Mystery, suspense, thrillers, paranormal, horror & YA by "Cheryl Kaye Tardif" & romance by "Cherish D'Angelo". Cheryl is represented by Trident Media Group in NY.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Should authors spend money on promotional tools and reviews?

There was a discussion recently on a forum I belong to; we discussed whether authors should spend money on promotional tools like bookmarks and whether they should pay to have their books reviewed. This is what I think about both...

Authors can't afford to throw away money; we don't make enough to do that. Writing (the actual act) is our passion--a hobby, if you will. SELLING our work becomes our business, and authors need to become business-minded if they're to succeed. Every business needs some form of investment, but you have to be careful.

There are ways for authors to throw away money and ways to get advertising and sales without paying a dime. Paying a service to market your books is not the smartest way to go. Try it once and you'll see what I mean. There are very few that deliver what they promise, and again you're throwing away hard earned money. I've seen and known many authors who've invested thousands in some company that promises to expose their book to thousands of readers or libraries or book clubs and they were lucky to sell 5 books. Their campaign is now buried so deep that no one finds it after a month or two. If you've tried a service that has resulted in hundreds or thousands of sales and can prove it, let me know and I'll be happy to advertise them. :)

No matter if you're self-published or traditionally published it is the author's responsibility to promote their books--if you want success. The trick is to learn how to do this effectively and affordably. My nickname is "Shameless Promoter", not just because I have a good handle on how to market but because I consistently sell books. I've spoken at writers' conferences in Canada and the US on this topic. I just booked another conference where I'll be speaking about using online networks to sell books. So I know what I'm talking about. :)

Should you get bookmarks? Uh, no brainer, people! I've observed many authors' techniques at book signings and if you don't have something to hand out you have lost 4/5 of the potential sales right out of the gate. I just finished an interview where I talked about mistakes authors make at signings. This is one of them. Bookmarks are an absolute must. Don't give out business cards; they just go into the garbage afterward or are filed somewhere. Plus they At a signing, you want to signify pleasure, entertainment, a fun read. Business cards are only useful for handing out to people in the industry--store managers, agents, publishers etc. So buy some; they'll last quite a while.

At signings and events hand out bookmarks. Find an affordable printer to make them. Negotiate a deal for larger quantities, then order 2000 at the cheaper price. Have your book covers, website and blog URLS, email addy and a bit of intriguing text on both sides of the business card. One-sided means you've wasted half your advertising space. Bookmarks are not only useful, they create "after sales". People see them and are reminded to buy your book, or they realize you have more books (if you've listed them). I have Whale Song on one side, and Divine Intervention and The River share the other side. Right now I'm giving people extras at my signings and encouraging them to add them to stockings at Christmas.

Marketing your books online is the way to go in this day and age. Spending money on reviews is not. I have 50 reviews of Whale Song on alone, not to mention on various other sites. I never paid anyone a dime. Reviews are easy to get; you just have to know how and where to look. It takes creativity to get more than the average 10 reviews per book. You can offer to send review copies to reviewers whom you've researched--ones that have a high traffic blog, Google page rank of 3+, a faithful following/fan base, plenty of commenters, or are members of book clubs. Don't send them to just anyone. Or you can think of ways to encourage those who buy your books to review them. Why not hold a contest? Do a draw from all reviewers on Amazon and give them a prize you have had donated to you. Or say you'll pick your favorite review and give them a prize...get the picture?

There are other ways to market your books. Use online social networks like MySpace, Goodreads, Shelfari, etc and word of mouth advertising will spread virally--if you do it right. Hold other contests on your blog or website and to encourage more sales, have them answer a question where the answer is found in one of your books. The prize? Something that a company has donated to you in exchange for mention (free advertising). I get stuff given to me all the time. Every gift basket I've given away has been filled with gifts that have been donated to me in exchange for advertising them. How have I advertised them? A few posters in a bookstore, or on handouts in stores, and a mention on my blog/site.

I think the key is you just have to get creative and think outside of the box...or bookstore. We should be marketing to all venues--stores and online. And anywhere our readers can be found.

For more tips on how to promote your books in stores and online, please read my free marketing articles posted at:

If you have found my articles helpful, you could repay me by buying one of my novels for yourself or a friend. They make great Christmas gifts! ;-)

Cheryl Kaye Tardif novels are available on Amazon, or your favorite bookstore can order them in for you.

Happy promoting!
~Cheryl Kaye Tardif

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