Tag Archive for book promotion

Today’s Authors and the Dazzle Factor

The “Writer’s Row” banner hanging from the rafters of the Javits Convention Center is misleading, for no writing gets done here.Row

Rather, this is where unknown authors at BookExpo America, the largest book industry show in North America, plant themselves (for a hefty fee) in hopes of attracting the attention of agents, publishers and readers.

The problem is that most writers prefer the laptop to the lectern, and, it seems, would just as soon pass on making the transition from creative writing to creative marketing. The New York Times asked insiders James Parker and Anna Holmes to weigh in, and both agreed authors in the digital age must get on board.

Says Parker, “Authors have to promote their books, and they have to be flashy about it.” Holmes adds, “Writers are prone to take themselves very seriously, which is fine, except it also means they sometimes find the self-promotional aspects of their craft distasteful, if not downright excruciating.”

Too bad, right? Just as there’s discretionary income, there’s also discretionary leisure time. Few have much of either these days. Which is why if an author wants someone to spend days or possibly weeks reading his book, he should be willing to meet face to face, explain the plot in 90 seconds or less, and do it with as much passion the 50th time as the first.

I suspect the reason authors don’t always like speaking in public has more to do with stage fright than anything else. As an author who also teaches presentation skills professionally, I know that anyone can move the bar with practice and constructive feedback. Practice what?

– A tight pitch that addresses every reader’s most important question: Why should I care enough to read your book?

– The answers to obvious questions, like, Where did the story come from? Who’s your favorite character? What’s your writing process?

– And of course some may need to practice appearing comfortable. Natural hand gestures, smiling and good eye contact will all make an author appear more confident, and thus keep an audience engaged.

I’m betting most who are gifted enough to write a novel are also capable of improving their public speaking skills, and possibly coming to enjoy recasting their 400 pages into the digestible bites that will persuade people to read all those words.

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Tap into Local Coffee Shops to Meet New Readers

"Book Exchange" at local Starbucks

“Book Exchange” at local Starbucks

The Starbucks near my gym has a book exchange. I’d go there even if it didn’t, but the informal exchange is a nice bonus for authors who want to connect with new readers. To be sure, this is not about accosting strangers with a forced pitch. Rather, all that’s necessary is placing your book with those already on the shelf. I include a short note on the inside cover that says:

Dear Neighbor,  Thank you for your interest in my novel Bootlicker, which won the 2013 Readers’ Favorite Gold Medal for Southern Fiction, and which was named a 2013 Shelf Unbound Notable Indie Book. Bootlicker is the story of an unholy union between a racist U.S. Senator and the candidate poised to become South Carolina’s first black congressman since the Civil War. For more information and to see the video trailer, please visit www.stevepiacente.com. To contact me about possibly speaking to your book club, use: stevepiacente@gmail.com. I very much appreciate your interest. If you like Bootlicker, please also consider writing a brief review on Amazon. (Click book cover on website to get to Amazon page). Thanks again, Steve

The effort costs $5 per book, but it’s priceless in terms of building goodwill. Publicizing a new book is like launching a national political campaign. If you can’t get your neighbors to support you, you’re probably not going to be able to drum up much interest from strangers.

What other local venues have you been able to tap into to introduce yourself to readers?

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8 Author Resolutions for 2014

Make this the year you nail it

Make this the year you nail it

Say goodbye to 2013 and get ready to reboot. Just one question: Will you be ready when new opportunities present themselves in 2014? Some suggested New Year’s Resolutions for my fellow writers:

1 – Update your website and social media properties. Maybe you’ve won an award or changed jobs. Maybe that idea you had for a Tumblr site didn’t work out and you haven’t updated it in months. Do some housecleaning. You can’t expect visitors to be engaged if you’re not even paying attention.

2 – Make your bio a story worth reading. The only people who want to read resumes are prospective employers. Readers like stories. You’ve got one, plus the ability to tell it in an imaginative way. Creativity shouldn’t end when you finish writing your novel.

3 – Commit to more personal appearances. Efficient as social media is, a handshake trumps a cyber-shake. Get out there and meet real readers. Look them in the eye. Tell them face-to-face why you’re so passionate. That doesn’t mean neglect your social media arsenal; it means find a balance between being social online and being social in person.

4 – Become a more engaging speaker. If you write like Steinbeck and speak like an insurance salesman, there’s work to do. Three quick tips: First, practice aloud, preferably in front of real people, or at least a mirror. Second, understand your crowd before you walk on stage. (What do they care about? How much do they know about your subject?) Third, anticipate likely questions, practice your answers, and try to weave in some relatable stories.

5 – Improve your pitch. No one has much time, what with the demands of the job, the house, the kids and the car. If someone gives you five minutes to explain your story, make sure to nail it. And (I can’t say this enough) be enthusiastic every time you make your pitch. Excitement is contagious. If you don’t have any, you can’t infect anyone else.

6 – Distance yourself from the reviews. Some, hopefully most, will be great, but some will be lousy. Live with it. There’s no way to please everyone, and remember you never wanted that when you first started out. Otherwise you would have begun by conducting a focus group instead of a prologue. And for heaven’s sake, don’t get in an online argument with someone who pans your book.

7 – Keep writing (and reading). There’s no finish line for writers. When you finish a short story, a novel or any piece of writing, take a break, but after a time, begin something else. Sometimes the work is great; other times it’s slow and painful. The only constant is that to continue improving, you have to keep writing. And reading. Reading helps, especially when the stuff you read makes you think.

8 – Pay it forward. Wherever you are as a writer, there are plenty in front and plenty behind. Tip your hat to the ones ahead and help the ones behind whenever and however you can. It pays healthy dividends.

Good luck, all, and please share the resolutions you’ve made for 2014.

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Pinteresting Recipe: Travel, Photos and Books

Bootlicker in good hands

Bootlicker in good hands

If 80 percent of Pinterest users are women and women buy most of the books, authors need to be on Pinterest.

Problem is, authors traffic in words and Pinterest is all about photos.

Here’s one way to create a compelling board:

When you, a friend, or a relative are headed abroad, take or send your novel. You’d be amazed at the opportunities that come up to snag a photo of your book beside a famous landmark or in the hands of a colorful local citizen.

During a recent trip to Thailand, we visited a museum where two women in gleaming gold traditional outfits were posted outside. I asked one to pose with the book and she gladly complied. Could she read it? Does it matter?

Authors these days need to make a smooth transition from creative writing to creative marketing. Send your book on a trip and capture some photos you can use to reach prospective readers on Pinterest.

You might make some international friends in the process. Oh, and here’s the actual board: Travels with Bella and Bootlicker.



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Free Webinar: Tactics to Ensure a Successful Book Launch

If you have thousands to spend on some PR firm that will handle promotion and marketing for your new book, feel free to stop reading right now and go enjoy a nice adult beverage.

If not, please join me on Wednesday, Oct. 17, at 7:30 for Part 1 of

Free Webinar this Wed.!

a free webinar on the creation, development and execution of a plan to make your book launch as successful and productive as possible.

You can sign up in a flash at this site: