I’ll admit it: I enjoy marketing my books. For me, thinking up fresh ways to get the word out about my novels is almost as much fun as creating the story and the characters.
The party lasted three days, and included video clips from the authors who endorsed my novel welcoming people to my party -- clips that in themselves ended up being a fantastic marketing tool. (Imagine a #1 bestselling author wishing me well and saying how much he loved my book!) Other video clips are just for fun -- a montage of authors (including another #1 bestseller) on what their characters would think of my novel.
I started planning the party a year in advance, lining up Penguin swag from my publisher, Penguin (the book is set in Antarctica, so items featuring the Penguin logo were particularly appropriate), and traveling to conferences, where I filmed most of the author video clips.
2,700 people visited the website during the party, and 400 posted comments in the guest book for a chance to win prizes. The online party was a terrific way to launch my first novel, and allowed me to reach a far larger audience than if the party had taken place in the real world. (Just think of the catering costs!)
I began marketing plans for my second novel, , even earlier, before I wrote the book. The story takes place at an active volcano in Northern Patagonia, Chile. Because my publisher bought the novel before it was written, I was able to travel to the volcano for onsite research.
As I was planning the trip, I thought about how I could use my research adventure to publicize the novel. I bought a bright red raincoat, knowing that in photos, the red color would stand out.
During the trip, I loaded up on authentic Chilean handicrafts to give as promotions and gifts. I also brought back 20 pounds of Chaiten obsidian that I collected from a stream bed less than a mile from the volcano, some of which I had made into jewelry to give away as prizes.
When the editors of heard about my trip, they offered to publish what turned out to be a fantastic two-page spread with photos timed to when my novel released. And my local newspaper, , ran a about my research adventure. "Local woman writes novel" isn't newsworthy, but "Local woman visits active volcano to research novel" certainly is!
Of course these marketing ideas won't work for every author, because every book and author is unique. But it's that same uniqueness that makes marketing a novel so much fun. The key is to find the things that make your book special, and capitalize on those to get the word out.
I'm currently writing an original novel based on a popular Fox/AMC detective series. Unlike my first two books, this novel won't need a big marketing push from me, since the show already has millions of fans. That said, I do have a few ideas . . .
Photo by Robert Bruce
Detroit native Karen Dionne is the internationally published author of an environmental thriller about an erupting volcano, a missing researcher, and a radical scheme to end global warming. Karen's first science thriller, was nominated by as Best First Mystery of 2008. has been published in Germany and the Czech Republic, and both novels are available in audio from . Her short story, "Calling the Shots," appears in the anthology edited by Lee Child.
Karen is cofounder of the online writers community , and organizes the held in New York City every year. She is a member of Sisters in Crime, Mystery Writers of America, and the International Thriller Writers, where she serves on the board of directors as Vice President, Technology.
Karen blogs at and has written about the publishing industry from an author's perspective for . She also reviews for .