Monday, March 9, 2009

Self-Promotion & the Extroverted Writer

My friend Ishbel Moore, who will be guest blogging with us on April 11, is fearless when it comes to promotion. The writer of nine published YA books teaches several writing classes, and has appeared at teachers’ conferences to promote her books. She launched each of her novels by doing a book reading at our local independent bookstore, remaining calm, cool and collected the entire time.

Ishbel is my hero.

For extraverted writers like Ishbel, or for those who have overcome their reserve, getting your name out there doesn’t mean you have to stick exclusively to the Internet. Judith B. Glad ( says you can start promoting yourself with local media.

“I conned TV and radio stations into giving me interviews, sat in coffee shops and showed off my books, appeared at a couple of events… They all worked insofar that they sold a few books right then. But they also had a long term result because they kept my name out where potential readers would see it.”

Toronto based science fiction author Robert J. Sawyer ( has done dozens of radio, TV and print interviews. Check out his website for a wealth of promotion ideas. He believes that for maximum exposure, writers should direct their promotional efforts at the media:

“Most authors aim their promotional efforts directly at readers… you simply can't reach enough of them on your own to make a difference… your publicity efforts should be aimed at the media…. Hit them all, and hit them often: promotion is cumulative. I've often had producers call me and say, "We've got a thick file on you; I guess it's time we did something."”

Some authors are great at promoting themselves through the media. The day before Valentine’s Day, Winnipeg author Elizabeth Thornton ( was interviewed on my local CBC morning show. She answered some of the usual questions about being a romance author, but she also had a chance to talk about her newest release “The Runaway McBride”. She gave a brief synopsis of the story and mentioned that it was part of a three book series. The morning host announced her website address on the air and gave away an autographed copy of her book. Great promotion and it likely didn’t cost her a dime. She just had to have enough chutzpah to speak live on air.

As I mentioned in last week’s post, I attended the 2008 EPIC conference ( and went to a workshop entitled “Promotion: You want me to do What?” Sherry Wille ( and Susanne Marie Knight ( presented the extravert/introvert sides of promotion, with Sherry as the extravert. Sherry is a big believer in book signings, and has requested, and received, permission to hold book signings in independent bookstores, coffee shops, donut shops, dress stores, lingerie stores (which she says are great for erotica authors), wineries and Christmas stores. She says it’s amazing how many people are happy to host a signing if they are asked. The worst they can say is no.

The advantage of this kind of promotion is that the cost is usually low. For instance, she says renting a booth at a craft fair costs between $15 and $100, less, and more fun, if you share the cost with another writer. At store signings she gives away a gift certificate from that store as a prize. At independent bookstores she negotiates a price, usually splitting the profits on the sales of her book.

Sherry has even had friends agree to host ‘book parties’ in their homes. These parties are like old fashioned Tupperware parties, without the plastic. The hostess invites a number of her friends and the author brings her books. With any luck, sales ensue. The only cost is a door prize and a special gift for the hostess.

Sherry says that readers like nothing better than to say they have met the author. They enjoy autographed and personalized copies of books, which become prized possessions. She says it is great fun to meet the people who like your books. When a reader tells you how much they enjoyed your book, the feeling is beyond compare.

There are many ways for both introverts and extraverts to promote their books. Pick the ones that suit your personality and budget and have fun with them.

And don’t forget to look for my book “Till September” at Please sign the guestbook on my website at to be eligible to win a download copy of “Till September”. I will make a random drawing for the prize on March 15, 2009. Thank you very much!

How do you promote your books? Do you consider yourself an introvert or an extravert? Should writers published in ebook format promote differently from writers published in print?


Captain Hook said...

Well, I'm not at the promotion phase yet of my career (still working on edits), but like I said in response to the post on introverts - shy doesn't exist in my world :) When the time comes, I'm coming back to this post and using all the ideas you listed.

Anita Mae Draper said...

Jana, I absolutely love this post!

Jana Richards said...

Captain Hook, here's hoping the time to use those promotion ideas comes very soon for you. Good luck!

We ebook and small press writers have no choice but to learn about methods of self-promotion. Our publishers have great websites and they make our books available on many online bookstores, including Fictionwise and Amazon, but there is simply not the budget to promote each individual writer. So you have to learn to blow your own horn a little.

Anita, I'm glad you enjoyed the post. Even if you are published by some of the bigger houses like Harlequin, it doesn't hurt to learn how to get your name out there.


Janet C. said...

Great post, Jana. Nothing to promote as of right now, but you would never know that for all I talk about Lady Bells :)

I'm not sure if I've shared this website with you, but I know I've mentioned it here before. I've browsed over there and it looks like a wealth of information.

Like Cap't Hook, I'm going to come back to this post when it's my turn.

Great cover - and a huge congratulations on the release of "Till Summer". Good luck with your promotion (I think it's time for a guest blog on Romancing the Blog).


Jana Richards said...

Hi Janet,
You mentioned the shrinking violet site and I've been meaning to check it out, but haven't done so yet. Maybe there'll be some good ideas for me there.

Thanks for the congratulations. I love the cover too and I just want to give a shout out to fellow Awe Struck author Delle Jacobs ( who designed the cover for me. Thanks Delle!


Karen said...

Hey Jana.
I could have sworn I posted a comment earlier, thank goodness I checked in.

Great cover for Till September! I love it.

When I'm published I too am coming back to reread you're posts. You've included a lot of great information for us to ponder.

Anita Mae Draper said...

Hey Jana, your list has stayed with me throughout the day.

I know you can book entertainers for home parties when they have an open night between gigs but I never thought about doing something similar for authors. It brings a whole new personal dimension to book signings.

I'm so glad we have this blog. This is the type of info I need to keep on hand and this way, it's so easy.

Thank you Jana.

PS - Your book cover is very striking.

connie said...

Jana thanks for a lot of great ideas

Hazel said...

I'm a day late with my comment, but I want to add my thanks for an article jam-packed with good ideas. Definitely for future reference in my life, since I'm not even at the "you want me to do what?" stage. But I know when the day comes I will have to bite the bullet. (I cringed at the thought of being interviewed by the local paper when I came 2nd in the SWG short ms competition, but I did get through it)

There was an excellent session at the SWG conference last fall on promotion. Presenter was Tony Bidulka, and he made it clear that you can't expect your publisher to do it all or even initiate promotional activities (which came as a shock to him when he was first starting out with his Russell Quant mysteries). He has a version of his presentation in the current issue of freeLance.

Also, Jana, I'm going to hop right over and get into the draw for your book. Love the look, and I want in even if the idea of e-books is strange and a little intimidating. I need to hear more promotion to get me motivated as a reader. Hint, hint for a future post!