marketing / publishing

It Takes a Village to Promote a Book

Credit: Nemo

Writing is the easy part

Fauzia Burke is the Founder and President of FSB Associates, an Internet marketing firm specializing in creating online awareness for

books and authors through web publicity, blogger outreach, social media, digital branding and web site development. From the company’s inception in 1995, Fauzia has been a trendsetter in developing integrated online marketing campaigns for authors and publishers alike. Before starting FSB Associates, Fauzia worked for John Wiley and Henry Holt. 

I’ve worked with Fauzia’s company creating book reviews for customers (I reviewed Donald Maass’ great new book The Breakout Novelist). She certainly has her finger on the digital marketing world. Here’s her take on how to promote your newly-released book in today’s publishing world:

Today’s marketing is truly about conversations and social media allows you to have those conversations. So if you are going to spend the time and money marketing your brand, you should think “Will this start, maintain, or enhance the conversation?” Will this get people talking, will they take it to their twitter feeds and Facebook pages? Will they forward, post, or retweet this?

I have found that it is seldom that one big hit that results in conversations. You need a lot of attention, some big, some small, all moving the conversation forward. If you compare hits to the old formula that big is best, then the smaller blogs have little impact. But if your goal is to truly broaden the scope of the discussion, you need lots of people talking on lots of different Web sites and blogs.

Even a feature on Web sites like CNN.com or Oprah.com does not guarantee instant increases to your Web site traffic or book sales. In fact, these days even a Today Show appearance is no guarantee. However, I believe a sustained effort to keep people talking results in speaking engagements, paid blog posts (yes there is such a thing), interview opportunities, more fans on your Facebook page, more traffic on your site, increased sales, and a recognition and expansion of “brand YOU.”

Selling books is almost always the first goal of every author, however if you chat with them a bit they’ll say things like, “I want to help people,” “I know my book will make a difference,” “I want to make sure people know what is really going on,” “I want to make people laugh,” “I want to entertain my readers” or “I envision a world where people love what they do and if they read my book they would.” I often take on projects based on these secondary goals, the goals that speak to the truth of the person and the importance of the book. These are the goals that are worth talking about.

As a marketer, I can’t ever get people to talk about the author’s first goal. Not once has a reviewer said, “Please buy this book because the author would like to have a bestseller.” However, those secondary goals have always started conversations and sparked interests and led to interviews and discussions.

Many of the bloggers we work with post their reviews on multiple blogs and Web sites like Twitter, Amazon, B&N, Goodreads, Ning, Library Thing, Facebook, and more, all of which increase the search visibility of the book and author. In that way, those reviews or features are all fluid and viral. They do not stay where they are created. They often take flight and have a much broader life than just the traffic on their own blogs.

Search results, conversations and virality are most important in today’s connected market place, and they are achieved by a broad spectrum of coverage, not just the sites that get the most hits.

So as of today, think about the real reason you wrote the book, the reason why only you could have written it, think about those secondary goals, and then get on with the business of starting conversations.


Jacqui Murray is the editor of a technology curriculum for K-fifth grade and creator of two technology training books for middle school. She is the author of Building a Midshipman, the story of her daughter’s journey from high school to United States Naval Academy midshipman.  She is webmaster for five blogs, an Amazon Vine Voice book reviewer, a columnist for Examiner.com, and a weekly contributor to Write Anything and Technology in Education. Currently, she’s working on a techno-thriller that should be ready this summer. Contact Jacqui at her writing office or her tech lab, Ask a Tech Teacher.

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8 thoughts on “It Takes a Village to Promote a Book

  1. Thanks for this post, Jacqui! The “conversation” is an important perspective! (I put this on my Twitter and Facebook as well.)

    Hope you had a good holiday weekend and that your summer of writing is going just the way you’d hoped/planned.

    (I had my final–my lips to God’s ear–reconstruction surgery last Thursday. This was the fifth surgery in 14 months. Looking forward to reclaiming the rhythm of my life now, sans these major interruptions. Two more books coming between now and next spring, if I stick to the plan.)

    Cheri

  2. I have my fingers crossed and a prayer in my heart that you are done. Two books–that’ll take all your time and hopefully keep you distracted. How’s the marketing for Separation of Faith going? With all those awards, I imagine sales will pop any moment!

  3. So often, we as writers think we have to do it all. Every successful business manager knows that success comes through delegating to those who are great at something.

    I’m going to have to take my own advice!

  4. Dear Jacqui Murray,
    It’s thanks to Cheri Laser and all her help that I was able to find you on Twitter. I’d like to thank you so much for writing such a helpful and hopeful article. It takes a village to promote a book. I know a lot of people who would find this article very helpful. I will pass on the word to them about you and Cheri. You’re right, it does take a village to promote a book. I’m only beginning to figure out how true that is.
    I recently self-published a juvenile sci-fi book that won Rising Star and has been consistently receiving the most incredible reviews. The responses I’m getting from people have left me amazed by what they’re saying. Just this week I was taken to meet a retired movie critic/book reviewer. He said to me, “I’ve never read a book that had the ability to take me completely away into another world like yours did.” You would think that with this kind of enthusiastic response, my book would be selling like hot cakes. But I’m learning that word of mouth only goes so far. I must admit, I’ve only been marketing my book for about two months, but I’m seeing firsthand how difficult it is to build up momentum, even with the Rising Star award to back it up. I desperately needed to hear the kind of encouragement that you and Cheri have to offer. If you know of anyone who might be interested in an adventurous, uplifting “futuristic” sci-fi book, feel free to direct them to my website. You can find it at warriorsoftheedge.com (Warriors of the Edge). I’m going to follow you on Twitter and study your website and find out all about your books. I intend to hang onto your every word. I need every little bit of encouragement I can get. Thank you. Katie Bridges

    • What wonderful news, Katie! I wish you continued luck. We’ve got the link to your website here, so readers can find you thins way. I know Sci-fi is very popular right now–more than my thriller genre. Keep working at it and I’m sure you’ll do well. Stay in touch so I can hear how your sales are going.

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