Shoestring promotion

Book promoting on zero dollars a day

You may have heard I have a novel coming out.  I have certainly been trying my best to make sure you had, and you’re reading this now so I’m guessing that part’s working out.

I am firmly in Promotion Mode right now, which would be much more fantastic if I really knew what that involved.  There are a LOT of folks out there who would be very happy to help promote the hell out of Immortal for me, but I don’t have anything to pay them with other than kind words and the occasional Praise Jesus.

So what I’ve been doing instead is bothering people on Twitter.  That plus this website you’re looking at have probably done more to get the novel some attention than anything else, but, of course, there is always more to be done.

Whatever that is.

Mini cards

I did get some mini cards printed up.  These are little business cards, about half the size (in height) of regular cards.  And they are just adorable.  I put part of the cover on one side, a quote on the other, with the release date and the website below the quote.  The only downsides to the cards so far are that some people seem not to be clear on what “10 – 1- 10” means; and I don’t know where exactly to put the cards.

Minicard front

I mean, sure, hand them out to people, fine.  But which people? Who are my readers?  I’m beginning to think my target audiences are: “female readers of contemporary fantasy who are bored with contemporary fantasies” and “men who don’t like contemporary fantasy but are open to the possibility that they might.”

Where might people who fit this description hang out?  Here’s my list:

1: bookstores.

2: comic book shops.

And that’s all I’ve got.  And I can’t even use #1, not really.  Immortal won’t be available in bookstores on 10-1-10; just on Amazon.  I’m nearly positive a bookstore isn’t going to be happy with a promotional card in their establishment that declares “buy this book on Amazon!  Not here!”

The larger question: the cards are adorable, but are they effective?  This I don’t know.  I bought 100 initially just to see how they looked.  As soon as I got them I bought another 200.  But if I wanted to saturate the area–say by trying option

3: college campuses

–how many more of those things would I need?  Should I throw in posters?  How effective is any of that when selling a book?  The cost mounts with each speculative promotional plan.

Blog interviews and blurbs

A definite winner in book selling would be collecting blurbs from Important People for the book’s cover.  And I don’t know a lot of Important People, but I have one or two intriguing possibilities.  I’ll also grant an interview to anybody who asks.  The challenge there, naturally, is getting people to ask.

Other than that?  I don’t know.  The book debuts in a little more than two months.  Do you have any ideas?

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No Comments

  1. Sue London on July 30, 2010 at 2:42 pm

    Are there any writing conferences nearby you can go to? They’re a great place to trade cards/promo stuff with others in the industry.

    Small posters might be good.

    What about some cheap(er) online ads?

    Check out what Kristie Cook (@kristiecookauth) is doing for Promise – guest blogging, online parties, give aways, contests, etc.

    • genedoucette on July 30, 2010 at 3:18 pm

      I… don’t know about any conferences nearby, actually.

  2. Danielle on July 30, 2010 at 2:50 pm

    I can say, since I’m doing it right now, that having a book giveaway on Goodreads is a fantastic way to get exposure. All it will cost you is the price of one book plus shipping to the winner.

    Not only have over 600 people requested to win the book, but 80+ people put it on their TBR list and I made sales during the first few days. Sure, not everyone will read it, but that’s 600 people who’ve seen the book that hadn’t before (and the contest doesn’t even end until tomorrow night).

    Getting involved in conversations and possibly having your book chosen to be discussed are also other ways to get it seen.

    Good luck!


    • genedoucette on July 30, 2010 at 3:18 pm

      That sounds like a great source. Once I have copies, I’ll definitely look into it.

  3. Scott on July 30, 2010 at 3:08 pm

    I honestly think that online promotion is the way to go these days – unless you’ve already got a presence, I’m not sure if most brick and mortar stores will be interested in even giving you the time of day, especially like you said when they won’t even be selling it yet.

    What about soliciting fantasy-related blogs and websites with some review copies or even advertising coverage once the book is available? I’m not thinking so much blogs that strictly focus on book reviews, but if there’s a specific niche audience that you can appeal to, coverage on the kind of websites that they follow might be a good way to connect directly with your target audience.

    As a side note just for the sake of discussion, how far out is the ideal time to promote a book? I’m sure it varies depending on the types of promotion and for reviews and whatnot, you obviously need to give the reviewers time to actually do that, but with regards to promoting directly to readers, where are the thresholds for “too early” or “too late”? (i.e. they lose the card before they’re able to use it to go to your site and buy the actual book)

  4. genedoucette on July 30, 2010 at 3:21 pm

    Well, the getting INTO bookstores is a problem that may not be a problem. I’m not self-pubbed and the publisher has a few intriguing contacts that may make it easier than one might otherwise imagine. It’s just not going to be immediate.

    The question of when to start promoting is a good one. I’m of a mind that starting the seeds now will help word of mouth spread up to the publication date. I’ll have other dates to tease–being able to preorder it for instance, from Amazon–as time goes on, so the more people who are going to the website and bookmarking it for updates, the better.

  5. regancoomer on August 3, 2010 at 11:00 am

    Have you considered talking at any of your local libraries? The library can talk you up on their website and hook you up with other libraries in the area.

    Also, I’d be more than happy to interview you for my blog prior to the release – I focus mainly on YA novels with a supernatural bent, but I think my readers would be interested in IMMORTAL as well.

    And then, of course, I’d be promoting the post on twitter, goodreads and facebook. My blog is

    As to the when to promote question, I think you’re right about word-of-mouth, but you might want to do the bigger things, such as excerpt releases/interviews, a month or so out. You don’t want people to forget about the book before it’s out.

    • genedoucette on August 3, 2010 at 11:13 am

      Well, my strategy thus far has been to build interest in this website (which is new) my twitter accounts (which are new) and the goodreads site (which is new) figuring that promoting and interviewing regularly up to the release date is the way to go, even if I’m starting 2+ months out. I have two more interviews pending, and I’m hoping the requests don’t dry up prior to the release date. As long as I stay in people’s faces, I’m hoping they don’t forget.

      DM me sometime, we can discuss an interview.

  6. John Yamamoto on September 7, 2010 at 5:58 pm

    My advice is to get on the good side of two/four of the more quietly influential science fiction groups that are already in your neck (ha ha) of the woods: the Harvard-Radcliffe Science Fiction Association and its alumni equivalent, and the MIT Science Fiction Society and its alumni counterpart. They supposedly have fan-zines and list-servs and running blogs. There’s also the Vericon annual convention – zero travel dollars for you to appear as a panelist.

    If any of this works, will you send me an autographed advance copy of IMMORTALS? :>)

    • genedoucette on September 7, 2010 at 6:09 pm

      John– very cool advice. I’ll look into them right away, and then maybe we can talk about those autographed copies 🙂

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