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HOW I TURNED MY READERS INTO PUBLICISTS

Here’s a great article by bestselling author Kyra Davis on how she thought out-of-the-box to implement a successful, creative publicity campaign that generated quite a buzz for her last book, Passion, Betrayal and Killer Highlights.

HOW I TURNED MY READERS INTO PUBLICISTS
By Kyra Davis

Most new authors assume that they're going to get some marketing and publicity help from their publishing house. Don't count on it. In fact you can't even count on it if your editor tells you that you'll get that support. There's a good chance that your editor isn't going to be the decision maker in regards to what kind of campaign you're going to get (or if you'll get any) and it's not unusual for a publishing house to over-promise and under-deliver in this area. By the time I was publishing my fifth book I had experienced all the highs and lows of the world of book publicity.

I hired Susan to handle the campaign for my first novel, Sex, Murder And A Double Latte. The campaign she ran for me was nothing short of phenomenal. I got coverage in Cosmopolitan, The New York Times, The Washington Post, I was interviewed on multiple regional television talk shows...in other words I got spoiled. My publishing house ran the campaign for my second novel, Passion, Betrayal And Killer Highlights. They had a completely different approach from Susan. It’s true that my publisher poured a lot of money into promoting my second book but they misspent almost every dollar of it on things like launch parties in the Hamptons and free give-aways. No one reached out to regional television shows. There was no major push to get me in the highest profile publications. I sat back and watched as the quality of my reviews got better and better and my sales got worse and worse. It was painful to say the least.

I knew that when I published my latest book, Lust, Loathing And A Little Lip Gloss, I was going to have to take matters into my own hands. By that time many of the newspapers that had reviewed me had ceased publication. After the failed publicity campaign of my second book my publishing house was declining to invest much more in that area so my budget was small. I considered sending myself on a tour but that would have been prohibitively expensive. And then I thought, what if instead of traveling all over the place to visit with a bunch of readers I fly one reader to San Francisco to visit with me? I could hold a contest. All a reader would have to do is blog or tweet about my latest book and they would be entered in a contest to win a free trip to San Francisco and I would take them to all the places that my protagonist visited throughout the series. The businesses that were featured in the book (restaurants, cafes and chocolatiers) were happy to contribute gift cards to enhance the winner's San Francisco experience.

As I continued to develop the idea further I decided that readers would also be able to enter the contest if they reviewed the book on a bookseller's website. If they posted a book trailer on YouTube that would be worth ten entries. If they chose my book for their book group and had me speak at their meeting via speakerphone or webcam everyone in the book group would be entered twice. In other words I would make my readers my publicists.

There is no better publicity than word-of-mouth publicity and the power of the Internet makes that true ten-fold. The readers were excited by the prospect of visiting the haunting grounds of one of their favorite protagonists. Reviews for the book came pouring in only days after the release as people stayed up all night to finish my latest novel. Book trailers popped up left and right. In addition to all this I hired Susan to exclusively target Internet book review sites. And then the icing on the cake was CocoaBella chocolates. I had mentioned them in my book and in exchange they not only provided me with gift certificates for the contest but they actually came out with a specialty box of chocolates named after my protagonist. They even held an event for me at which my books were sold. So now I had a publicity campaign that was partially funded with sponsorships, I had a publicist to help me with the professional review sites and I had readers promoting my book with enthusiasm.

It was a successful campaign. Lust, Loathing And A Little Lip Gloss generated buzz and was supported by readers. Furthermore I connected with readers more than I ever have been able to before. It cost me a little more than a plane ticket.

When it comes to promoting your work you have to think out of the box and more importantly you have to take responsibility for your own campaign. Your book is your baby and expecting your publisher to truly nourish its growth and success is like sending your child to an orphanage and hoping that one of the nurses will decide to treat your baby with more personal care than all the other babies who are demanding her attention. Your baby deserves better and you, possibly with the help of a publicist (who is kind of like your baby's nanny) can give it the care it needs. Just don't be afraid to use some creative parenting.

Kyra Davis’ latest book, VOWS, VENDETTAS & A LITTLE BLACK DRESS is available on May 26th. Please visit
http://www.kyradavis.com/ for more information.

3 comments:

Hi
I have written a book and signed a contract with a publisher. It is my first.
I have decided to write an anonymous blog entitled 'Into Print! Diary of a Publishing Virgin'.
Not mentioning the book, or my name, the blog is designed to catalogue the ups and downs of a first time author as the book goes to publication.
The blog is at www.intoprint.blogspot.com .
I wonder if you might feel it appropriate to feature the blog on your site?
Yrs
Oh! Author (ohauthor@googlemail.com)

May 14, 2010 at 2:53 AM  

Great ideas for book publicity! Thanks for sharing,

Mohamed

May 21, 2010 at 11:23 AM  

Kyra, I love your approach, and thank you so much for sharing your creativity and ideas! They are well worth considering how to re-tweak should I get so lucky as to sign that--first--contract.

I remember my very first novel (the unpublishable one) was called ARUGULA'S MOTHER and the protagonist drove a Jetta. I sported the fantasy that VW might name one of their cars Arugula Green ;)

Since then I've come down to earth, and so things like communing with readers sound more and more important, and why I thank you again for this great set of possibilities...

June 27, 2010 at 11:46 AM  

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