Squawk Radio

Friday, June 02, 2006

Eloisa on the Mysteries of Book Promotion


There's always lots of talk in publishing circles about how to make a book "break out". How do you create that all-mighty buzz, the buzz caused by readers saying things to each other like: "Dang, that Da Vinci Code is just a page-turner of a book! Why don't you buy it in hardcover?" Sometimes readers say: "Hey, that guy was just proved a plagiarist, or a liar. Let's buy his/her book and see what he/she really said." That's bad buzz -- but you know what? Bad buzz sells books too.

Since I'm not going to go to lengths of making up stories about having dental work without anesthesia (I'm the type who asks for medicine as I enter door), my publisher and I have to work on this buzz thing in the old-fashioned way, by getting out and meeting readers.

I thought I'd give you a look at the kind of thing an author does to promote a book. These activities fall into three categories: meeting readers, getting into media outlets, and designing web/internet sites for your work.

One of my favorite things to do is meet with a book group as a whole. Here's Elsie Hogarth's romance group; they're one of the longest-running romance readers groups in the country and (luckily for me) they meet in New Jersey. And Elsie reads the blog -- hi Elsie!!


Booksignings are sometimes very cosy events, like Elsie's Spring Fling, when she invites six or seven authors to meet her group, and sometimes they're altogether bigger and more formal. Walmarts are fun, because the corporation sends out huge banners. Of course, the fun is truly diminished if you find yourself sitting under banner while shoppers scurry past you without even pausing!

Another kind of promotion involves getting out into the romance community and becoming (as much as you are comfortable) something of an author to be consulted by the media. This is something I am very happy doing. Just over a year ago, I wrote an op-ed defending romance for The New York Times. That op-ed led to my appearance in a documentary being shot in Canada that will run on Bravo sometime in 2007 (I'll let you know as soon as the time slot is announced!). Here I am in the Harper Collins offices with the two wonderful women who created, designed and shot the documentary:


A final kind of promotion is through the internet. SquawkRadio is definitely the most fun advertising tool I have! The Squawkers have even placed some advertisements for the blog. Here's one:
The most important advice I have for any authors reading this essay is that you have to have an ear to the ground and be constantly seeing where the wind is blowing in terms of promotion. Squawk Radio was one of the first joint author blogs; now they're popping up all over the internet. I write short pieces of various kinds of media -- this year I wrote a short/short story for a German magazine, and an article on How I Found My True Love for a British magazine. I'm thinking about pod-casts, planning for next year's articles, and constantly updating my website. I wish you the best of luck in your promotion endeavors!

So here's a question for readers: what kind of advertising/promotion has caught your eye and introduced you to an author whose books you later bought? What would you suggest for authors thinking about how to spend their promotion $$?
Eloisa James, 9:38 PM
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