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Wednesday’s Work-in-Progress: Five Free & Easy Ways to Promote Your Book

(A version of this article originally appeared in The Writer magazine; it was also published in the November 2012 issue of The Practicing Writer.)

FIVE FREE AND EASY WAYS TO PROMOTE YOUR BOOK

By Erika Dreifus

It’s no secret that even the largest publishing houses aren’t providing all of the marketing and promotional support their authors might wish for these days. When you consider how many authors are working with smaller and independent presses – not to mention the increase in self-publishing afforded by low-cost technologies – it seems that everyone might benefit from some basic, budget-friendly book-promotion tips.

While promoting my short-story collection, QUIET AMERICANS, I relied on some tried-and-true techniques. I also discovered a few new tools. Here are five easy ones. They won’t consume too much of your time; even better, they’re free!

1) EMAIL SIGNATURES

If you aren’t already using the valuable real estate at the end of each and every email you send, get to it! Virtually all email programs include an option for a “signature,”one or more lines of text appended to each outgoing message. Some people include their full contact information. Others choose to share a meaningful quotation. Authors should be using it to point e-correspondents to their books, even ahead of publication.

Keep the signature within reason. I try never to exceed five lines. My current signature includes my name on the first line; the phrase “Author, QUIET AMERICANS: STORIES” on the second; and then three lines to present the URLs for my website, Twitter feed, and Facebook author page. This way, anyone interested in learning more about my writing and/or connecting with me online can do so, easily.

Remember that signature options exist elsewhere. For instance, if you participate in online forum discussions, you can customize your profile to include a signature that accompanies your forum posts.

2) ALUMNI NOTES

Chances are, your college (or graduate-school) alumni magazine will be happy to publicize news of your book’s publication. If you check the magazine’s website, you’re likely to find instructions for submitting a brief update. Check early, even if your book’s publication date is still months away. My college alumni magazine requires submissions by Oct. 15 for inclusion in the January-February issue.

Think of your “alumni” status in its broadest terms. That writing conference you attended may be delighted to share the news of your publishing success. And don’t forget about those literary journals that have published your work. They often share news about their past contributors.

3) GOODREADS AUTHOR PROGRAM AND GIVEAWAYS

Here’s something else that will be most useful if you plan ahead. Goodreads, the prominent social-networking site for readers, offers a free Author Program (www.goodreads.com/author/program). Features include prelaunch, buzz-building book giveaways that Goodreads administers on your behalf. (You – or your publisher – will have to supply the giveaway copies, but beyond that, there’s no cost.) More than 2,000 people entered the QUIET AMERICANS giveaways, which amazed me.

4) ANIMOTO

If, like me, you lack techno-confidence as well as major marketing support, you’re likely to appreciate Animoto (animoto.com) as much as I have. Animoto allows you to create your own 30-second video, thus providing a free and relatively easy way to create your own book trailer. Rely on Animoto’s stock images and music, or upload your own (or mix and match, as I did). Longer running times and additional features are available for a fee.

5) GALLEYCAT’S “COMING ATTRACTIONS” AND “NEW BOOKS”

This one also requires some advance planning). You may already know GalleyCat, the publishing-focused arm of the popular Mediabistro website. Last year, GalleyCat inaugurated a “Coming Attractions” feature and welcomed authors, publicists and editors to share relevant “New Books” details for consideration. You’ll find the basics outlined at http://bit.ly/eeLdx8.

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