OLD POST ALERT! This is an older post and although you might find some useful tips, any technical or publishing information is likely to be out of date. Please click on Start Here on the menu bar above to find links to my most useful articles, videos and podcast. Thanks and happy writing! – Joanna Penn
This is a guest post from Kit McKittrick, author of The Georgetown Cypher. There's a lot in this case study style article and I love hearing how other authors are promoting their books. I also used press releases successfully for my first book, and this post has inspired me to maybe try again!
I never imagined myself as an author of fiction, let alone historical fiction but getting closer to completing my manuscript, I realized how little I knew about author/self publishing. My career was in business management, specifically in blue ocean business strategies, which deals almost always with disrupting established business practices so I am no stranger to industry bias and the “Old Boy” way of doing things. In looking at book sales statistics for new self published authors, the numbers can be disheartening. But if you focus your efforts as a work in process, you can enjoy the journey.
On choosing a book title for search engine optimization
In coming up with a book title, I wanted to use a name that was mentioned in my plot and that the search engines would feature on the first page of results. I thought of using the name of a location to attract those readers that either knew the area or wanted to know more about it. I would then incorporate some local knowledge reflecting the location’s eclectic charms. Once I had picked the location’s name, I had to find a word to describe my plot musing. I looked for a word that was short, easy to say and not used in daily conversation and ideally one that had an alternate spelling. Armed with my words, I went onto Google and put my title into the search field. Nothing came up. There were a few results and Google corrected my spelling. I was pleased because no one had taken the domain name in part due to the spelling. I found this to be a good litmus test for my title’s uniqueness. I registered the name and put up a construction page which stayed in that state for almost a year before I actually published my book. I sporadically worked on it which allowed the search engines to post and refresh the name. I can’t begin to tell you how this one exercise gave me name ranking at relatively low cost. I did the same thing with my name, a nickname helps. Because of my business past, I did have some media exposure but working with web sites like urban dictionary.com and thinkexist.com gave me additional exposure at no cost.
Using Mind Maps for organizing book marketing and distribution
After completing these basics, I tried to absorb some of the many different strategies needed to promote a book. I keep track of many of my research suggestions by using a mind map program called Mindmeister.com which is free for three maps. It allows you to visualize your book marketing plan and corresponding “To Do’s” visually. This kept me focused and allowed me to track and maintain the many tasks to self promote my book. I updated or signed up for accounts on Facebook, Linkedin and Twitter. The combination of having these sites up made the task of finding me and my book relatively easy. Once my web presence was established and my book had been edited for the twelfth time I was ready to publish. It was now time to set up my distribution channels (Amazon, Google, B&N, etc.) and make sure the purchasing process worked, so when readers went to buy a copy of my book, if I was so fortunate, they actually could. The more production you do on our own, the closer you have to watch this aspect of the process. Then I had to sell my book.
I decided to do a soft launch of the book so I could correct any mistakes as I was introducing it. I thought publishing digital eBooks did not present the problem of having book sellers returning a printed version so my marketing envelope could be longer. I didn’t have an unlimited marketing budget or a following of friends or social networked fans, so I had to find ways to get people to be aware that I had published a book. I also needed to it to be reviewed. I talked it up to people I met and asked them to advance my cause. They bought a few books and I got a few reviews.
Writing Press Releases
After a short time I felt comfortable enough that the book had survived an initial introductory period so my confidence was high enough to write a press release. I spent time researching current news headlines that I could use in my press release.
The challenge was to make my press release relevant to the news items already covered. I wrote a relatively short press release remembering that press releases now are often read on a smart phone screen. So, as an example, if the combination of words in a news story had “Mystery, Ancient, and Secret” my press release had to share those same words. People following those news stories would then see my press release on the first page of the search results which disclosed the name of my book. The day I released my press release was last Palm Sunday, so in my case, I can also say part of the strategy was to make the timing of my release coincident to a holiday or event connected with the subject matter. I also wanted, in the release, to state a reason of why the book would provide some benefit to the reader/buyer. Give them a reason to buy it, not just for entertainment.
The statistics after one week showed almost 500,000 impressions, over 5000 media pick-ups and 1000 downloads of the release. I started blogging late and will use free press releases sparingly to maximize the exposure as I work on my second book. I hope some of these ideas will help you get more exposure for your work.
I would like to say to anyone reading this blog that I consider myself very lucky to have found Joanna early on in my research into book marketing and all of its many faceted aspects. She is an incredible wealth of information and I encourage anyone interested in this new way of publishing and media marketing to stay very much in touch with her work and blog. This article is meant to help you, the reader, so in my shameless self promotion perhaps you test the points I have made here. Please go to Google’s search engine and enter The Georgetown Cypher or Kit McKittrick. Thanks for reading!
The Georgetown Cypher is a historical fiction mystery thriller about one man’s journey into self discovery, only to find himself entangled in a murder, an international conspiracy and ancient secrets so incredible, they were hidden away for 2000 years. Set in Georgetown, DC, a young business school student unwittingly begins a quest that spans over 40 years. Kit McKittrick’s first novel introduces the leading character of entrepreneur, Ian MacAlester. The novel is laced with historical innuendo, spiritual overtones and a glimpse of life found in Georgetown.
Fragments of Ian’s discovery have been found in oral traditions, biblical and Gnostic accounts throughout the ages but its application has been obscured. Ian discovers the secret Jesus shared only with Mary Magdalene and doubting Thomas.
Image: Flickr CC shutterhacks