2021 Reading Challenge

2021 Reading Challenge
Jill Elizabeth has read 3 books toward her goal of 245 books.
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Guest Post: Market Your Book – Blog Writing Tips from Sheila Lowe

Welcome to the second of two guest posts from the fabulous Sheila Lowe – part one, available Monday, was an excerpt from Last Writes, the fourth installment in her Forensic Handwriting Mystery series featuring Claudia Rose; part two, available today, contains Sheila’s blog writing tips for marketing your book (should you be one of those lucky enough to actually finish your book – she said with a sigh). Enjoy!

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Marketing Your Book

Here’s a tip that about-to-be-published writers might find surprising and, hopefully, valuable: Unless you are a Dan Brown, Stephen King, or Mary Roberts Rinehart, your publisher is unlikely to put a lot of bucks into promoting your wonderful new book. If you’re lucky enough to have a deal with a major publishing house, you’ve got distribution going for you, which is terrific. But beyond that, it’s going to be up to you to promote your books. If you don’t tell the world that the books are in the stores, within a few weeks they will be returned to the publisher and your life on the shelves will be a short one.

For a new author, with the possible exception of your hometown, book signing events tend to be unrewarding in terms of turnout. Still, there is a hidden advantage to showing up at bookstores anyway, especially the indy stores—you get to meet the people who are actually going to be selling your books. These good folk are usually busy, so don’t take up a lot of their time beyond introducing yourself and offering to sign stock. They know their customers’ reading habits, so if you’ve had bookmarks professionally printed, booksellers generally appreciate receiving a stack that they can hand to customers who ask for recommendations.

Do you have a particular platform or “hook”? If so, you can increase book sales by giving talks at libraries, civic groups, or other venues. For example, like my protagonist Claudia Rose, I am a forensic handwriting examiner. Because Claudia’s forensic work is the hook for my Forensic Handwriting Mystery series I give talks about how my character uses handwriting analysis in her work. You’re likely to sell more copies at these presentations than at in-store signing events. If possible, invite a local bookseller to come and handle sales for you.

In an Internet world, it’s much easier to promote than the “olden days,” because access to your audience is fast and cheap. Joining listserves that will allow you to announce your new book (e.g., Dorothy-L, 4MA, Sisters In Crime, Mystery Writers of America, Romance Writers of America, etc., etc., ad infinitum), guest blogging on cool sites such as this one, and using services like Vertical Response or Constant Contact to send out group emails to everyone in your address book, gives you an almost unlimited audience.

Anyone and everyone who sends you an email should go into your online address book. When my books are released, I host a book launch party in my area and send an invitation to everyone in my address book, even when they’re in other countries. Of course I understand that people are not likely to fly from overseas or across the country to come to my book launch party, but the invitation serves the purpose of keeping contact and letting them know the book is available. I get lots of great responses from people who can’t make it, but say they’ll order the book. You can view the August 4 book launch party photos on my Facebook page and see how much fun we had.

Speaking of Facebook, you can create a separate Fan pages for your books—another good way to keep in touch with your readers and grow your following—something I have on my To Do list. You must have a professional-looking website for your books, and you can add a Facebook “badge” there, too. Twitter is yet another option.

These are just a few of the many things you can do to help your publisher promote your book. Showing them that you care about sales gives your publisher a reason to care, too. After all, Dan, Stephen, and Mary had to start somewhere. And if you promote yourself well enough, eventually, your publisher might decide that it’s time for them to take you to the next level!

Sheila Lowe is a real-life court-qualified handwriting expert who testifies in handwriting-related cases. She’s a frequent guest in the media when there are interesting handwritings to comment on, such as a recent Dateline NBC, discussing the Clark Rockefeller case. She is also the author of the bestselling Complete Idiot’s Guide to Handwriting Analysis, and Handwriting of the Famous & Infamous, as well as the award-winning Sheila Lowe’s Handwriting Analyzer software. Read sample chapters of the Forensic Handwriting Mysteries at www.claudiaroseseries.com

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