This week our question to be answered throughout the week at will is:
What's the one best thing you've ever done (or seen someone else do) when it comes to promoting a book?
We'd love to hear everyone else's answer to this question, too--so leave a comment. Thanks!
Well, speaking from the editor perspective, the best thing I've ever done to promote one of the books I've edited is to send out emails about specific books, add a little blurb about the book to my email signatures, and write about the book in my blog. Here are a few of my book posts: Flight of the Dodo, Nothing But the Truth (and a few white lies), Year of the Dog, and Blow Out the Moon. I'll always put my books face-out or on display when I see them in a bookstore. :) And I advocate for the book in-house, of course. Other than that, I encourage my authors to think of creative promotional ideas on their own--and encourage them to read The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell, because you never know what's going to help the book take off. I wish I could do more...
In terms of what I've seen other authors do, I think Jarrett Krosoczka did a great job promoting Punk Farm: he made a myspace page for the book (before most others were doing this), and had friends record a song as the band Punk Farm. He made great stickers and T-shirts, a fun website, a preview movie, and more. It paid off, resulting in a Dreamworks movie deal.
I'm looking forward to my company's promotion of Chowder by Peter Brown. We have a really fun, creative marketing plan, including some traditional things: ads, mailings, stickers, cards, etc., and some really different things: teaser poster campaign in a targeted neighborhood of Brooklyn (look for it over Labor Day weekend) and a screen pal (a little animated Chowder keeps you company on your desktop!). Peter has set up a great website, too--I can't get over the dripping drool! So we'll see how it goes. Chowder just got a starred review in Booklist, so we're off to a great start! I'm in love with the quirky, drooling bulldog.
Well, I've done postcards, written articles for newsletters, gone to my fair share of bad and good events, done interviews, spoken at conferences, hired a publicist (who is on maternity leave right now), and gone on the Today Show. It's hard to tell which of those worked...in a weird way, there is no real "best" All of those things contribute, working hand-in-hand.
I think, for me, the absolute best promotion is word of mouth. So for The Year of the Dog (my most recent book), I really exploited my mailing list. My website allows people to sign up to be on my mailing list and at prior events (when I don't forget, which is 50/50) I brought a book for people to sign up in. Then, when The Year of the Dog was released I sent everyone an e-mail blast and followed up with a postcard. These are people who I know like my work and are interested in it, so I didn't feel like I'm spamming them. And the kind of people who sign up for mailing lists are the kind that, if they like your book, tell their friends--who hopefully tell ther friends and so on...Anyway, I think it worked, though I haven't received royalty statements for it yet.
The "best" thing I've heard done was by author Brian Lies for his, "Bats on the Beach." He laminated his car and sent himself on tour with an elaborate presentation which including beach umbrellas. From all the accounts I've read and heard of, he worked his tail off--basically doing all the work for bookstores and publishers for them. Whatever he did, it caught the eye of Daniel Pinkwater who reviewed the book on NPR, catapaulting it to a NY Times bestseller. My hat's off to Brian (who is the nicest guy, he did a snowflake for Robert's Snow twice!); but honestly I couldn't do what he did. Just reading it makes me tired. But maybe that is why he is a bestseller and I'm mid-list!
Linda: The best promotional move I've made so far is to join a roller derby. I've gotten myself in the press more in the last 2 months then I have in all my career as an illustrator. Children's book illustrator by day, derby queen by night makes for great material apparently.