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You’re Published! Now How Do You Tell The Readers?

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The first thing you must do is quit thinking like a writer and start thinking like a reader. That shouldn’t be a problem, because you are one. If you don’t enjoy reading, you can’t write something that someone else enjoys reading. So, when you read, how do you choose what to read?

My wife can walk into a bookstore, look at the cover blurb of a book, conclude “I’ll like this,” and buy it. Then she’ll read it and be correct. Every time.

I almost never do this. For me, it’s word of mouth. It’s book reviews. A good reviewer tells me enough to decide if I want to buy the book. I’ve rarely been led astray by a reviewer.

I suspect that, if you look at your own reading habits, you’re like me. You find new authors to read based on book reviews. Once you find one you really like, you buy everything else he/she has written and snatch up every new one as it comes out.

So there are your goals. Number one, write well enough to keep those readers coming back. Number two, get those reviewers to say “Hey, this author writes very well.” Meaning, contact those reviewers.

You want to be reviewed as much as possible. Walk into any bookstore, log onto any e-publisher site, or visit Amazon or Barnes & Noble. Guess what you’ll see? A whole lot of books. If one of them happens to be yours, how will people notice it?

Your publisher will market your book, of course, but they market all their titles equally. What you want is for a potential reader to walk into that shop or log onto that site with your name and title already in his or her head.

Your publisher will submit your book to reviewers. I don’t know about the quantity, but reviews (even negative ones) generate sales. Work with your publisher to ensure everyone is covered. Also make sure you don’t both send the same book to the same place because that’s just plain embarrassing.

If you’ll swing by http://freereads.topcities.com/bookreview.html you’ll find a list of book review and author interview sites. Mostly electronic but a good print selection as well. At this writing there are 111 of them. When your book hits the shelves, if not sooner, visit every dang one of them. Write to everybody and see what happens. It’ll take you about ten hours.

Next, work the local media. Newspapers, radio, and signings at local bookstores. Once that’s generated enough interest — and again I assume your novel delivers the goods — you can take a shot at national coverage.

My next suggestion involves writing contests. I don’t know about you, but I usually buy every book on the Booker Prize Short List. Likewise, the first ebook I ever read was an EPPIE winner. I don’t know how many people do the same, but certainly more than enough to justify the effort. Some contests even offer cash prizes.

It stands to reason that some awards are more prestigious than others. Winning “Bubba’s Book Award” probably won’t help sales.

Entering contests is something that you should coordinate with your publisher. Some contests don’t allow author entries, and certainly you don’t both want to enter the same book. If there’s an entry fee, be realistic about your chances of winning, and consider how many sales you must generate to pay that entry fee.

I keep a small but growing list of book contests at contests at http://freereads.topcities.com/writingcontests.html

I also believe that anyone selling anything should have, at the very least, a free website. As I started with ebooks, I consider it mandatory. As an author, of course I also write a newsletter.

To receive my article on the strategy involved in setting up your website, send a blank email to websitenewsletter@sendfree.com.

To receive my article on the mechanics of it, send a blank email to website@sendfree.com.

Michael LaRocca’s website at http://www.chinarice.org was
chosen by WRITER’S DIGEST as one of The 101 Best Websites For
Writers in 2001 and 2002. He published two novels in 2002 and has
two more scheduled for publication in 2004. He also works as an
editor for an e-publisher. He teaches English at a university in
Shaoxing, Zhejiang Province, China, and publishes the free weekly
newsletter Mad About Books.

You’re Published! Now How Do You Tell The Readers?
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About Michael LaRocca
Michael LaRocca's website at http://www.chinarice.org was chosen by WRITER'S DIGEST as one of The 101 Best Websites For Writers in 2001 and 2002. He published two novels in 2002 and has two more scheduled for publication in 2004. He also works as an editor for an e-publisher. He teaches English at a university in Shaoxing, Zhejiang Province, China, and publishes the free weekly newsletter Mad About Books. WebProNews Writer
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