Promotion – Dawne Dominique

Promoting Tips

Origininally posted at Dawne Dominique’s blog

As Frankie has graciously been doing, linking to blogs, creating your own website, joining reader/writing groups, hosting a reader’s club//party, joining WDC, joining Yahoo author/reader groups in genres specific to what you write, adding yourselves and following fan blogs, doing up your Facebook, Twitter and MySpace, befriending authors…these are all free resources for an author to use to promote. Many of these sites post a “Call for Submissions” for certain publishers, so keep your eyes posted.

Always try to be aware that whatever promotional tool you use, and whatever costs money, ensure that you can recoup expenses and make a profit.


Radio spots: It never hurts to call a radio station and ask what they can do for you, but remember, any kind of advertising spot will cost money, but maybe you have a friend in the biz?

Newspapers/Magazines: This can also boost your sales, but it can be a hefty price to pay. Here in Canada, you pay per word for an ad in a newspaper. For magazines, there are hosts of different ones, including e-zines. To keep costs down, several authors can get together to share the price of an ad space. This can run you several hundreds of dollars, but shared, it can be reasonable.

Bookstores: Some bookstores offer promotional services to authors, and they usually have a price list of what they offer. McNally Robinson’s was a huge bookstore chain that had recently expanded to downtown Toronto. They offered premium based and basic promotion packages for an author for book signing purposes. Depending on what you wanted to host, for example, just a book signing table was basic; for a book signing with a reading and reception to follow, it went to $250.00 and up. But this also covered the ad in the newspaper announcing the date, time and location of your signing to the world. Sadly, the day after Christmas, McNally announced they were closing their doors due to the economic situation. Makes me glad I went with another book store.

Ad space on WDC: I haven’t looked into this, but I do know that WDC offers ad space, but remember, this will cost you some coin.

Billboards: This can cost a pretty penny, and I wouldn’t recommend it, but it’s something to look into, if you have the coin.

Booking a Venue other than a Book Store: This can be done too, like a kiosk in a mall. Again, to make money, you have to spend money.

Always try to recoup what you’ve paid forth in promotion.


Create a website/blog: There are many “free” builder websites out there. And hook up to an engine with a lot of traffic. Then add your website/blog link as a signature to your emails and include a small picture of your cover and a one-liner from your novel—something that speaks volumes. Post excerpts of your writing on your site; discuss what’s in the future for you and what you’re currently working on, etc. Inform the public. Host another author on your site, interview them, ask them to speak on subjects that might perk more interest and traffic to your site. Share your news with the world. You, as an author, have become a commodity. You must “sell” yourself and your novel.

Business cards: This is a good and economical means of promotion for authors. Have your website/blog, Twitter, etc. link on there so people know where to find you. Vista Print offers reasonable prices for business cards. Hand them out to friends to pass along to their friends. Always keep a couple of them with you wherever you go. Parties and get-togethers are good venues. Word of mouth does wonders. Ask other authors for an exchange of promotional items. You can bring these to your book signing, and vice versa. Several authors with the same publisher do this for one another, and it works wonderfully.

Join Reader/Author Loops: Yahoo has hundreds. It’s a venue where you can post excerpts and book covers of one’s work to quirk the attention of readers who are on those site for that specific purpose; you can connect with a variety of people, including publishers, editors and other authors who write in your genre. As well, all these sites have a Promotional Author Day where all the members can post excerpts, cover art and links. Who knows—you could be asked to join an anthology. This is how I was offered my first publishing contract. Join a RWA chapter or Writer’s Guild in your area. This may cost an annual fee, so research the costs.

Showcasing Yourself: Inquire at coffee shops, malls, stores, etc. as to whether you can place flyers in their window; look for message boards to post same on, such as schools (depending on the genre), restaurants, places of employment, etc. My sister owns a computer place, but she was more than willing to place my book signing announcements in their window. It caught the attention of many of her customers. Ask the people you know and toss some ideas around.

Arranging Book Signing: Depending on where you are published, this may be arranged in-house or you may have to do so. If the latter, go to bookstores and inquire in person. Making the effort to attend in person creates a much more personal impression than a telephone, but it’s up to you. Bring a copy of your novel with you, and be prepared to discuss it.

Printed Promotionals: These days, most people have color printers. There is a drawing program on the net called Serif 4. It’s free to download, and you can create your own bookmarks, or if you have a friend who knows something about graphics, ask them. Create your bookmarks or postcards with your cover art front and center with a small blurb, your website addy, and where people can purchase your novel (Amazon, name(s) of the bookstore(s) that carry the book, etc.) and your all important web address. Print out a few hundred. These are just like business cards. You can create some 8.5 x 11 posters (a sample of mine is below). Laminate a few of them and sign some as give-aways and/or prizes. Be sure to have a couple on your book signing table to give to people who actually purchase your novel. People like receiving things for free. You can give paper ones to friends and family. Hand them out like candy. Personally sign your bookmarks, if you’re so inclined. If you have a decent color printer, you can keep these printing costs minimal. Post announcement posters of the date, time and place of your book signing and distribute as above.

Create a book trailer: Windows Movie Maker comes with your Microsoft program. I confess, I’m hopeless at it. Post the trailer on uTube and advertise same on your signature, your website, and even some review sites will accept book trailers now. I admire anyone with the patience to do this creative form on promotion. I’ve tried and…Grrrrr. But I know several very talented people that can, and you can search the web for people who are willing to do this for you at a nominal price. Some are more expensive than others, depending on what you are asking for. Post the book trailer on your front webpage. Even for those who are unpublished, you can still do one for the book you’re trying to get published. Get a book cover created, as well. I’ve done cover art for several YA Novel Workshop members, and they post the cover art on their websites and blogs. I also have some of them posted on my three websites as free advertising for them. Authors help authors. Frankie has done AMAZING ones herself.

Author pages at review sites: Again, depending on the genre you write, there are many romance sites, such as The Romance Studio, Coffee Time Romance, Manic Readers, Romance Junkies, just to name a few. These all offer “Author Pages” wherein you can set up your own page there to showcase your novel(s), place announcements of your new releases, what’s coming soon, etc. Search the net for genre specific review sites.

Inexpensive Small novelties: Keychains, pens and pencils, magnet business cards, t-shirts, totes, scratch pads, calendars…the list is endless. Your book cover can be duplicated and adorned on just about anything. These are perfect to give as “thank you’s” when you host contests on your website or host a reading party at your home or at a friend’s. You can also give away an autographed print of your novel. Those go over really well. *winks*

Run Contests: I did this big time when I first started. Personally, I didn’t see an increase in sales, but that doesn’t mean it won’t happen. I did get my name out there to more people, however, and that’s what promotion is all about. Make announcements on your author loops that you’re hosting a contest and what one can win. Ask a friend to announce it on their blogs, websites, writing sites, and even review sites allow you make those announcements, too…everywhere you can think of. WDC is a fabulous place, because you have friends here. Wherever you are a member, shout out your contest. If hosting a book reading at your home or a friend’s, run a contest there and give away some of your promotional items. If you write romance, create a romantic basket of scented candles and a bottle wine, etc. Remember your genre and try to pick something specific to it or some key component important in your novel (i.e., fantasy with dragons—a dragon candle, wizard’s hat, etc.). My first release was a paranormal, so I picked up some black picture frames and dripped red paint on them so it looked like blood; I bought some exotic incense and a black diary and splattered red paint on it—my novel involved vampires and it was called Diary of Daniella Rolfe. Get the idea? Try to think of some unique ideas for a giveaway basket. Insert a signed poster and bookmarks, and even a copy of your novel. Dollar stores are great for this because they’re cheap and you can give away a lot. Remember to place some business cards in there, too. Your publisher will more than likely have a spot on their webpage for your release “announcement”.

Some contest ideas: Scavenger hunts–hide an icon/pic on your website and have people search for it. Then get them to leave you an email as to where they found it. Some publishers will also host such a contest/hunt on their selling page, so there will be a lot of traffic from various different author fans. If the opportunity arises, jump on it.

Post a question on your website that asks something specific about your novel. Aha! They have to read your novel in order to answer it, right? For example: What robe was Wizard Magua wearing when he fought the white dragon? Again, give an email address where they leave an answer. Announce when the contest ends (usually a month works well) and then pick a name and contact the winner. Remember, if you’re doing this via email, some of these people won’t all live near you, so be prepared to incur mailing costs. Also keep in mind the “size” of your prize.

Newsletters: This is another economical means of keeping your fans and new fans informed. When you make contact with a contest winner, inquire as to whether you can place them on your mailing list. You can do up a Newsletter one a month or quarterly. It’s entirely up to you, but this keeps people informed about YOU and YOUR WRITING NEWS!

Promotional Exchanges: Get in touch with some authors and do a banner exchange (i.e., they link your banner on their websites and vice-versa). You can also do a promotional exchange, especially if you’re having a book signing. They mail you their promotional items and you can gift bag them, depending on the amount of authors and items, and you do the same for them. Authors help authors. It also adds variety on your book signing table.

WDC promotion: There is a wonderful link for published authors to use in order to promote if their novels are listed on Amazon. You can find the link in your Site Navigation bar on the left hand side of the screen under “SHOP” and then hit “WDC AUTHORS IN PRINT”. It will guide you through the steps. Better yet, this is free promotion.

Okay, the ever important book signing table—what do you have there besides you and your novel?

Some bookstores will supply the table and chair(s) and a tablecloth. If not, you will have to supply your own. If you’re doing a signing yourself at an outdoor venue, like a festival or park (which are usually free), you more than likely will have to supply your own.

Your tablecloth color should reflect you and your novel (examples: black for horror/paranormal; pink/light blue for children/YA; red for romance or erotica [you could also have roses in a nice vase] etc.). My book store had an emerald green tablecloth (I asked the color beforehand). Seeing that it was Christmas, I ensured I bought red cloth napkins and silver glitter at the dollar store and artistically arrange them on the table.

Prop your novel up on a stand so passersby can see it. One of those plastic see-through frames are great for placing your booksigning poster in it or a MEET AND GREET PUBLISHED AUTHOR. Make sure it’s easily visible. Have your bookmarks and business cards nicely fanned out on the table. Add a bowl of candies, but ensure they are the wrapped kind. You have no idea where those fingers have been. You can also run a contest there, too. For every person who purchases a copy of your novel, have them write their name and phone number on a piece of paper and place them in a hat or again, something specific to your novel. Have the prize sitting on the table with a sign taped on the front of it, or depending on the size, close by. If your novel is fantasy, you could give away a pewter dragon candle or incense holder; for romance, some candles and a bottle of wine in a basket; for YA or children’s, a stuffed toy; just something connected specific to your novel works very well, too. The ideas are endless. And depending on how many copies a person purchases (I had one gentleman buy five to give as Christmas presents to his wife and daughter(s), he entered his name five times. People love getting something for nothing, and in return, you’re promoting yourself and your novel.

There is also a “Virtual Book Signing”, but I haven’t quite figured that aspect out. I’m not that computer saavy, but wanted you to be aware:

Here are some great websites that offer outstanding information about book signings.

And although this website is outdated (last revised in August 2006), it’s information is spot on and basically says the same thing as I’ve been outlining.

Dress the part: Because I write in the paranormal genre, I usually dress in black and a little vampish, but classy and PROFESSIONAL. You are not only selling your novel, but you are SELLING YOURSELF. For horror writer’s, try to get a signing date near or on Halloween. Then you can go all out with a costume. This does indeed bring more traffic to your table. A local author I met at my bookstore writes children’s books, and he donates half the proceeds to The Humane Society (they care for abandoned animals). His wife tags along and dresses up as a cat or a dog. It really draws people to your table.

This is promotion you can do for yourself. With the bigger publishing houses, they may have promotional budgets, which you can inquire about.

The biggest point I’m trying to make is: SELL YOURSELF and YOUR NOVEL, but do so within a budget that won’t send you to the poor house. You should be able to recoup what you’ve spent and hopegfully, make a profit. And do not expect people to coming running up to your table and begin buying. You have to be assertive, but not too pushy, friendly and charming. You stand up, shmooze, talk with people, stop them and hand them a poster or bookmark, or even a copy of your novel. DON’T JUST SIT THERE. Have interesting things on your table to draw people’s attention, and these can be what I’ve mentioned above.

Oh, and if you have any books left over that haven’t sold, sign those copies and give them to the store to sell on their shelves. Some venues will allow you to leave bookmarks at the front till for free giveaways. Even if someone hasn’t purchased your book, they get a bookmark with your info. It’s still promotion, promotion, promotion!