Site Meter Vamps and Scamps: Promo on a budget

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Promo on a budget

This week, PBW has been doing various topics that might interest new writers, aspiring authors, and others in the writing industry.

She asked for topics that people would like to explore more closely, and one of them was....

PROMOTION~ to be exact, I think the words were What can be done about marketing for writers with a $2k advance?

Okay, so promo isn't my favorite topic, but it is something I've picked up a few things about. A lot of this is specific to romance writers, magazines, review sites, etc, but I know every genre out there has these things targeted to their genre. You just have to look for them.

Now I'll be honest. I'm greedy. I wanna spend my money on me, I want to take my kids and the DH on a trip, or buy a nice, pretty desk... but you have to put some of the money back into your career.

So with $2000.... what can you do? Bear in mind, the more money you spend on promo, the more it helps with Uncle Sam once tax time rolls around.

GET A WEBSITE!!!! I can't stress that enough. I'm also a reader and one thing that will irritate the crap out of me is when I try to find something out about an author and can't find a website. Readers want to to be able to connect with authors and a website is the best way to do it. A couple of sites to check into for web design are Millenium Promotion and Your Web Goddess

Some pointers...

  • If you are going to do it yourself, be objective. If you can't make it look professional, hire somebody. A dumpy looking site, a cluttered site, or a site that looks like your five year old did it isn't going to impress readers.
  • Don't get a website with pop-ups. Please.
  • Keep it current. If you've had three books out in the past two years, and it still has info from the second one but not the third~you're losing potential readers.
  • Make sure somewhere on your site you have a working email address. And don't hide it.

Get some bookmarks~ You can check around, but a good place to go is Earthly Charms. You can get a thousand bookmarks, including the design for around $200.

Use Banners~ Have a banner designed. Sites like Millenium will design a banner for about $20-$30. Then you can post them on reviews sites, every place from Romantic Times (more expensive) to smaller review sites, like FAR or AAR.

  • If you really want to go all out, you can spend about a thousand bucks and get an ad in Romantic Times magazine. Sounds like a lot of money, but remember, that magazine is for romance readers. If you've written a romance and sold it, that's one of the best ways to get the word out.

Make friends in the reader community~ For a variety of reasons.

  • Word of mouth sells books. People find out you've written and sold one, a lot are going to be curious. If they like what they see/hear, they buy, and if they REALLY like it, they talk about it to others. And that sells books.
  • Booksellers! I've met quite a few people who own their own bookstores. An independent bookseller can be your best friend. They like it when authors are friendly to them. Ask if you can send some bookmarks or an ARC (advance review copy) or both. If they like that book, they'll stock it. Independent booksellers tend to know their customers, they know their tastes. If your book is something that would appeal to said reader, they will mention it.
  • Pay attention. There are some people in the reader community that really like to talk about books they like. I've been known to give ARCs to these people. They aren't bookstore owners, but they can really sell your book. They tell everybody, from friends to the people in the local bookstore. Some of them have blogs or websites of their own. One author suggested giving away dozen of copies of your book to people with the biggest mouths~so they'd read it and talk it up. Sorry, can't remember where I read that.

Contact your local paper~ or if there's a local magazine, try them. I contacted Velocity Weekly. They did an interview with me and a fellow author, Anya Bast, and we got free publicity. It was a cute, fluffy piece, and very little work on my part. Of course if I'd known they were going to insist on pictures.... ugh...

So, keeping our budget in mind, lets assume you decided to have Jewel Stone do a three page website. The three page package is around $250.

You order 1000 bookmarks from Earthly Charms. $210, give or take.

You run an ad in RT. $1000

Get a banner from Millenium and run it on FAR for the month before and of your release. About $50.

That adds up to $1510.

You've contacted a local entertainment magazine and they are running an interview the month the book releases.

And viola... some simple, fairly cheap *mostly* promo.

Now I started out as an e pubbed author. Things are sometimes done a little different then. First thing I did was join online groups and start trying to establish myself among the readers of my first publisher. Then I designed a website. Then I started messing with things like banners and stuff. It wasn't until nearly two years later that I finally got a book into print. The e pub went into POD and I had to start promoting my print books as well as my ebooks. But promo is promo. You do what you can to get the word out.

*please bear in mind~I checked these prices prior to putting this blog together, but that doesn't mean the prices won't change. Please don't take anything I've said as written in stone. Check around, ask around, shop around.


LuAnn McLane said...

Hey Shiloh this topic is near and dear to me...and a matter of fact Heather Grothaus and I did a workshop on ths topic last Saturday with many of these same important points. It's difficult to know what works and what is worthless.

I love getting to know readers like the dear ones on our loop because I feel like I'm writing for *them* and I believe that this has made me a better writer.

I'll be popping back to see the feedback that you get on this topic.

Shiloh Walker said...

you LIKE promo?

hey, you wanna do mine for me?

snowflake said...

Croco Designs does website, banner and bookmark design, you can check them out if interested.