Wednesday, 17 December 2014

Book Promotion - Part 1

This is the last stage of the book writing process, after spending so long writing and editing your book you need to convince people to buy it.  No matter how great your book is unless people know it exists it won't get purchased.

Mary Ellingham from Search Press
Most publishers have their own marketing staff whose job is to promote their books.  However they are promoting many other books at the same time so your book will not be their sole focus.  Whereas for you the author it is, meaning you can put more time and effort into the promotion than they can.  After spending so much time working on the book it seems silly to not put the effort into promoting it too.  Although I do have to admit by that stage having just re-read the book several times over whilst editing I was feeling a little sick of it.  But you only have one launch so you have to make the most of it no matter how tired you are by then.

Search Press have a lovely PR called Mary, and I told her from the outset that I wanted to work with her on promoting my book and not just leave it all to her.  Luckily she was more than happy with and we have worked closely to make sure we are not duplicating work and contacting the same people, and she gave me a lot of autonomy to set up reviewers and giveaways etc without having to refer back to her on every little thing.

I understand from friends of mine who have written books with other publishers that not all PR's are as friendly and helpful and sometimes you have to go at it alone without knowing what the publisher is doing which is obviously a lot more difficult.

The 1st press review of my book

How to promote the book

So onto the how, I tried several different methods of promoting the book.

- Blogger reviews and/or giveaways
- Magazine giveaways or reviews
- Book launch party
- Writing free content for magazines or sites/blogs to promote the book
- Social media promotion
- Facebook Adverts

Blog promotion

I'm not going to lie, it is very time consuming, lots of e-mails to and fro.  For the bloggers I went through a mental list of who I know, and who has the ideal audience to promote the book.  I drew up a spreadsheet I contacted all of them by e-mail (individually not an impersonal group e-mail) to ask if they could work with me in some way to help promote the book, offering them review copies, free content or giveaway copies. Once I'd gotten all their responses, details of what they could do to help promote the book and their address I sent it all over to Mary at Search Press so she could ship the books out.

I have to say I feel very uncomfortable approaching people asking them to do what is essentially a favour to me.  I wanted to make sure they got something out of it, so copies of the book, free content and social media promotion from me.  I've been sharing the features and giveaways so help send traffic back to the people who featured the book.  As someone who doesn't like to ask other people for anything it was quite a big hurdle for me to overcome to ask people to promote the book for me.

Giveaway and review on Lily's Quilts

I have to say I am so pleased and grateful to all those who did, the sewing community really got behind and helped me to spread the word, sending my book straight to the top of the Amazon chart I am in (Starting a Small Business), and even now almost 2 months later it is still top 3, holding steady at number 2 most days.  I couldn't have done that without everyone who shared the news about my book and their lovely reviews.

I actually feel like it has helped me build my bond with many people, and has lead to me making several new contacts along the way so in hindsight I'm really glad I did it despite feeling uncomfortable asking for help in the beginning.

Made it to number one!

I started contacting bloggers around 3 months before the book came out, and then they started posting about the book about a week before the book went on sale and some are still posting now and I've got some guest posts lined up for the new year.  I didn't want to do a blog tour as I think they can sometimes be a bit artificial.  I wanted people to be free to feature it how and when they wanted so it was a more natural spread of posts rather than 1 solid week of everyone blogging about the book.

Some people featured it on their blog, some on their social media and others on both.  There was no strict schedule of who would post when. I left it to them to do it how they saw fit and to say whatever they wanted to say.  There's nothing worse than when you see several 'cut straight from the press release' posts about a book. 


When it comes to magazines I was lucky that I write for many sewing and craft titles so I already had a lot of contacts.  Plus the magazines are the first place most publishers go to promote their books so they contacted those that I didn't have contacts at. 

I've managed to get interviews and features in more magazines than I can count!  Including Sewing World, Craftseller, Craft Business, Craft Focus. Making Jewellery, Love Sewing, Workbox, Inside Crochet, Pretty Patches, Sew Magazine... Plus more coming up in the new year like Quilt Now, The Beadworkers Guild Magazine and new features in a few of those named above.

However, for most of those magazines I wrote free features in exchange for promotion, most magazines like to have unique content (rather than an extract from the book which another magazine might use too).  I lost count of how many features I wrote but I do recall writing 12 in one day!    Also do bear in mind that time spent writing their features is time I'm losing money, instead of writing paid features for magazine at around £100 each I wrote well over 20 free of charge.  So although I managed to secure a lot of press coverage, the book sales it will generate is nowhere near the amount of money I could have earned getting paid for the writing.

Feature in the current issue of Pretty Patches

However, it did ensure that thousands of people have heard of my book, and hopefully a decent percentage of those will buy it.  Plus it introduced my site to many people who may not have come across it otherwise.  In the first month after my book came out the traffic to The Sewing Directory jumped by 30,000 visitors so if you are viewing your book as a PR exercise it does pay to get the magazine coverage as well as blog promotion.  If you are in it for the money you would probably want to limit the writing for free and just see if they could do a news post or giveaway instead.

Given that this post has become so long I'll continue is in a second blog post on Friday.

PS. Whilst we're talking about promotion there is still time to order my book and get it for Christmas!  There is currently 30% off on Amazon, click on the pic below to be taken to Amazon.

Hope you've found this post useful, and see you for part 2 on Friday.

If you'd like to read my other posts about my book writing experience find them here. 


Sewing Princess said...

Thanks for the insights! Very interesting.

QuiltCandy said...

This is a really interesting behind the scenes post Fiona! I shall be writing a review for you very soon!

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