Friday, 1 July 2011

Open House Day 32 - S L Schmitz

Don’t Get Stuck in a Promotional Rut

Thank you so much to Steve Lockley for opening up the doors of Casa de Lockley de Blog today! My name is S.L. Schmitz, and I wanted to share with you some interesting PR tips and promotional opportunities that I have found to be distinctly unique, fresh, and motivational. I like to focus on marketing strategies that are cheap to implement, and require little or no start up beyond a few emails or phone calls, so if that is something you are interested in, read on!

First of all, let me start off by assuring new writers in the field that YES, you can organize your own blog tour without spending a dime. There is no need to spend several hundred dollars to pay someone to do what you can do all by yourself - it will take time and coordination, and it will require you to be able to discern the differences between sites that are a good fit for your genre, but it also brings you closer into the world of people out there who are really buying books and talking up favorite authors. There are numerous ways to get a list of potential blog sites for your tour, but I think the fastest and most obvious way is to go to the website of one of your favorite writers or bloggers. It is very common for people to have a list of ‘recommended sites’ somewhere on their site; start drilling through the list. Once you’ve identified a blogger that you think might have potential, drill through their list as well (see what I said about time-consuming?). Your goal is to come up with between 10-15 bloggers and/or reviewers whom you feel are a good match with your writing. By visiting each site, even for just a minute or two, you are able to eliminate those that do not meet your criteria (ie: too religious, too much YA, too much erotica, etc.). I keep an ongoing list of favorite sites in a purple moleskin book, and update it as I go. I include the URL, the name of the site and the site owner, as well as the email for contacting them. Then I start contacting them! Blog tours usually last anywhere from 10-30 days, so make sure that you include your information, your website, and a tour date request as part of your information. Most people are really gracious, and it should be fairly simply to agree on a date when you can blog about your latest novel!

OK – that was an obvious one. What about some of the newer, up-and-coming promotional opportunities out there? Nobody, and I mean nobody, is as organized and energized as the Young Adult and Romance community of readers and bloggers. These people are rabid to hear about new novels and new authors, and they have proven buying power! So what is that makes their promotional community different? Here are a few examples:

1. They organize blog hops: And I’m not talking about just a few authors – the one completed recently by was called “Blog Tour de Troops” and it received international attention because over 35 authors donated an e-book each and every time a unique comment was left on their blog – one ebook for the commenter, and one ebook for a member of the troops. In addition, the blog tour was gratitude based, and there were Kindles being donated to the troops. Readers ‘hopped’ from blog to blog via a daisy chain of connections and links; by the time this tour was completed over Memorial Day weekend, over 10,000 ebooks and 7 Kindles were donated. Other blog hop tours have been the “Blog Tour de Force” and the upcoming “Menage a Blog” - truly an amazing cross-promotional opportunity for authors to get their books before the eyes of thousands of viewers.

2. They organize “Bestseller for a Day”: this is another brainstorm by the Authors participate in a bootcamp to prepare them for their “big day” On the announced date, several dozen book reviewers and bloggers all around the net bandwagon around one author and one novel. Everyone who sees the postings is encouraged to buy that book on THAT day, thus driving the book high into the Kindle rankings.

3. They organize monthly “book clubs”: I came upon an online culture magazine called “The Nervous Breakdown” ( and was impressed by their Paypal-directed monthly book club. Yes, this is a for-profit venture where everybody wins. As the reader, you authorize them to charge a monthly dollar amount to your Paypal account; in exchange, you get hot-off-the-press new releases, and sometimes even get ARCs, to discuss and review among the other book club members. Authors can network with the site to be included in the monthly offerings. Another version of this book club involves the site coordinator gathering a list of people interested in participating in a book club tour. The coordinator signs and dates a comment about the chosen novel, and then sends it to the next person to read and comment on it. The books keeps getting passed on down the list via the mail until everyone has had a chance to view it, then it comes back ‘home’ to the original address. While it travels, people are posting and talking about it, just like a regular book club.

4. Contests only work if people know about them – Have you ever tried to promote a giveaway, only to have very few entrants? The fine folks at Book Reader Addicts on Facebook just completed their 30-day celebration of Indie Authors. Every day for the month of June 2011, a shout-out was posted informing the almost 3500 fans of the site the names of several softcover and e-books which they could win that day. There was always a small form of criteria that the fans had to complete in order to be eligible to win the book; this sometimes involved going to the author’s site and “liking” it, as well as leaving a comment as your “entry”. Other times, fans were encouraged to go on Amazon and “like” the book and tags, or go to a publisher’s site and “like” them with a nice comment about the author. It is up to the author to follow through on the promise of delivering the book to the winner once they have been notified by the site owners, and since the fans are international it is perfectly OK to deliver either ebooks or softcover. Win for everyone!

5. Shout Outs with a Goal - A small but powerful new Facebook and Twitter post has been catching on lately. Oh, we’ve all shared or re-tweeted before when something catches our eye, but this is author-specific. One of the popular bloggers/reviewers will post the name of an author and encourage all of their fans to go to that site RIGHT NOW and like them. A typical post might go something like this: “So-and-so is a brand new author, and we just love her new book! Everybody help her out so we can get her author page over 200 likes before the end of today!” I have seen this work over and over again – authors get all kinds of new people drawn to their site, eager and waiting for novel information. How cool is that?

It doesn’t matter what genre your book is – these ideas work across the spectrum. I encourage you to either organize or participate in at least one of these kind of grass-roots publicity campaigns; these ideas require no money except maybe postage, so financially there is nothing to lose. If you are organized and have the drive to get to the top of the best sellers lists, these are the kind of word-of-mouth PR campaigns that can lead you on your road to happy book sales! Good luck!

Let It Bleed is available in both E-book and soft cover through Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Smashwords. S.L. Schmitz lives in North Carolina, and spends her days chasing a five-year old and keeping 4 felines happy. Please visit her website at

No comments:

Post a Comment