Advertising, publicity, getting your name out there cheaply. These are things I have been trying to do, however there is no sure way that I can see to get quick and unparalleled results and there is no such thing as cheap publicity as cheap is not what you want people to see you as.
I could babble all day, I am good at that, however I would prefer to just let you know what I have done and what seem to work for me. You can then get out into the fold with some knowledge that will hopefully help you make the right decisions.
1 Attend conventions. You should do your homework, find out which ones would suite your genre. You can attend Swan-con, Wai-con, Supanova, Comicon there are also smaller ones that I have attended like Nexus.
You don’t have to attend as a seller. You can attend as a fan.
Year one I attended Wai-con as a seller. I mingled with the fans, passed out my business cards and sold some books. Best of all I made many contacts and friends.
Year two I attended as a fan, back pack and books in tow. I sold 9 books and passed out over 200 photo’s of my character Blink. Hint, 5c to 9c prints, look great and people love them. This is exposure and all it cost was a ticket into the venue and a day of my time and of course the 200 photos. All of which were covered by the sales. I also had friends dressed up, one as a character from my book, and they all jumped in and spread the word, passing out photo’s and business cards.
With Swan-con I initially attended as a seller and a participant, and this year just as a seller. Swan-con is also great for panels, book launches and just meeting great people. For a no name author I was very happy with my book launch as was every one that attended. Don’t be afraid to use a bit of smoke and mirrors. I dressed up like the main character from my novel minus the hood. Once I led with the line, “I could hear the voice in my head as I walked.” I flipped the hood from my cloak to cover my face, picked up an ancient looking piece of paper and in a dark and ominous voice started. “Before, before there was dust. Before the air became poison. Before the companies, we all live and lived in peace…” When I finished the last line. “Come closer so I may show you , the beauty, the suffering, so you may know too well the pain of trusting those our race once did.” the room was quiet. I raised my head and everybody in the room was just looking at me waiting on my next word. That was one of the most memorable moments of my life.
2 Get on Facebook, blog, get to know people, mingle with them and their pages and above all else, be yourself. People can see through you, especially when on electronic media. However it also works in the reverse, if people love who you are, the real you, then you have fans for life. I have a gentleman from Canada that papal’d me $40.00 for a copy of my book. What he got was a book, 40 business cards, postcards, a shirt and a really big shock. He has now vowed to buy every book I release from now on and passed out all the advertising material to his friends and further. I also have great fan who is a 15 year old boy. He runs one of the biggest social Sci-fi facebook pages and he advertises for me, constantly asks for book 2 and wears my shirt in public. These guys are not only fans, but to me they are life long friends.
3 Other authors. We have all been through the same thing right? Well no, not exactly the same. That is my point. Authors as a community are a great bunch of people. Get to know them, know of them. Look to them for inspiration, knowledge and most importantly, share. I frequently talk to John Marco and Ian Irvine as well as Stephen Irwin. After all, great authors are like you and me, human beings.
4 One thing I have learnt from Ian Irvine in particular is that people love competitions. Throw out some books, shirts, calenders, caps, posters as prizes, you never know, you may just get a few more fans.
5 Goodreads is also a great avenue to try. I have yet to try the competitions on their site however I have followed them and more often than not, they get great results.
6 Promotional material. Get yourself to Vista print or similar. Use and abuse their specials, their free products, coupon codes etc.
Words of warning. Do not go over board. I have four thousand useless pocket calendars because I did not think ahead and get them made for different years. Don’t be afraid to plan ahead. I should have got one thousand for each year. Live and learn.
Get your products together to save on postage. Make sure you load up on their free specials when you do.
I have a life size poster of my book cover that cost me nothing and it looks very professional behind me when I am selling my book.
I now also have about six thousand business cards and postcards to put in letterboxes, hand out and just put in the books I sell as my own customised bookmarks.
Shirts, be careful you get various sizes and styles. I have sold many shirts but there is no set pattern to my sales. Various sizes and styles. I have just ordered fourteen black shirts with 14 different designs as I have been told that black sells. I have had about ten percent of all people tell me if the shirts were in black they would be tempted.
Hats. They are something that is overlooked but if you can get one or two done up cheap during promotions, great idea. Young kids, adults who collect caps, all love the hat.
Magnets are a huge hit, never have enough of them. Calendar magnets are also a winner. Either way they are a great way of advertising. How many times do you go in your fridge a day and how many times do you look at your magnets? A lot if you think about it, right?
Trick of the trade. Get all your graphics you want to use for promotion material together at the start. Open an account and upload as many of the designs you can to the calender. Pay the postage and then all your graphics will be uploaded for the one low fee of $8.99 instead of the standard $8.99 per picture. Or better still, find a free uploading voucher and do them while you can. You may even be able to get the other items put onto the same order after you have uploaded to the calender and not have to pay the upload. Have not tried this yet though.
Also, don’t be afraid to change the text on your items. I load blank graphics to Vista print and edit the words on the fly. You come up with some great catch phrases this way. “He knows his destiny, lives for it, kills for it and may just die for it.” “Dare to Blink!” Just something to get peoples attention. But be careful, you can also get it wrong on the fly. “The tar Crystal” does not have the same ring as “The Star Crystal.”
7 Don’t be afraid to give things away. You won’t become a millionaire but you may become well know. A hat here, a shirt there, a book once in a while and you will have fans for life. Word of mouth is a powerful thing. For every novel I sell overseas, I pay for the postage, put in a shirt and calendar and other promotional material. And you know I don’t think about the money spent or loss on the sale, I think about gaining a fan or a friend.
8 The most constructive thing I can say as far as getting your book out there is, Get Yourself Out There. There are so many authors in this world, you are but a pebble in a pond. Don’t be the pebble that sinks to the bottom of the pond causing a small ripple. Be the pebble that skims across the surface causing multiple ripples as there are just so many great people in this world that even if you meet one person that you connect with and or touch with your writing then this effort was worth it…