And Then You Do This . . . .
Yes, it’s a full-time job—or more. Here are some things I did as soon as I could:
- Have cards made: This meant finding a good but affordable designer and printer and then doing the writing and proposing the design plan myself. Later, I had oversized postcards made to give or mail with my book when appropriate. I designed a few of these, customized for different audiences.
- Get meaningful endorsements: Pre-publication, I reached out to secure endorsements for my book from a best-selling author, a New York book critic, a spiritual leader, and a well-known actress, all of whom I personally knew. I also tried to get blurbs from inspirational authors I admired but didn’t know. To do that, I wrote appreciative letters, sent galleys . . . and got no response. (“The new ‘no’ is no response,” one of my publicists told me.) I was especially disappointed not to hear back from a Boulder spiritual author to whom I had written a very individualized letter and who had graduated from the same small college I had. But I later saw her present her newest book at the Boulder Book Store, and I could see she was frantic and exhausted from doing all the public relations work that she, an author of many best-selling books, still had to do. Note to self: Do not contact authors who are about to launch or have recently launched a book. Second note to self: Getting meaningful endorsements at any point in the life of your book is helpful. You can always post them on Facebook, Goodreads, Amazon . . . or your refrigerator.
- Think about Facebook: I chose not to have a book page on Facebook. Instead, I followed the advice of a fellow author to just use my personal page. This makes life a little simpler, but it does have drawbacks. I felt a little uncool pushing my book over and over to friends and relatives—and felt hurt when they didn’t “like” or “share” my posts!
Another drawback is that Facebook doesn’t allow you to boost posts on a personal page, although I was able to boost posts that I placed on my publisher’s Facebook page. And anyone can create and place ads (word-limited posts with graphics and the word “Sponsored” above) that go into news feeds of a targeted audience you choose. I started doing this later in my journey and continued doing it for a few years—with diminishing returns.
Meanwhile, as always, I made lists (there’s a story in my book called “Confessions of a Listaholic”). I decided I needed to focus on four areas:
- Publicity: Get write-ups (reviews/excerpts/interviews/features) in magazines, journals, and newspapers. I did research on all outlets that I thought would like my book.
- Distribution: Get books stocked at lots of non-bookstore outlets, including spas, gift stores, hospitals, airports, and unique sites. And I found that when I went in person to bookstores that did not already have my book, the buyer would often order it.
- Book talks: Arrange to speak and/or sign at many different places. My publisher arranged a couple of book talks; the rest were up to me—along with all travel expenses. The bookstores did a lot of the PR to the press and made nice posters, but they always did so with my help and editing. Boutique and gift shops are two outlets that consistently reorder my book and give it a great display, and they appreciate having signed copies.
- Create buzz: Send emails to everyone you know, starting two months before your book is released and continuing thereafter. Secure more endorsements. And look for influencers to send your book to in hopes that they will then help spread the word. (This is something you can continue to do for many years after the book’s publication.)
Well, you might ask, what did my publisher and publicist do? For that answer, read Part 4: What My Publisher and Publicist Did, What I Did, and What We Did Together