Book Marketing, Author Publicity, Branding

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Guest Post: Jessica Handler

Today's guest post is written by award-winning author Jessica Handler. - Terry

I’m not usually a paragon of discipline, but when it comes to getting the word out about Invisible Sisters, marketing isn’t discipline: it’s fun. I’m fortunate because the book’s publicist played a part early and has a hand in publicity even almost a year after my memoir came out. Even a great publicist will tell you that it’s up to the author to be responsible for her book’s success. My publicist has made the connections for Invisible Sisters inclusion in some wonderful book festivals (I’ll be at the Virginia Festival of the Book in March, and the Southern Kentucky Book Fair in April) and I’ve pitched and organized lectures, book talks, and speaking engagements at writers’ clubs and community organizations. I ask friends and family (and friends of family) if I can visit their book clubs. If they live far away, Skype is a great resource!

Before you market your book, you’ll want to understand your platform. Get a friend who’s read the book to help you figure this out. Make a list of the topics and issues in the book, even if it’s fiction. Is it about children, parents, travel, religion, social justice, hobbies, medicine…if you’re not sure, ask yourself who your ideal reader would be, and why. This will help you decide what groups in your community would particularly like to hear you speak on this topic. Learn to use social media, like Twitter and Facebook, and update your status or your tweets to build recognition about yourself and your book with groups and individuals who you think would be interested. For example, if your book is about parenting and there’s a parenting story in the news, tweet, update, and blog about the connection! Don’t have a blog? Start one; there are plenty of free and low-cost templates out there, and plenty of students, nieces, nephews, and friends who can get you set up if you’re hesitant to try it alone.

Word of mouth (and keyboard) is the best way to encourage readers to buy and enjoy your book. Ask friends to tell other friends how much they liked it. Send thank you notes (the old fashioned kind, written by hand) to book groups and event organizers after you participate, and make sure to include a business card or promotional postcard with info about your book and contact info for yourself.

Here’s the easiest tip of all. Be friendly, enthusiastic, and support writers in your community, and they’ll support you back. Attend readings at bookstores, community centers, libraries, and schools. Join their mailing lists. Get to know other people supporting writers in your community. Writing is a solitary occupation, but you’ve got a book out! Time to celebrate and spread the news!

About the Author:

Jessica Handler’s first book, Invisible Sisters: A Memoir (Public Affairs, 2009) is one of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s “Eight Great Southern Books in 2009” and Atlanta Magazine’s “Best Memoir of 2009.” Her nonfiction has appeared in, More Magazine, Southern Arts Journal, and Ars Medica. She received the 2009 Peter Taylor Nonfiction Fellowship for the Kenyon Review Writers’ Workshop, and a special mention for a 2008 Pushcart Prize. Handler teaches creative writing in Atlanta, Georgia.



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