Karen Wiesner.com
Karen Wiesnerr

Karen Wiesner is an accomplished author with 54 books published in the past 10 years, which have been nominated for and/or won 72 awards, and 15 more titles under contract. Karen’s writes in many genres, including reference titles such as her bestsellers, First Draft in 30 Days and From First Draft to Finished Novel {A Writer’s Guide to Cohesive Story Building}, available from Writer’s Digest Books. Her previous writing reference title focused on setting up a promotional group like her own, Jewels of the Quill. Karen’s inspirational gothic romance, The Bloodmoon Curse, is published by Samhain Publishing, as is her newest inspirational romance series, Family Heirlooms. Book 1, Baby, Baby, received a 5-star review and the Sweetheart Award from The Romance Studio. Look for SHADOW BOXING, Book 2, in January 2009. Visit Karen’s Web site at http://www.karenwiesner.com. If you would like to receive Karen’s free e-mail newsletter, Karen’s Quill, and become eligible for her monthly book giveaways, send a blank e-mail to KarensQuill-subscribe [at]yahoogroups.com.

How to Promote a Small Press Published Book

rule of promotion for small-press published authors is to have a Web site...

In Part I, we talked about whether small-press, nonsubsidy, royalty-paying publishing is a viable option for writers. In Part II, we’ll talk about marketing a small-press published book.

If you’re a small-press published author, your marketing strategies have to be drastically different from those of a mass-market published author, and even when you promote aggressively, sales may be low. You’ll have a harder road to getting your name and work out to the buying public.

Most small-press published authors—regardless of where and how long published—use what I like to call a loose-cannon approach to promotion. They fire at anything that appears in their marketing scope. They’re all over the Internet like a wild animal on prey and try to get into as many co-op ads as they can afford. They live for the moment because the moment is a lot cheaper than the long haul.

However, consider what promotional experts tell us: Because of the marketing assault on consumers these days, a reader needs to see your name or book ten times (instead of the traditional seven) before they remember it. To advertise effectively, you need to achieve at least a 1% sell-through from each ad (a 10,000 consumer circulation means an ad should sell 100 books). So how do authors get their books into the hands of readers year-round without breaking the bank?

The very first rule of promotion for small-press published authors is to have a Web site. The age of handing someone a brochure at the point-of-sale when you’re at a writing conference or in passing and saying, “Here’s what I have to offer” is over. The best tool at anyone’s disposal is a Web site. Now we say, “Be sure to check out my Web site.” This is where you can show the world all they need to know about you, how to and why to buy your books.

Next, be aware that promotional benefits work in this way:

Aggressive, frequent, long-term promotion = Growing consumer awareness = Sales

So payback only comes after aggressive, long-term promotion that’s done often (which doesn’t necessarily have to be paid promotion) and a growing awareness in consumers. It’s a process. It almost never works like this:

One short-term promotion = Sales

Unfortunately, I think a lot of authors think if they promote once, they’ll get a lot of sales. > done for promotion is growing consumer awareness, and there’s no way to skip that step and immediately start making sales.

One thing I’ve concluded after looking at the promotional landscape for many years is that successful authors have two things in common: Their marketing is focused and long term, and

they have an irresistible lure. An increase in the number of promotional groups proves there’s power in numbers. These authors accomplish together what few can do alone: They share the cost of long-term promotion and market individually and as a group with memorable hooks.

Jewels of the Quill, http://www.JewelsoftheQuill.com, the promotional group I founded in July 2003, is one of the most successful author promotional groups around because our strategy is unbeatable, our marketing is focused and long term, we have an irresistible lure, and we’re constantly evolving. Our group Web site spotlights one member per month, and this includes a bio, the promotion of her newest release, an interview with her, and a giveaway for an autographed copy of one of her books. Our newsletter, Fans of Jewels of the Quill, goes out each month to over 800 members and we offer our loyal readers incentives to stay with us for the long haul, such as our frequent giveaways.

Paid advertising includes one-third page ads in Romantic Times BOOKreviews featuring two books from our individual authors and the group is also prominently promoted in each ad we run. Because these ads are extremely pricey, our ad campaign allows the members of the group to pay only a one-twelfth of every ad. In this way, at the end of each promotional year, all authors have been spotlighted at least once, but they’ve paid for their ad throughout the year in small increments rather than in one lump sum. Together, we’re able to put six ads in the magazine every year. We also pool together for promotion on online Web sites, such as The Romance Studio, which is an extremely high-traffic romance site.

One of the most unique aspects of this group is that we’ve begun doing group anthologies together—two per year—and these anthologies have won and finaled for some of the most prestigious awards in the industry, not to mention garnering starred reviews. Group anthologies can be some of the most rewarding, unique aspects of authors banding together. They can be both a means of furthering the careers of the authors in the group as well as promoting the groups’ individual writing talents. With a lot of promotion and quality stories, they may even become a source of income.

Remember what we said about a reader needing to see something ten times before they recall it? With a promotional group like this, in less than a years’ time we reach this ideal. Individually, we couldn’t afford to promote each of our releases the way we’re able to as a group. Individually, it would take each author in the group three or more years to do the same thing we can do as a group in a single year. No more ineffective, loose-cannon approaches to advertising. We’ve made our marketing focused and long term, and we always offer our readers an irresistible lure.

If you’re exhausted from trying to effectively market a small-press published book in ways that will have readers grabbing for your books with both hands all year long, try forming your own promotional group. My book, The Power of Promotional Groups, teaches authors how to jumpstart their careers by advertising in long-term, affordable ways within the safety and strength of a group.