As a first-time author, I was the last one to know firsthand the riggers of promotion, and, especially, the way to reviews. Writing the book was one thing, promoting it another. I’d dived in and hit cold, hard reality. No stopping in mid-air to think about it. I had to go all in.
From start to finish, it had taken10 years to bring THE LAST CADILLAC to market, and by the grace of God, I had to get out there and push that book.
I didn’t have much of a plan. I did have a good ideas from my publisher, but I had to do the legwork. With so many avenues of promotion, I didn’t know where to go. So I went everywhere. The first bright (ahem) idea was to take out an ad for my book—four months before publication—in a prestigious writing magazine. It cost $ 750 (what was I thinking?). There are a lot of good ways to spend money on promotion, but this was not one of them.
Shortly after my book was published, I dropped by the neighborhood branch of the Chicago Public Library, and gave the manager a newly minted copy for review. “Here. You’ll love it.” He was gracious. We chatted. “Get more reviews,” he advised, warmly. “Get one of the biggies if you can.”
It was too late for many of the “biggies” now that the book was published. But I could send it around to Kirkus, and I did. The review came back, and it was good. It was great!
And what did the branch manager at the library think of THE LAST CADILLAC? I was still waiting to hear. The days ticked by. No comment. I called one time, and then again, and I felt like a pest, and that’s what I was. A first-time author, A PEST. Because I had to bug people. Constantly.
I finally reached him. He said he loved the book. It’s now in the Chicago Public Library collection.
Whew. That was good news, but I still needed reviews. It was more likely to sell if someone had read it and liked it, and then said so.
I checked Amazon. Andre Agassi with his autobiography, OPEN, sat next to me on Amazon with more than 1,000 reviews.
I had in my possession a list of 800 reviewers, obtained through some research and persistence. How hard could this be, to reach out and request reviews? To sift through 800 reviewers, many of them residing in Scotland or England with a super abundance of interest in the paranormal? But I dove in and heard back, mostly from bloggers, who were courteous and accommodating. Only one declined because we didn’t have “chemistry.” To my surprise, I enjoyed the whole process of reaching other readers and authors who were promoting their own work. We shared ideas. We learned from each other.
I also gave away books, and I asked for reviews. Most readers are more than willing to do that. Thank you!
And now for a shameless pitch–How about a review? From you. On Amazon or BookBub? On your own blog? Facebook?
The promotional route is circuitous, but it does circle back to the main premise: to connect to an audience. It’s what we do when we write and publish. We want to reach readers. We want you.