Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Adventures in Online Book Promotion

As I explore the Internet, looking for unique ways to promote books online, I’m seeing more and more new ideas. I’m one who often thinks, “I wish I had thought of that,” followed by, “But wow, that looks like a lot of work.” These events take time, and most have an unproven impact on book sales. Still, ignoring the Internet as a marketing tool is not an option.

The first wave of online marketing for authors came with e-mail lists and groups, blogs, and social media sites devoted to readers and writers. Soon to follow were professional and personal networking sites. Then came blog book tours.

RMFW member Beth Groundwater’s May 2009 virtual tour for To Hell in a Handbasket was one of the first I followed. With one advance teaser followed by twenty-three stops over a month’s time, Beth had to write all those posts and respond to interviews, then follow each of the host blogs for days to reply to comments.

Many authors are using blog book tours these days, but there are more promotional opportunities popping up. As we tackle any new project, we need to remember this: To tap into your creativity, think outside the box. Look what these hardworking authors did:

Carolyn Poling Schriber. Her book launch party for Beyond All Price lasted three days with guest authors’ articles displayed on the party home page according to a set schedule. There were even virtual refreshments, recipes included.

Alex J. Cavanaugh. He created an audience of 400+ followers for his own excellent blog by diligently leaving comments as he traveled the Internet making friends. When it was time for his sci fi novel, CassaStaR to release in October 2010, he had plenty of helpers willing to post his trailer on the official book release date.

London author Talli Roland. The Hating Game, Talli’s debut novel, is scheduled for e-book release (ahead of the hardcover edition) on December 1st. More than 225 bloggers have signed up for the Web Splash! scheduled for that date. The goal is to get that all-important buzz going around the world.

Blogging and building an audience of followers is the base for most of these activities. When you add the contacts on Facebook and Twitter to the mix, it’s easy to see how these events help spread the author’s name and book title.

If you’ve had an interesting and productive experience with online marketing, please tell us more. Come on, leave a comment. You know you want to.



Talli Roland said...

Pat, thank you so much for mentioning my Web Splash! To date, I have over 420 bloggers, Facebookers and Tweeters signed up to help me try to reach the Amazon Bestsellers List on December 1 -- but the goal really is to help spread the word about the novel; a kind of 'soft launch' ahead of the hard-copy edition next year.

More and more publishers seem to be using ebooks in place of traditional hard-cover books to prepare the way for paperback editions. It will be interesting to see how it all works out - fingers crossed!

Thanks again!

irishoma said...

Hi Pat,
As always, you have an informative and interesting post.
Donna V.

Patricia Stoltey said...

Hey, Talli, thanks for coming by. I wish you the best of luck with the Splash and with The Hating Game. Looking forward to seeing you all over the web on December 1st.

Good morning, Donna. Thanks for the kind words. There sure are lots of changes in our book world these days.

Beth Groundwater said...

Hi Pat,
What I learned from my first blog tour was that people followed me and bought books for about two weeks, then views started dropping off and interest waned. So, I'm aiming for about 2 weeks for my March, 2011 blog tour for the release of Deadly Currents. After that, I'll be spending some time with the online Barnes & Noble mystery discussion group, giving them reports from the Left Coast Crime conference and answering questions about the book. I'm toying with the idea of promoting a preorder day, suggesting that everyone who was going to preorder the book anyway do it on the same day. And I like the idea of a virtual release party! Gotta work on that.

Margot Kinberg said...

Pat - What a great resource this will be for writers! Thanks for putting this together :-).

Patricia Stoltey said...

Thanks, Beth. That's good information. Two weeks for a blog tour seems like a long time, especially since you need to stand by and answer comments at each stop.

Patricia Stoltey said...

You're welcome, Margot. Hope to see you here often.

Carolyn Schriber said...

The online launch party was a wonderful learning experience, Patricia. Thanks for the plug. Was it successful? That depends, I suppose on how you define success. I sold a fair number of books, but I didn't become the runaway best seller overnight, as some promotions experts promise.

I learned that 3 days were at least 1 day too many. Visitors were less numerous as the days went on. Still, we had over 900 visitors in those 3 days, my Facebook friends jumped to over 300, and I picked up nearly 600 Twitter followers. I couldn't have found an easier way to build a writer's platform.
I formed lasting friendships with several of my contributors, and I discovered just how generous the writing community can be. I invited 16 writers to participate, hoping that 2 or 3 of them might say yes. Wow! 15 responded, and 14 contributed wonderful interview pages. Now I'm returning the favor -- and gaining even more exposure -- by doing guest blogs for them, so the effects keep multiplying.

I'll be doing a complete explanation of how to do a virtual launch for Carolyn Howard-Johnson's "Frugal Editor" page sometime soon, so stay tuned.

Patricia Stoltey said...

Thanks, Carolyn. This is great feedback for us...and Beth has already mentioned she's interested in a virtual launch. Be sure to keep me posted when that article goes up.

Monti said...

Great information, Patricia! I'm interested in the virtual launch, too, so will look forward to Carolyn's post. The Web Splash sounds like a great idea. I just signed up for Talli.


Patricia Stoltey said...

That's great, Monti. Thanks! Keep me posted on your plans.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Thanks for mentioning my tour for CassaStar! When the trailer came out last summer, I had over 20 bloggers who posted it of their own accord, and that really boosted interest. When setting dates for my virtual tour, I only had to ask two bloggers - everyone else offered - and it was 19 stops in less than three weeks. Plus on the day of th release, 70 bloggers posted my book's information. It just really amazed me all of the support. To a degree, I still have no idea what I did right!

Patricia Stoltey said...

One of the many things you did right, Alex, was to make a lot of friends across this most excellent network of blogging authors. The support we get from each other is incredible.

j. a. kazimer said...


Pat, great post. Very informative.
I have more of a question than a comment, and I hope those that have used blogs to launch there works might comment.

Are there specific blogs that one should be looking at for a book blog tour? I imagine you'd hit the ones in your genre, but are there other things I should consider when creating a tour? Also, does anyone have ideas about how much of a difference has a virtual campaign made in terms of sales?



Patricia Stoltey said...

Hi Julie,

I can't speak to the sales part, but Dani Greer of Blog Book Tours suggests branching out of your genre for some tour stops, just to reach a bigger audience. In those cases, you would want to gear your post toward the interests of the blog host and his followers.

Since Dani has given online classes on virtual tours and also manages tours for authors (for a fee), she could probably give you some good information on tour results.

Clarissa Draper said...

I have really been following these blog splash-type events and trying to come up with ideas to make my novel sell when it comes out.


Peter D Springberg, MD said...

Hi Pat,

I found a link back to your blog on one of my posts and then followed your own link to this article. Thanks for all the helpful information.


Jane Kennedy Sutton said...

These all seem like great ideas, but I have to agree with you when you said, “But wow, that looks like a lot of work.”

Patricia Stoltey said...

Jane -- That's exactly why I choose not to do a concentrated virtual tour last year. I had so much other stuff going on that I felt it would be more stressful than fun.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Patricia .. looks like there's lots of interesting cross - information here and must be so helpful to everyone ..

I just love the read & see what's going on ..

Thanks Patricia .. and I'm looking forward to Talli's web splash next week .. not long now?!

Enjoy tomorrow - Happy Thanksgiving .. Hilary

Kerrie said...

this is great information. And is really going to help me with my article for Writers Digest on book promotion. Thanks for putting this together.