In the present topsy-turvy literary world, getting a book out into the world has become a major career in itself. For well-known authors, the first months after their books’ released, there are television interviews on shows like Jon Stewart or Good Morning America and radio shows like Terry Gross’s Fresh Air on NPR. Print reviews of their books are featured in national newspapers and magazines and their book tours include book signings and speeches to regional and national audiences.
But for regular writers like me, the publicity path is quite different. Publishers don’t have budgets to promote unknowns. Most books now are sold through some type of word-of-mouth, and the word may travel through on-line connections as well as in-person conversations. I hired a professional literary publicist, Stephanie Barko, who arranged a virtual tour, which was something new to me. In addition to arranging professional reviews of the book, Stephanie arranged on-line written interviews, guest blog spots, and online blog radio interviews for me to spread the word about Warrior Mother. Most of these events took place during the first thirty days after the book’s release and we used social media to promote them, along with the book giveaways that occurred on sites like Goodreads.
I’m finding the radio shows especially enjoyable. Recently I had a wonderful interview with Marianna Cacciatore on her organization’s show, Bread for the Journey https://breadforthejourney.org/radio/ and another interview with mother/daughter team Lisa Smith and Nancy Reid on their Happy Hour Radio Show. http://www.blogtalkradio.com/big-blend-radio Somehow they made room to discuss my book as they toured another one of the 401 national parks they plan to visit in the next couple of years.
Bookstores used to help with getting the word out by hosting author book signings, but most have given up the practice. Many people buy their books on line now and don’t frequent neighborhood bookstores as they once did. But authors are borrowing from musicians the practice of house parties, hosted by friends in their homes. When the structures of the music industry toppled a few years ago and musicians had to become entrepreneurs, the house party became a great place for performing and selling CDs. Authors are now discovering it can work well for books too.
I had my first book house party in Atlanta last week, hosted by a dear friend, and it was delightful. Though they weren’t in my demographic, the three teenagers and their family dog added much fun to the evening as we attempted to improv the book’s themes in a method I call, “Performing the Book.”
I’m also exploring another place to find book lovers – book clubs. I’ve been asking people to put me in touch with any book clubs they know about, and in a couple of weeks I’ll be meeting here in Pittsburgh with the first book club I’ve become aware of whose members have read my book.