, I have “spoken” at three global conferences on virtual platforms (including Second Life and Learning Central), and have booked numerous speaking engagements in person. The chat opened those doors, connecting me to experts and decision-makers in the field.
“Now I am launching my second book (and my first book for KIDS) —101 Success Secrets for Gifted Kids. Once again, it is a small market niche, and I need to really push it to get the name out there. And once again, I am the featured expert on a Twitter Chat next week. I am also doing Blog Talk Radio in May. I have no doubt both will help get my name out there and open more doors, resulting in more opportunities for public appearances.”
Phillis Gershator wrote:
Music CD as a promotional tool?
“When Bread Is for Eating was a featured selection on “Reading Rainbow,” David Gershator’s song in the book was also performed. That sort of TV exposure encouraged us to include songs with other picture book manuscripts. Sometimes they were used in the published book, sometimes not. Eventually, since our daughter’s a musician and has friends in the field, we decided to do a CD of the songs (along with a few more, some written for possible future books). We hoped for experiential ‘synergy’ with one format enhancing the other, and promotional synergy, too.
“We sent copies of our CD out for air and on-line play. A couple of stations played a song or two. Written reviews were positive: ‘Teacher and Librarians could totally use this album,’ ‘wonderful family music experience with direct ties to children’s literature,’ adds ‘depth to a story time’… Just what we had hoped to hear!
“The outcome so far? Mixed.
“On the negative side:
1. professional and manufacturing costs higher than anticipated
2. poor timing, heading into the recession

3. no obvious impact on book sales
4. very low CD sales
“On the positive side:
5. good feedback from customers
6. desire—and the confidence—to do more projects like this, but in connection with a specific book
7. insight on improving presentation in the future; for example, more repetition of lyrics for more audience participation
8. realization that we have yet to see how things spin out over the long term—creative effort is never wasted!
The promotional goals we had set ourselves failed, but doing the CD was creatively satisfying and had an inspirational carry-over effect for us. David summed up the experience: “Fun project if you don’t mind losing money.”
“In addition to involving music professionals, we came away with a few pointers for more promotional success:
1. keep abreast of trends, i.e., independent CDs are becoming outmoded
2. coordinate with publishers if at all possible
3. expect to exceed your budget
4. actively promote/perform in person
5. if money is no object, enter award competitions and advertise
6. create a music video”

Beginner and Protrack homework (I’ve been lax with the homework!)
Sit down with a piece of paper and a pencil. Not at the computer. Paper. Pencil.
Now, I want you to write down every single thing you can think of that has to do with your books. Does your character fall down in a playground? Write down “approach local playground safety association” and think of ways to extend your book.
Remember, you never have to show anyone this list so write down every stupid idea you have. You never know when a smart one will work its way in there!

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