Wednesday, November 12, 2008

A week after book launch ...

© Marta Stephens 2008 all rights reserved

. . . have things slowed down? Hardly, but that's better than the alternative, right?

For the past several months I've been busy with edits, proofreading and a laundry list of things that needed to get done in preparation for the launch of "The Devil Can Wait" on November 3.

Consequently, I've been (or at least feel as if I have been) absent from my routine posts on other blogs and sites. But once a manuscript reaches the final proofreading stage, things happen very quickly and getting the book to press becomes the top priority on everyone's list.

I found it interesting to see how many e-mails and comments I received from other writers this past week who asked for tips and advice on how to promote their books. Their questions made me think back to when my debut book, "Silenced Cry," was released 19 months ago. In spite of my background in public relations, I knew little about the publishing world and knew even less about book promotion. What I discovered is that self-promotion is a very delicate balancing act between what the writer needs to "say" and the reader wants know. Fortunately, there are four cost-effective and positive ways to promote books.

Writers should:
1) Develop a website that represents their writing. Make it attractive, interactive, and easy to navigate. Remember to check the hyperlinks often. Nothing will turn a visitor way faster than broken links.

2) Promote their writing through a variety of articles and post them on several websites. Consider their target audience and write about an experience, offer advice, or write on a subject that will be of interest to readers.

3) Send press releases to the major newspapers and radio stations in your state and ask for an interview – not a review. Most newspapers no longer write book reviews. Follow up with a phone call to the appropriate editor to make sure he or she received it and to check if additional information is needed. Continue to focus your marketing to posting articles in high traffic blogs. Journalists often go to web sites to find their next story. Here are some useful links: (free) (free)

4) Network. Build a community of peers and readers and be an active part of that community.

These are all vital elements of developing an Internet presence, but networking is in my opinion the most critical. Word of mouth is still the number one best way to sell your book even if “word of mouth” takes on a different form of communication. The Internet is overflowing with groups that bring authors and readers together. Don’t limit yourself to one or two groups. Social networks, forums, critique groups, and professional writers’ groups are key to today’s Internet marking. Many sites will allow members to create a profile page that offers the capability to post book covers, the author’s photographs, bios, book trailers, and blogs. Some groups also include forums for the exchange of information and ideas. They’re a great way to meet others who have similar interests and will often lead to many positive connections.

The interactions we have with one another are the cornerstones of relationships. Therefore, the key to success in these groups is to give as much as you receive. Make it a point to respond not only to the messages posted on your page, but get in the habit of interacting with the other members via their posts. Get involved in group discussions whether they are related to writing/publishing or not. Few authors have the luxury of writing full-time which means they work outside the home and often are highly skilled in other areas of expertise. Share your know-how, when applicable, with others. Members will support fellow members they have come to know. I belong to a number of author/reader groups and have found each through links that members from other sites have shared or invited me into. In return, I invite them into my groups and also pay it forward. Eventually your base of contacts will grow into a wonderfully diverse set of cyber friends. After a while, you’ll start seeing familiar faces at the different sites who by now have met new contacts for you to contact.

The important thing to remember is that the results of your self-promotion won't be apparent right away. It takes time to build connections, but regardless of where you are in the writing process, the sooner you start building a network, the better.

In a recent interview, I was asked what, if anything, I plan to change about the strategies I used to promote "Silenced Cry" as I prepare to promote "The Devil Can Wait." I thought about it for a minute. My answer is: no change, just more of everything.

I’m doing more locally to promote my books through talks and signings, but my primary focus continues to be Internet promotions. In the months between book launches, I've created a wider network of contacts and attracted a readership. They in turn have helped to spread the word of mouth. Last year I conducted my own virtual book tour which helped to give me some great exposure to new target audiences. This year, I plan to conduct a virtual book tour in December with the help of a virtual book tour company.

The first of several Internet events happened yesterday -- a live interview on Blog Talk Radio "I Just Finished." The show, "Coffee with an Author" is hosted by Naomi Giroux and features a new author every Monday. I didn't know what questions she was going to ask, but I kept telling myself that no one knows the book or my writing journey better than I and thinking of the interview in those terms made it easier to do. But seriously, any worries I might have had quickly disappeard the minute Naomi and I started to chat. It was a wonderful experience I would gladly recomment to any author who wants to promote their book. If you have an hour to kill and are up to it, please give it a listen.

This link will take you directly to the segment:

My second announcement is that the book cover of "The Devil Can Wait" is now featured as cover of the week on the Erin Aislinn site. It and the other covers featured during the month of November will be eligible for a vote for cover of the month throughout December. So mark your calendars because all who vote will be eligible to receive a free copy of "The Devil Can Wait."

The book cover was designed by Jennifer Adams-Valdez , and fellow author and graphic designer, Joe Bright. The cover will be eligible for a cover of the month vote throughout December.

Marta Stephens writes crime mystery/suspense.

THE DEVIL CAN WAIT - November 3, 2008, BeWrite Books (UK)
Honorable Mention, 2008 New York Book Festival
Top Ten, 2007 Preditors and Editors Reader Poll (mystery)


Joylene Nowell Butler said...

You're a wonderful writer, Marta. And sharing your knowledge is a gracious act. I'm using your experience as a recipe for my own promotion. Thanks for making it less scary.

Kim Smith said...

Thank you for such great insight into the promotion part of book creation. I know I will refer to this over and over.

Marta Stephens said...

Hi Joylene and Kim. Glad to know this was helpful.

You'll find six such articles on my website. Just go to and look in the "Articles" link. :)

Marilyn Meredith a.k.a. F. M. Meredith said...

I'm so tickled that you've got the second book out and do hope that all of your promotion (great tips, by the way)truly pays off for you and your book.


Marta Stephens said...

Hi Marily!! I'm tickled that you're tickle, my friend. I think the biggest, most exciting difference this time around is the local attention this book is drawing. I just updated my website and although I still have a few events pending, I have more than enough to keep me busy into 2009!!

Thanks for stopping by, Marilyn. It means the world to me!

Aaron Paul Lazar said...

What a whirlwind, Marta. You've been one busy lady. Fantastic tips, as always. Keep 'em coming!

s.w. vaughn said...

Great points, Marta! This is a good basic plan for anyone who's got a book to promote. You are one savvy lady!

Congrats on the book cover nomination! :-)