Making the most of your opportunities.
I recently attended a reading at a Tucson bookstore with a dozen other authors representing several genres. There was hardly anyone else there and I erroneously assumed I was in for a boring couple of hours. I was pleasantly surprised that many of the authors had good-looking novels or non-fiction books to highlight. The time passed quickly. Not only did I meet a few fellow authors and insure goodwill with a local bookstore, I also met a man who writes reviews for Amazon.com. He enjoyed my reading from Hell Rig and assured me of a good review if I sent him an e-copy for review. I certainly will.
Exposure (Other than forgetting to zip your fly) is golden and often difficult to guarantee. Like most writers, paying for exposure can be costly and risky. Ads in local papers or genre magazines can, but not always, produce a fair return for your investment. Shot gunning Direct Mail flyers to thousands, bombarding your friends and acquaintances with annoying e-mails and blogger posts can lose friends. Facebook, My Space (I can’t believe Justin Timberlake bought My Space), Twitter, Google+, etc. are excellent venues to present yourself first, and then your product (Remember, you are selling you, not just your most recent novel).
One cost effective method of advertising is to donate signed copies of your books to local charity events, libraries, schools, or American Legions. I have often gotten front-page exposure by local papers at such events. Send copies to troops overseas or area National Guardsmen stationed overseas and invite local base commanders and the press to the event. I have sold more copies at American Legion events and posts than at bookstores and I write horror.
Keep business cards and bookmarks on hand with your e-mail address and website prominently displayed. Leave them at bookstores, conventions, airport waiting rooms, etc. The cost is minimal.
Lastly, but most importantly, build relationships with people in the social media. Do not look at them as potential customers, but as friends. Even if they do not buy your book, they might recommend it to friends or mention it on their blog or website. I choose people I know from conventions, Facebook or Yahoo Groups and promote their latest novel as my Pick of the Week on my website. I do not know if it promotes sales, but I do know people see it.
When opportunity knocks, do not rush to hide your paraphernalia. (Ha! A little drug humor). Open the door wide and smile.