Monday, April 18, 2011


Ann Charles
Please welcome back Ann Charles with an article on marketing and promotion. If you like this post, please leave a comment when you finish reading.

by Ann Charles

I’m not a great plotter. I’m not a great editor, either. I’m so-so at marketing and promotion, and I scrape by as a blogger. So, what am I thinking by trying to write and sell books? Well, as you might have guessed, I’m not exactly known for my brilliant ideas. But two things I am good at are being stubborn and driven (borderline monomaniacal about anything to do with the subject of writing, according to some family members). I’m also not too bad at asking for help when it comes to spreading the word about my books.

I’m sure you have heard of the saying, “It takes a village.” For me, it’s grown to bigger than just a village. It’s becoming a small town, and I’m aiming for a small municipality by year-end. These days, even well-published authors have to help their publishers spread the world about their books, so learning how to enlist a small village of folks to help you sell your book is crucial. But where do you start? How do you motivate others to help you without forking out thousands of dollars to pay for their time?

It’s not easy, it takes a lot of humility, and it takes a bit of people-reading. You have to be willing to ask for help, and then you have to show each person how they can help you. The key is figuring out the individual strengths of those around you, and then convincing them how easy it is to talk about your book.

For example, if your Aunt Sally is someone who finds it easy to chat up a stranger about anything under the sun, she might make a great “Jr. Publicist” who is willing to go out to her local libraries with some of your bookmarks or chapter books to try to convince them to purchase a copy of your book. How about your coworker, Ed, whose sister is a member of a book club? See if Ed will ask his sister to consider your book for their club read, and offer to go visit the book club in person and talk about your story, writing life, etc.

Are you an eBook-only author? Ask your friends to go online and leave reviews of your books wherever it’s available. Give your family tools like bookmarks and magnets and chapter booklets and ask them to take them to their offices, factories, doctor’s offices and share them with their friends and coworkers who read books online or via an e-reader.

When it comes to motivating your village members, kindness and “thank you” go a long way. I also like to give folks fun stuff, like magnets, key chains, signed posters, and other relatively low cost promotional items. Plus, I thank them publicly online (Facebook, blogs, and Twitter) and in workshops and articles. This brings me back to the subject of humility, as in recognizing that you can’t make a book a bestseller on your own, and never forgetting that fact, no matter how many sales you make and awards you win.

We all have strengths, and we spend a lot of time and money on self-help books and workshops to figure out what those strengths are. Instead, why not start figuring out the strengths of those in the village around you? The key to success is selling books. You don’t have to do it all on your own.

If you liked this post, share your thoughts with Ann. Thanks for stopping by.

Ann's book Nearly Departed in Deadwood is available now Here.

Optical Delusions in Deadwood is available online in May 2011 and in print in July 2011.(Come back on Friday for an excerpt).

Contact Ann  at


Anonymous said...

I've heard from new authors that they didn't anticipate the time promotion takes away from their writing especially if they got a multiple book contract. Do you agree that publishers don't do enough to help promote a new writer's books?

Ruby Johnson said...

Thanks for visiting again and giving some excellent advice. Looking forward to your new book.

Ann Charles said...

Noni, the responsibility of promotion has changed over the last five years. These days, publishers can't afford to do the promo they used to for authors, and many authors now have to pick up the slack. Promotion definitely takes huge chunks away from writing time. I spend at least 60% of my time on promo now, and some weeks, 100%. Publishing is an entrepreneurial venture now for authors. You have to be a writer, a marketer, a promoter, an accountant, a salesman, and more. The days of getting to just hole away and write without worrying about promotion are pretty much gone for most of us.

Thanks for stopping by!

Ann C.

Ann Charles said...

Ruby, thank you for having me! I appreciate the opportunity to meet other writers.

Caroline Clemmons said...

Ann, you've touched on the part I least like about writing--promotion. I had hoped to sit in my office and write my stories while someone else marketed them. As you pointed out, that is not possible. Thanks for sharing.

Ann Charles said...

Hi Caroline--a little late here. Sorry about that. I really wish I was rich and writing for fun so that I could afford to hire an assistant for most of my promo. But my kids are too young to help enough yet and my family gets the hives when I talk promo. ;)

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