Promotional Pointers

June 18, 2014 by Chris Kersey


Your manuscript is published and your book is available for purchase. Now you are faced with the task of finding buyers around the globe to take notice. This activity takes time, creativity, prayer, expense, and some courage.

Give Back to the Community

One hundred copies of your book are easily given away once you’ve decided on your target audience. Church groups, schools, friends and relatives are on most authors’ lists but I was also able to donate my novel, Death on the Needle to first, second, and third place winners in triathlons. Depending on your content you can do the same, choosing events suited to your book.

Look at a list of service groups in your area and see the activities they fund. Most competitions or fundraisers in your city are looking for donations. A signed copy of a book is special award. Your donation to someone being recognized by one of the clubs will go a long way for word of mouth endorsement with club members as well as the friends and families of the recipients.

This form of promotion may lead to newspaper coverage, perhaps not exclusive to your book but you will be mentioned in conjunction with the service club activity. In my particular case I was blessed with coverage in a half page news article because of my donation.

During the month of May I donated 100% of the royalties from Kindle and Kobo sales to the charity noted on my novel’s dedication page. The donation commemorated the one year anniversary of my niece Emma’s passing and I wanted to donate to building Emma’s Houses. By doing this, people shared the information about my novel with over 2,500 folks. These are people I haven’t met and probably never will but because I supported a good cause people were thrilled to share the info about my book on behalf of children in Uganda and Zimbabwe.

Here is a word of caution. Make sure you buy enough author copies. I only ordered one hundred copies and that was a mistake. Each time I speak, listeners are eager to buy my book when my speech is done. They would like a signed copy. Sadly, I have to direct them to my website which means I don’t make a big profit and I can’t sign the copy they receive. I regret this poor decision.

Talk to Strangers (or at least, give them your business card)

A very cost effective way to promote your book is making a business card. The card is the initial important introduction giving a variety of people the means to find out more. At your website, potential readers can really connect with your book.

My first order was for two hundred fifty but I’m already ordering more. Every day I share my novel with people by simply handing them a card. Today it was a former student, then a real estate broker. Yesterday it was my chiropractor and my dental staff. Very few words need to be exchanged so you are not wasting their valuable time at their workplace. They are interested but most don’t want to be engaged in a long explanation of your project.

Even in my travels, I have found that people who don’t know me will accept the card. You can leave it with a cashier or anyone who crosses your path. I’ve walked past individuals in coffee shops who are reading a novel and said, “I think you might enjoy this, I see you like________.”

Many times I have left my card in silence on a desk or at a restaurant with my tip money (scroll down to see a sample of the card which shows the book cover and website).

Note: It is important to have your website ready so you can print it on your business card. A visitor to the site can purchase your book or find out where it can be purchased. You should be thinking about your website well in advance of your book publication so you are ready to “take off”.

When the book went to the editor I signed with Go-Daddy and claimed my website name. There are free sites that give you step by step instructions for creating your pages. Others collect a fee but provide very good technical help. I will share more on this item in a future blog.

Consider a Promotional Tour

Although your promotion needs are unique to your book, my experiences promoting my novel abroad may give you an idea or two. A large chunk of Death on the Needle takes place on the island of Rarotonga, so once my book was published I blitzed all the schools in my target area with emails. I arranged a trip down there, sent my event poster and volunteered to drop by with a signed copy for the school along with a few Character Building posters. I heard back quickly from both High Schools and elementary schools and set up convenient days to drop by.

Next I made a lanyard to introduce myself without speaking. My lanyard was red covered with the word Canada in white. Hanging from the lanyard were two laminated business cards which immediately identified my project and this made me, someone off the street, look official. This worked particularly well when I entered a building and had to go through their reception desk.

With the lanyard around my neck I visited libraries, museums and locally owned bookshops donating signed copies. At one local bookshop I offered the owner a few copies and left him to assign the price based on the current internet prices along with a poster. I was thrilled that he posted my book poster above his cash register with the store’s price. You can also tell the proprietor that this information can be added to your website. I have found bookshop owners happy to have the promotion.

Get Creative with Social Media

Set up a Facebook page where you can share your promotional tours, ask viewers questions, post your book trailer, etc. When your friends share your posts, the possibilities are endless. Your book title can receive attention around the world.

Since Death on the Needle is fiction, my Facebook page is a reflection of my main character. Jackson Phelps interacts with his readers by posting questions or commenting on sporting events and equipment. My character, Jackson, will continue in a mystery series so I will have a busy Facebook page for years to come, Lord willing.

Finally, my Book Trailer has been posted on Youtube but you can access it through my Facebook page and on my website. This is definitely worth the money. I have spoken to teachers and pastors who use this medium to introduce a book to a study group. You can profit from a book trailer regardless of the genre. It is a valuable promotional tool.

Through Jackson Phelps’ Facebook link to the trailer, I have had over five hundred and eighty views. I am hoping the viewers were teachers using the Book trailer to hook students.

Word Alive Press will make a Book trailer for $699.00 and you’ll be on your way. It can be shown at churches or even at flea markets to capture audience attention. A picture is worth a thousand words so a book trailer is worth every penny.

Treat Your Book Like a Business

An extraordinary opportunity has presented itself this week. The local university was looking for small businesses wanting help with e-marketing, and I got in touch with them. I received an email saying I had been assigned a group of students from Admin 4937 to work on developing an e-marketing plan for my book. I meet with them this week to begin strategies. I am looking forward to sharing their ideas for promotion on this blog in the future.

As my publishing adventure continues, I will be happy to share the good and the bad points of promotion. I live on a Point jutting out into Lake Superior where ideas grow hence the title Promotion Pointers.

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About this Contributor

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Chris Kersey, M.Ed. OCT lives on the beautiful shores of Lake Superior. Earning a master’s degree in curriculum implementation from the University of Western Ontario convinced Chris that exemplary mentors and role models are the best way to effect positive change in young people. The Jackson Phelps series is based on this belief, blended with Chris’s love of travel, sports, and nature. The first installment in the series, Death on the Needle, takes place on the Pacific island of Rarotonga, where triathlete Jackson Phelps stumbles upon a dangerous secret society that threatens to unravel his entire world.
Learn more about Chris Kersey and the Jackson Phelps series:
Jackson Phelps’ Facebook
Chris Kersey Books