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