This last week, I’ve been working on an author questionnaire from Dutton, discussing everything from a 15-word summary of my book to the addresses and names of my hometown newspapers. Sounds like a weird questionnaire, huh? Well, it’s for Dutton’s publicity department, to help them figure out how to promote me and my book as they meet with booksellers and the like. Last time around, when BLACK TUESDAY came out (June 2007), I did a little bit of promotion for myself. Of course, I had my baby five weeks early, so I sort of checked out on my promotional duties three weeks in. Following is what I did then–and what I plan to do for CASHING IN:
1) A Letter Shows You Care
BLACK TUESDAY: I sent individual letters to about 80 libraries in NH and AZ–my new home state and my old home state. I think it worked well–four NH libraries had BLACK TUESDAY as a teen book club selection, and it looked like a lot of AZ libraries carried the book (ah, the power of online card catalogs!).
CASHING IN: I’ll still be sending those individual letters. But this time, I think I’m going to mention that I’m available for visits (in NH and MA and ME and VT). I sort of neglected to mention that in my BT letters. Live and learn. (And no, common sense isn’t all that common sometimes.)
2) Contests Show You Care
BLACK TUESDAY: I advertised a contest via colored flyers when BLACK TUESDAY came out. I think 100 people e-mailed me to enter. Hey, that’s a 100 more than I had before I published! And a 100 more people’s e-mail addresses for that newsletter telling them CASHING IN is coming out!
CASHING IN: I definitely think another contest is in order. I’m still thinking about the prizes–last one had a iPod Shuffle, Sephora gift card, and other fancy pants things. But do I want one really awesome prize or a few smaller, just as thoughtful prizes? In this economy, smaller might be better. (I’m just glad I gave my girl Reggie a Little Debbie Oatmeal Pie obsession–99 cent prize right there, baby.)
3) Review Copies Just Show You Want Others to Care
BLACK TUESDAY: I sent ARCs out to various places, such as TeensReadToo.com. I got a review from TeensReadToo.com, and the reviewer was nice enough to post that review on Amazon.com, too.
CASHING IN: I’m thinking about a different way this book can be reviewed, especially since so many newspapers and magazines are doing away with book review sections. I’ll let you know if Dutton approves it. (Hey, can’t give away all my secrets!)
4) A Press Kit Shows You REALLY Want Others to Care
BLACK TUESDAY: With my advertising background, I created a press kit and sent that out to local papers. I got some really nice inches from papers like The Portsmouth Herald and Today’s News Herald (the paper in my old hometown of Lake Havasu City, AZ–yeah, Spring Break Central. Yes, I really, truly did grow up there.)
CASHING IN–I’m SO doing this again. It paid off well for me with BT.
5) A Letter to an Old, Influential Friend that You Hope Cares Enough
BLACK TUESDAY: One of my old jobs was “Book Goddess” at Hastings, an independent bookstore chain. I was there three years, and I let the VP of Sales know that in my letter as I promoted “Hey, do you know your old employee wrote a book??” Unlike B&N and Borders, Hastings actually stocked my book in all their stores (that I called up, one by one, seeing if that letter had done any good). Obsess much? Yes.
CASHING IN: Oh, I so plan to do this again. I think I’m also going to be contacting some other old employers–Marie Claire being one of them. Last time, I didn’t “bug” them since it was a teen book. But you know what? Asking never hurts.