Chuck Offenburger has appeared frequently in this blog. He gave me my first job in journalism and I’ve profiled him and cheered him on in his successful treatment for lymphoma (before knowing that I’d be facing lymphoma treatment myself).
The past 14 years he’s been a journalism entrepreneur, working for himself and the people of Iowa. Part of that has been writing books. So, when I decided to blog this week about book promotion, I asked Chuck for his advice. He responded with enough good tips that I wanted to use them as a guest post, rather than rolling them into Thursday’s post with advice from me and several other writers. Buffy Andrews also sent enough promotion tips to merit a separate guest post.
Here’s Chuck’s advice (with a few links from me):
After doing seven books over the last 32 years – mostly biographies or histories about notable Iowans – I’d say that no matter how much technology has changed, the most effective book promotion is for the author to show up at libraries, book clubs, bookstores, trade groups and civic organizations, do a reading, talk about the story and answer questions. Then you sell & sign those books as quick as you can.
Beyond that, and before you even go to print with the book, I’d tell aspiring authors to use the technology. Do that book online. Invest in a good web developer who can do an attention-getting website that is interactive, so readers can write you for chats, so that you can do video and audio, too. Do it with photos and artistic illustrations.
Meanwhile, you promote the bejeepers out of it on Facebook, Twitter and other social media. If your book is good enough, you’ll create a real stir with people, and they’ll be quoting it and sharing it. Meanwhile, agents and publishers will be watching – especially if you ask them to watch. When they see that you’ve got a good one, one of them will be more likely to pick it up for actual print publication without you as the author having to cover that cost.
If you’re going to do a small-market book – say 5,000 or fewer copies – you’ve got to really want to get that story out there to make it worth your time.
One reward that new authors might not realize is that you will meet people you’ll never meet otherwise, and develop new audiences. That’s why in addition to your book, you should be blogging all the time.