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Promotion, promotion, promotion!

Written by Michele Hauser on February 4th, 2012

Writing a book is fun; promoting it is hard.  I thoroughly enjoy the creative aspects of writing.  Hmmmm, what plot point will add interest to the story?  How do I picture this character?  How to help the reader envision him/her too?  All that is a joy… I love it!

But then —  once the book is published, it will just sit on amazon.com or the publisher unless people know about it, to even consider buying it.  Unless you are already a famous author, with a following which waits eagerly for your next book, or have a publisher who thinks your book is the next Harry Potter, getting even noticed is a challenge.

So, what to do?  Blogging is supposed to be a way to get your name out there (if people know to go to your blog).  You can blog on literary websites and even on amazon.com.  If you do so enough, your name becomes familiar and other bloggers might check out your book.  It is advised to share your expertise about whatever it is you are writing, rather than to blatantly push your book.  That certainly would be helpful for non-fiction, if you have done research and have insights to share.  Not as clear in fiction.  Perhaps discussing character development or pacing or the plot arc, but it feels presumptuous of me to be advising other writers about such.  I used to teach creative writing in middle school, so I suppose I could share my teaching strategies about that.

Another strategy is to do book-readings/signings.  Again, if you are not already known, bookstores and libraries don’t jump at the chance to have you there, so you have to take the initiative in promoting yourself to them.  I have found the independent bookstores are more open, in fact often eager, to encourage new authors.  And it is enjoyable to meet your readers, or potential readers.  Since mine are children’s books, my book-readings are generally filled with children.  Children are  more attentive when they take an active part, so I usually do a “readers theater” book-reading in which different children in the audience take specific parts (characters or narrators) to read.  I have re-written an excerpt into play/script format, which works great.  After the reading, I usually talk about how I got my ideas for my stories (the kids always ask about that) and generally, my approach.  Some have written stories themselves and want to know how to get it published.  Again, because my audience is made up of children, I give out bookmarks to go with my books, sometimes even pages of the characters ready to be colored.

My most successful and engaging strategy has been leading creative writing workshops in elementary schools.  Focusing on third, fourth, and fifth grade students, my potential readers, I engage the students in readers’ theater and also in their own creative activities:  (1) illustrating a character from one of the books (based on the text) and (2) writing about another character with the illustrator’s vision of the characters as prompts.  The students are  most eager and many then purchase the books from me at a discounted rate.

Still…. how to go viral?  Any ideas?

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