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Tips From an Industry Pro: Get Your Book into Readers’ Hands
Thursday, October 19th, 2017

“Publishing” means “to make public.” But how do indie authors and presses actually do that? Recently, CLMP was fortunate to host Nicole Dewey, Managing Director at the legendary Shreve Williams Public Relations firm and Co-Chair of the CLMP board, to share advice and answer our questions on book promotion and marketing.

We offered Nicole’s workshop as part of our FACE OUT program, through which publishers along with their authors receive two years of financial support plus a series of technical assistance workshops and other group activities (made possible with support of the Jerome Foundation and New York Community Trust). The session included a wealth of advice, particularly toward advocating on behalf of a debut book project.

Build Your Marketing Community

Nicole began with this question: Who do you know? Starting with friends and family is the perfect first step for new or indie authors. This will develop your initial audience and can reveal media and press connections. Your closest connections will often be happy to help you promote your events on Facebook and, most importantly, buy a copy or two of your book.

Blurbs

Blurbs from credible, objective sources will resonate with your intended audience. Booksellers, review outlets, and your readers rely on blurbs as signifiers of who this book is for and why they should sell/review/read it. Reach out to your community. Even if you don’t have a conduit to your dream blurb writer, Nicole recommends that you reach out to them anyway, even if it’s a long shot. You never know who might respond!

Website

According to Nicole, a website is like a “digital business card.” Here’s what you need:

  • Up-to-date contact info
  • A bio and head shot
  • Upcoming events or readings
  • A portfolio of your featured writing
  • Links to any buzz or media coverage relating to your work
  • An email sign up

Even if you don’t have something like a newsletter or maintain a blog, collecting emails gives you a solid base for your mailing list. Just make sure that you’re upfront about what you’ll be sending them down the road.

Newsletters

People love newsletters! Nicole says they’re a great way to communicate with your audience and let your personality shine through. Readers appreciate being asked for their feedback, and a newsletter’s shareability lends itself to greater word-of-mouth promotion about you and your projects. If you’re just starting out, a quarterly newsletter is a good time frame. Here are some ideas for what to feature in your newsletter:

  • Visuals
  • Shareable articles
  • Short videos
  • Excerpts from your writing
  • A personal essay

Social Media

Let’s face it; social media is a paramount tool for promotion and marketing. An online presence boosts your visibility, widens your community, and offers an easy platform for you to engage with readers. As Nicole would say: Promote occasionally, engage often! Keep in mind: it’s important to relate to your fans and followers on subjects that don’t always revolve around your work. Ask questions, build relationships, and be a social literary citizen.

  • Follow media people and learn how to pitch to them
  • Keep up to date with industry news by following publishers
  • See what your favorite authors are doing online to promote their work
  • Make virtual friends and get advice (people love being an expert!)
  • Connect with reviewers early on so they’ll be more inclined to feature your work

Extra Tips

Still looking to pump up your promo? Here are a few final tips to help you get your book into as many hands as possible:

  • Befriend your local booksellers and hand-deliver galleys to their shops; be an advocate for your own book!
  • Check out the IndieNext list to see if you can get your work featured on the shelves of indie bookstores across the country
  • The best way to get reviews from an outlet is to write book reviews for them
  • Figure out what you want from your connections and tell them that specifically
  • Be memorable in your promo: think outside the box, stand out, and people will take notice

Want even more advice from expert literary agents, authors who have been in your shoes, and publicity powerhouse Nicole Dewey herself? Check out our Literary Writers Conference this December, the conference for the serious writer of fiction, nonfiction, and poetry. In the Publicity 101 session, Nicole will further explore the topics discussed here, and share even more secrets, tips, tricks, and strategies for successful promotion.

—Juliann Nelson, Fall 2017 CLMP Intern