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Book Promotion for the Broke: Lunacon recap

As I mentioned over at the Magic District the other day, I had a total blast at Lunacon this year.  I was especially blown away this year by one of my panels, Book Promotion for the Broke — populated by a panel of promo wizards:  Violet Haberdasher, Jonathan Maberry, Gail Z. Martin, and Stella Price, with me in the role of newbie moderator.

These days, it is vital for a writer to promote their work.  With over 200,000 new titles releasing every year, and with the internet now available to us all as a powerful tool for disseminating information, the question is not whether a writer should showcase her work.  What I really wanted to know, coming into this panel, is how a writer can champion her work and differentiate her message from the thousands of other writers tweeting, blogging, and facebooking their hearts out.

I took notes, and here are just a few of the pearls of wisdom I received from the masters; any inaccuracies or omissions are mine.  I wish you could have been there too – if you *were* there and are reading this post, please chime in with your own takeaways, opinions, etc.

Generosity:  Book publicity is all about making connections with your readers and with your fellow writers.  Be a content provider, give people free reads and widgets and fun stuff online, and share what you know with other writers and people in the publishing community.  Personally, promotion sits much better with me when I think of it as giving to readers and celebrating with them, rather than begging people to please, please buy and read my books.

Aggregate the Long Tail:  Heh, the visual on that makes me smile…the many-tailed promo beast.  But this is actually the most amazing thing I learned, a real epiphany for me.

The trend these days in genre fiction is to sub-sub specialize.  You know, futuristic dystopian YA.  Historical paranormal romance.  Knitting women’s fiction.  And the danger is that you will salami-slice your audience so thin that your book will only sell to the six people who love Black-Death themed inspirational romance (just kidding, but you know what I mean).

The way around this tendency is to aggregate the sub-groups of readers who will love what you write.  Find your niche groups and reach out to them, bring them together.  For example, if you write dark technothrillers, you can reach horror readers, science fiction readers, science and techno lovers, thriller readers, and romance readers if you’ve got a romance element in there.  Instead of focusing on the hook that puts you on one shelf in the bookstore, use the mighty power of the internet to reach beyond that shelf to all of the sub-tribes that would love your book.

Follow the Readers:  Find existing readers’ groups, and go where readers already congregate, online and in daily life.  Make a personal connection…especially in small or e-only press, your relationships with readers will translate directly into sales.  And don’t forget booksellers and librarians – these are people who love books.  Find them, share with them, celebrate your books with them.

Promotion Zen:  You need to make your peace with the time and resources you have to promote, your comfort level with each type of interaction, and your budget or lack thereof.  As Gail Z. Martin put it, each of us does different things well, and we can help each other out with what we do best.

I’m inspired just reviewing my notes :)

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