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Creating Book Buzz by KP Simmon

You’ve written a book and released it into the wild. Or…you’re heading in that direction. Marketing that book and finding ways to get it into the readers’ hands can be overwhelming and time-consuming, especially in what seems to be a highly saturated market such as this one. Whether you publish with a traditional press or choose to self-publish, authors today need to be marketing savvy and know how to create some book buzz. Indie authors are often left doing it all on their own, and traditional publishers are expecting more of their authors in this area. What are the best practices that authors need to know when it comes to marketing their book and creating book buzz? I wish we could cover it all! But I’ll try to go over some of the basics that I think every author should know about, so they can market and still have time to do what they do best: write!

First things First-Write a freaking great book. Make it the best you can make it and spend the time and money to get it edited. Seriously, spend the money to hire an editor and use their expertise. If you want to have your mom edit it because she’s the best English teacher on the planet, awesome. Do that. And then hire an editor. Your best friend is an amazing journalist and knows how to copy edit. Fantastic. Let them have a go and then hire an editor. Then revise it and edit it again. And again. And again until you know you’ve created the best literary masterpiece you can. This is the first step to excellent marketing and creating buzz around your book. Have an excellent product.

Second things Second-Marketing takes a lot of time. A lot. One of my authors said-“When you think you know how much time marketing is going to take, double that.” It’s an intense part of getting your book into readers’ hands but an important part. And you will need to find balance in your day between writing and marketing. Be disciplined and plan your day accordingly. If you work a day job to fund your writing habit, there’s no easy answer to this. You still have to work writing and marketing at the same time and have balance. Even if you hire a publicist, someone like me, you are still going to have to market. Having a publicist is not an easy out from marketing. No one can be as passionate about your title as you are. Marketing your book is not something you can ignore if you want to sell copies. It’s a must and it must start early.

·     Social Media
Oh…social media…People either hate it or love it.

* Things to remember about social media:

It’s called SOCIAL media, not SELLING media. Every tweet or status update should not be screaming “BUY MY BOOK! Hey, did you know I wrote a book? Dear people-I’m an award winning author, don’t you want to buy my book? You can get it on Amazon, Nook, Kobo, ITunes, Smashwords…did you hear? I have a book???” *No, No, and NO! You become white noise and then you’re pretty much talking to yourself or for yourself. The people who matter have tuned you out. And there goes your buzz… Readers want genuine interaction with you, as do your peers. The fastest way to turn people off is to not be genuine and sell all the time. They will unfriend or unfollow you in a heartbeat-it only takes a click. Do not give them reason to do this. Instead, be real and genuine and give them reason to retweet instead of delete. A good rule of thumb, only 10% of your tweets and statuses should be about your book. That’s not to say don’t pimp your book. You should pimp your book! BUT pimp it appropriately.

*Note-Having something everywhere in the name of platform is great-if you’re doing it well and staying disciplined to balancing time. But if you don’t do it well-not so much. Just to have a twitter or Facebook page but never update-not really helpful.
·     Blogger Interaction
-Bloggers are your best friends. Seriously, you need to reach out to them and love them and work with them. However, they do not want to be pushed on or work with authors that are overbearing. There are rules to working with bloggers and interacting with them. Don’t follow the rules=killing your buzz…

-First, read their reviewing policies before emailing them with a review request. No kidding…read them. Much like an agent wants you to research them and know what they work with and what they are looking for, bloggers work the same way. Don’t blow this off as-“She’s just an 18 year old girl…what does she know? She’s just a blogger.” That 18 year old girl can help make or break you. The blogging community is a big group but a small community. They talk and interact all over social media. You don’t need to be scared of them. They want to help authors because you are their celebrities. Your books are their addictions. However, take time to learn about them and what makes them tick.

-Be gracious and not demanding. Bloggers spend hours and hours a day to help pimp authors and books. They don’t get paid for it. They do it because they believe in you and the power of words. You want to get on their site, build relationships and rapport first. Good places for this-Twitter and Facebook of course. Follow them, like their pages and converse with them. Do not just say-“Hey, have you heard? I have a book.” Because guess what, you’re no different than everyone else talking to them then. Talk to them about things you have in common and they will follow and like your page and then you will be able to build from there. This is why creating buzz
must start early on. Working with bloggers takes time and research, but for the most part, it’s free and extremely smart. Big payoffs can come from this if you are personable and approachable. If you are closed off or demanding, payoffs will come but probably not in the way you want them.
·     Reviews
-ARCs (Advance Reading Copies) are a must as you gear up for release for most authors. Digital ARCs are fine, but try to format them into mobi and epub format. Hand out pdf files as limited as possible. Most bloggers read ARCs for review. If you want to be reviewed in time for your release, you need to approach them with plenty of time to spare. I don’t mean two weeks. I mean two months. 
Some of these bloggers are booked 4 months in advance for reviews. Their TBR piles are LONG… be respectful of that. They may say send me the ARC and I’ll try to fit it in. If you don’t see a review from them in a couple weeks or a couple of months, do not email them and ask them what their problem is. Do not go on to Goodreads and comment to them or anybody else about it. Hold it in and realize they are people with lives too. And while your title is your newest child to your world, it is not the same for them. Also, if they do review it, they are doing you a favor. Keep that in mind and be gracious. And if you get a negative review? Walk away and say nothing. Don’t talk about it on social media. Don’t email the reviewer or comment. Say nothing. Fastest way to kill some of your book buzz? Be rude to a blogger or put them in an awkward position.
·    Competitive Titles
-Know your competitive titles. So many authors forget about this step. This is something you should start even in the querying or writing process to be honest. Knowing what titles are similar to yours, and therefore your competition, lets you know what you are up against, but also where you can do some pretty amazing marketing.

-Stalk these titles. If they did a blog tour-find out which blogs took part and approach them. You already know they like your type of book. Half the work to creating buzz is then done for you.

-What marketing tools did these titles use? Are any of them appropriate for you? Do you have any new ideas they didn’t think about and that can set you and your title apart? Use it all!
·    Pre-release buzz
-Bloggers will be extremely useful for this. Things you can do to create prebuzz:

-Quote pics: be careful of copyright-use stock photos. Don’t just grab off of the internet anything you can see. You’re mad when they pirate your book. Don’t pirate someone else. Release one about every other week and try to get bloggers to help you reveal these teasers leading up to and during release.

-Excerpt reveals: 750-1000 words only unless you are doing a massive chapter reveal. In regards to this kind of smaller excerpt reveal, though, be careful with this. Excerpts should give them just a taste and keep them wanting more. Crassly, I explain this like a good sex scene. You need foreplay. Same thing in prebuzz-excerpts are a form of the book foreplay. These should be released on the other every other weeks from the teasers.

-Interviews: Get a few other authors and bloggers to feature you leading up to the release and not just after the release.

-Giveaways: Don’t be afraid to give your book away some. Goodreads holds fantastic giveaways for authors if you have a print copy. You can set that up through your author page. Bloggers and media sites will do giveaways as well.

**Special note-all of these things are great, but you need to be strategic in your placement. Try to get people and places with different followings than you have to feature these things. After they reveal, then put it up on your own site and social media.**

-Pre-release buzz should start a minimum of 2 months before the release. Plan accordingly! To start much later is to hurt your book buzz before it’s even started.
·    Importance of Writing Community in Terms of Marketing
-This support group can often become the largest group of marketers for you. Use them, but don’t abuse them. There must be give and take in any relationship. These relationships are no different. Ask them to post on their sites on your release day in exchange for you doing the same thing for them. Do an author interview swap with each other on the same day where you interview each other and then put it up on your sites. This shares your readership and increases your following. Pimp each other’s titles on social media. You get the picture. Your writing group can become each other’s street teams once releases come around. 
·     Blog Tours
-Not all blog tour companies are alike. Do your research. Find the one that works for you. Things to beware of:

*Companies that say, sure I can throw a blog tour together for you in two weeks. What I say to you? Run. They will get a blog tour together for you probably, but it will most likely be filled without thought to placement strategy and will have been filled on a first come, first serve basis. I would say this won’t serve you well in sales and not to expect a significant bump-which means it’s probably not going to be worth what you are paying for it.

 -You can absolutely do a tour yourself if you are organized and have the relationships with bloggers that you need to do a tour. But many authors are not prepared for the amount of time that goes into planning and executing a good blog tour. For the most part, if you choose a good and professional tour company, they will have contacts you probably won’t and that you will need.

-Contact a touring company 3-4 months in advance.  Most of the top tour companies require this to be able to get you on their calendars.

-Finally, blog tours should happen around or after release. Not months before, or even more than two weeks before. You can start a bit before the release, but buyers want immediate gratification. To do a blog tour before creates prerelease buzz, but it does not necessarily create sales around release day unless you have a pre-order set up on the retailers. If not, the reader will add it to their wish list and then maybe get around to buying it someday, or if you put it on sale. Doing a tour immediately around release or after makes it possible for buy links (unless you have preorder buttons) and results in sales. 
·    Covers
-Covers are super important. Amazingly important. I know this is an area some authors think they can skimp on or do themselves. It’s not. You could have the most amazing prize-winning manuscript. Put it behind a bad cover and you have already lost buzz and sales.

-“I know a bit about graphics and Photoshop-you should see the travel book I made for our last family vacation…for our friend’s vacation, etc…” No. There are amazing cover artists out there. Some of them specialize in specific genres. Find them and hire them. Okay Creations, PhatPuppy, The Cover Lure, Icey Books are just a small smattering of the ones out there. Another fantastic spot-Deviant Art. Look through those artists and see who does what. Do your research and then hire someone.

-Cover Reveals are a great way to create prerelease buzz. Usually you do this a few months before release date. There are many people who believe cover reveals are a waste of time. I believe differently. While the cover reveal won’t result in immediate sales because there is nothing to buy at the time, it does create excitement. It also builds rapport with the bloggers who reveal it for you. These relationships are important to foster and this is one way to do it while building recognition and excitement around your upcoming title.  

So, there it is for you. The basics to creating book buzz. Or at least what I could fit into a reasonable post for you. And since the first draft of this post was almost 4000 words, you can imagine there is always more to say on this topic. Don’t be afraid to dig and think out of the box when it comes to creating your own book buzz. I’d love to hear: what ways have you found success in creating book buzz? 

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This Post Has 5 Comments
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  2. I’ve hit the top 5 in Amazonnfree during promotions and have been in the top 50 for my category often but could definitely learn and do more with my marketing.. Thanks Kelly!

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