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Article on Writing
How to Promote and Market Your Book
© Christina Hamlett

Many new writers, giddy from the euphoria of selling their first book, often assume that it's the publisher's responsibility to sound the trumpets and get out the good word. The reality, however, is that more and more of them are putting the burden of publicity on their authors' shoulders rather than their own marketing departments. Agents as well, cognizant of an ever-shrinking door in the industry for unknown writers, are putting greater weight on the amount of PR assets that potential clients might bring to an agency relationship.

(And up until now all you thought you had to do was just write a good story!)

The debut of a new book is no time for shyness. Herein are some proven ways to put you, and your novel, in the spotlight where you both belong.

Start a Buzz!

Don't limit the bragging to just family and friends. Throughout everyone's day are opportunities to converse with total strangers: doctors' offices, public transportation, grocery store lines. Learn to hone your "segue skills"; i.e., taking whatever opportunity presents itself to reveal that you're an author. The fact that there's a mystique about the publishing business in general and the "glamour" of having one's name in print will almost always spark a longer conversation.

Are you a regular visitor to Internet chat rooms or interactive bulletin boards? Don't just limit your good news to those sites that are only for writers. The cyber gathering spots for professions, hobbies, travel, etc. are all fertile ground for researching your next book OR responding to other contributors' inquiries with lead-in's such as, "When you're in Paris, there's a wonderful bistro you shouldn't miss. As a matter of fact, I put it in the opening scene of my latest book, "Bordeaux Beauty."

If you feel comfortable giving talks, there are probably plenty of civic clubs, schools, and organizations that would love to add you to their speakers' rosters. Not only will you get a free lunch out of it, but the chance to hype your new publication.

It Pays to Advertise

Press releases and newsletters are a great medium for spreading the word. So, too, is the aggressive distribution of flyers, brochures, bookmarks, etc. at writers' conferences. As for taking out professional ads (and for which you'll pay very high sums), their effectiveness is contingent on (1) how frequently the ad runs, and (2) the demographics of the readership. (i.e., an ad for a new romance novel will be more effective in a women's publication than a general interest magazine). If you belong to a writers' club, however, several of you who have new books being published at the same time could all go in on an ad together and lessen the costs for each of you.

Toot Your Horn!

Get to know the owners of local bookstores and arrange booksignings. Do not, however, assume that you will be surrounded by an outpouring of autograph seekers unless your reputation is already legend. For those who are just starting out, recruit a bevy of "shills" to visit your table at designated times throughout the signing. Crowds beget bigger crowds; the curious will be drawn to your corner of the store to see what all the excitement is about.

Do your writing talents include articles? Internet "e-zines" are not only receptive to a wide variety of topics, but many will include URL links to author web sites as well as short bios at the end of the item itself.

Give interviews. Weekly newspapers are always on the look-out for human interest stories about their subscribers, especially if your book has a local/regional slant.

Last but not least, get your book reviewed! In addition to all of the writing-related Internet sites and literary magazines that include write-ups of new releases, be sure to deliver a complimentary copy of your book to the reviewer at your local newspaper to enjoy at his/her convenience.

Former actress and director Christina Hamlett is the author of 17 books, 98 plays and musicals, and over 250 magazine and newspaper articles on the performing arts, travel, humor, health, and how-to's for new writers. Her latest book, "ScreenTEENwriters" will be released in Spring 2002 by Meriwether Publishing.

Copyright © Christina Hamlett

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