As publishers' budgets shrink, authors are now more than ever responsible for their own self-promotion. And many authors now are self-published, so they are their own marketing department. Self-promotion may seem intimidating, particularly to authors who are more comfortable writing alone in a room than getting out and talking to people about their work. But writers need not be intimidated. There are a few efficient ways to self-promote both online and offline.
1. Keep it local - Local bookstores are often interested in doing signings, readings and promotions for authors, and many local bookstores will extend the definition of "local" to a fairly large radius, so there's no need to despair for authors who live in towns too small for bookstores. In fact, smaller communities are excellent for another type of local self-promotion, the press. Contacting the local newspaper with a press release can be an effective way to wind up as the subject of a feature article.
2. Visit the library - Even more than bookstores, libraries enjoy visits from writers, and they needn't even be local. YA authors can give talks to kids and teens, but talks by adult writers will be welcome as well. Librarians may also be persuaded to order an author's books following such a talk.
3. Visit schools - YA writers should look into local school visits, and writers for adults can visit college and university campuses. These types of visits can be as informal as stopping by a friend's classroom to chat about the writing life or as formal as an official appearance as a guest of a school or campus organization.
4. Go online - Twitter, Facebook and blogs are boons for the self-promoting author. Writers should not use social media to constantly push their books on potential readers, however. A marketing barrage will irritate and drive people away. Instead, writers should use social media to engage readers and potential readers and chat about things that interest them. They needn't be too personal; blog posts and Twitter conversation can be about movies, books, cats, food or just about anything else. People interested in following writers are likely to want to read at least some about the writing life. Concentrate on connecting with people, and the rest will follow.
Authors need to offer something of value whether it's a library talk or entertaining content on the Internet. In doing so, they come across as engaging people and interest potential readers in their writing. Rather than thinking words like "networking" and "self-promotion," writers should think about connecting with people. In doing so, they will find their audiences.
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