What I've Learned From My Subscribers

by Francine Silverman

As editor/publisher of Book Promotion Newsletter, I am fortunate in having an eclectic group of subscribers who number in the thousands. The ezine is interactive and subscribers are encouraged to share their innovative marketing techniques.

Since starting the ezine in March 2003, I have learned a great deal about the do's and don'ts of book promotion. Some has been through my own experience as author of two local guidebooks, Catskill Alive (second edition) and Long Island Alive, both published in 2003 by Hunter Publishing. But most of what I know today comes from this creative group of authors, publicists, book reviewers, book coaches and editors.

First and foremost, subscribers agree, never hold a book signing without an accompanying presentation, contest or event. Simple lectures can be a bust – To promote my guidebooks, I spoke at Barnes & Noble and Borders to large groups of people who asked questions and challenged my knowledge and then left without purchasing one book.

One subscriber gets around this by doing "teaser" programs, in which she speaks about material not included in her book about plants. She says these presentations are successful because people are enticed to buy her book for new information. Subscribers who have written about animals bring them along; healing therapists who authored a book in their field do healing sessions in the bookstore. The rest of us have to find something unusual to add pizzazz to our signings.

Targeting your audience is a must. A subscriber who wrote a humorous book about his running knew that having a book signing at Borders was not the way to go. He needed to find runners so every weekend for the first four months the book was out he'd travel to marathon races and do a humorous presentation to the runners the night before the race and sell books. He reports that "it worked great and the race directors enjoyed providing something new and different."

Another subscriber who wrote a travel narrative about a journey across America with her two children tailors her press releases, speaking engagements and promotional efforts to different niche markets. She feels her book has broad appeal so not only markets to mother's groups, women's groups and parenting publications but also to veteran's groups and the military since terrorism and patriotism are relevant to her message.

All authors pitch the media but how many of them are successful? One subscriber uses her "expert" status to interest the media. Her book deals with net crimes and she peruses the news online on a daily basis. When she finds an article that relates to a chapter in her book, she sends the reporter an e-mail stating why she liked the article and that she's available as a "cyber crime" expert for expert stories. Her e-mail ends with the press release for the book.

Some subscribers were experts before they became authors and use their expertise wisely. One doctor/author was invited to the 2004 Olympics in Athens and when a reporter surfaced, the doctor introduced him to the staff and then retreated. He didn't want to pursue the reporter as others had done. But in the end the article praised the doctor.

Above all, my subscribers have been my support system. After compiling the best of their strategies into a book and sending it off to a publisher who expressed interest, I was feeling blue. I didn't know if the publisher would in fact publish the book or when I could hear from them and expressed my angst in the newsletter. This drew a flood of suggestions on how to fill the time until the publisher calls: "wait a month before calling," "devote some time to your hobby," "write another book," "exercise," "get your marketing plan in order." One subscriber wrote that "a sense of being at loose ends is normal when you have completed a project that required a lot of energy and concentration. It's kind of an empty nest syndrome."

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About the Author

Francine Silverman's Book Promotion Newsletter is published bi-weekly. http://www.bookpromotionnewsletter.com.

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