Friday, February 7, 2014

"Writing and Cross-Promotion: What Works, What Doesn't, and Why" by Barb Caffrey

copyright 2014 Barb Caffrey

Writers often talk about effective cross-promotion, since we're always trying to get the word out about our latest books and stories. Yet what does effective cross-promotion actually consist of? And why do some promotional activities seem to work better than others?

Promotion consists of a number of things.  If you Tweet about a book – whether it's your own or someone else's – that's promotion. If you share something on Facebook, particularly if you write a little something along with your share, that, too, is promotion. Both things are easy to do, providing you have a few spare minutes a day, and could prove useful to yourself or your fellow writers.

I say "could" for a reason. No one's sure why some people's posts get read more than other people's. No one's sure why a book takes off, either, though a number of articles have surfaced recently purporting to tell if a book will be successful or not.

But one thing is certain: if you don't let anyone know about your book, you have no chance to sell any copies. And networking with other writers via Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and other social media sites can make the difference between your book sinking like a stone or getting enough traction that readers can actually find you.

There are other ways to get your name before the public.

·      Writing a blog helps, even if very few people tend to read it, because you may be asked to submit guest blogs for other writers in the process. (As is the case right now.) 

·      Writing book reviews can help, too, because again, you're getting your name before the readers – perhaps just the readers your own book needs to become successful (or at least well-read). 

·      Going to writers' blogs and leaving comments on something that interested you can sometimes help, providing you're polite. 

·      Finally, you can exchange links with other writers and/or Web sites, which again may help get your name before a few more readers . . . and as you never know which segment of the population you really need to discover your book, these could be the readers you've been looking for.

Going to a convention, if you have something of your own to sell, is also a promotional experience. And even if you don’t, if you’re out there networking, that’s still considered promotion.
There are many other ways to promote yourself, mind you – most of them taking money I do not have. But the methods of promotion I've mentioned probably aren't out of anyone's financial reach. Granted, they take time, planning, and hard work – but I'm guessing that if you're reading this blog, you're not averse to any of these things.

Now, what’s not considered promotion?  Going to unrelated websites and putting up a bunch of links to your work — spamming them, in short — is something you should never, ever do. It's completely unprofessional, not to mention extremely counterproductive, and will get you a bad name faster than just about anything else.

In fact, doing something like this is so damaging, you could think of this as anti-motion rather than promotion.

Another thing that's not a good idea from a promotional standpoint is something I’ve only rarely seen. It's so unprofessional, I hesitate to mention it – but as we were all new writers once, and didn't know all the things then we know now, perhaps it's necessary.

To wit: When someone mentions inside a review that his work is better than the work that’s supposed to be under discussion, that’s really bad form. So don't do it.

Promotion is many things, but it’s not supposed to be either unprofessional or “spammy.”  What you’re trying to do is get the word out, that’s all — which is why if you’re talking about your favorite authors, you're actually promoting them.

So if you have friends whose work you admire — and if they, too, are on Facebook, Twitter, or any number of other social media sites — you can help to promote them, providing you’re not being obnoxious about it.

All I know is this: It's important to get the word out as many times as you possibly can. But you need to be tactical, you need to be smart, and most of all, you need to take the long view. Because as your book wasn't written overnight, you're not likely to be a best-seller overnight, either.


Web site: Barb Caffrey's Blog (AKA Elfyverse)
BARB CAFFREY is a writer, editor and musician from the Midwest. Her humorous fantasy novel, ELFY, will be published in 2014 by Twilight Times Books, and her story "At the Crossroads" will appear in the 2014 anthology STARS OF DARKOVER. Previous stories and poems have appeared in BEDLAM'S EDGE (with late husband Michael B. Caffrey), HOW BEER SAVED THE WORLD, the BEARING NORTH anthology, the Written Word online magazine, Joyful Online, the Midwest Literary Magazine, and at e-Quill Publishing. Barb has edited for Masterpiece Comics, the Written Word,, is on the editorial board of Twilight Times Books and completed a copy-editing internship at the sports Web site Bleacher Report. She reviews books for Shiny Book Review and, more occasionally, at for their Vine program. And once upon a time, she was an opinion columnist and arts and entertainment reporter for both the Daily Nebraskan and the University of Wisconsin-Parkside Ranger News; additional op-eds were published by the Racine Labor Paper and by the Racine Journal-Times (under the previous married name). is the widow of writer and editor par excellence Michael B. Caffrey (1958-2004), who was also her frequent co-writer.  He completed one novel, MAVERICK, LIEUTENANT, in his lifetime, and had nearly completed a second, MINIATURES; both are currently being edited and revised for publication based on Michael’s notes. One of Michael’s stories in his Adventures of Joey Maverick series, “A Dark and Stormy Night,” was first published by the Written Word in 2005, reprinted at e-Quill Publishing in 2010, and is now available at Amazon. “On Westmount Station,” the second story in the Adventures of Joey Maverick, was published by e-Quill Publishing in 2011 and is also available at Amazon.  Michael’s three fantasy stories about Princess Columba and her remarkable cat-familiar were published in September 2010 by e-Quill Publishing; the fourth, incomplete story will be completed by Barb as soon as circumstances permit.

Due to Barb amicably ending her professional relationship with e-Quill Publishing in mid-2012, Michael’s Columba stories are currently unavailable. Barb plans to bring these stories back out ASAP, as she’s vowed that Michael’s work — his words — will live on as long as there are people to read them.

She follows politics, loves sports, watches far too much reality TV and is mystified by the “Maury” show. What all this says about her is anyone’s guess.

Find her at Elfyverse (AKA "Barb Caffrey's Blog") for discussions of all and sundry, or at Shiny Book Review. Or send her an e-mail at barbcaffrey (all one word) AT yahoo DOT com – she'll get back to you.


Anonymous said...

Thanks, Aaron, for the opportunity . . . hope my little guest blog will help a few readers out.


Cynthia said...

I don't have a book out yet, but these are useful tips to keep handy.

Anonymous said...

I'm glad you enjoyed the blog, Cynthia. Thanks for reading, and good luck with your writing!