I get asked a lot at writer's conferences about what works and what doesn't in terms of marketing. It's a great question because in this day and age of publishing the writer HAS to be his/her own biggest advocate. They have to be willing to go out there and shout about their book from the rooftops, and then hope that their shouts get picked up by a strong wind that spreads the title of the book and the name of the author from coast to coast.
These days there are so many outlets to market a book via social networking, blogs, virtual book touring, etc--it's no longer about the traditional in-store book tour. Besides, in my opinion, book tours only work well for those household name authors. Trust me. I can't tell you how many times I've sat in a bookstore behind a table and been asked where a certain book is located (and it isn't my book). It's quite a humbling experience.
So, with all of these new possibilities available to writers, what does work? Honestly, I don't really know exactly what works. I've pretty much done it all, from big contests to little contests, virtual blog tours to blogging on regular blogs, social networking, print ads, radio ads, even some TV. I write good books. I'm not the best writer out there but I know I can spin an entertaining yarn and I love doing it. So I think trying every which way to get the information about your book out there can be worthwhile.
I have to admit, though, that I sort of resent all of the marketing writers are expected to do these days. "Back in the day" a writer was a writer. I think being just "the writer" is a romantic idea... but these days, forget it. It's an antiquated idea. It is necessary to do self-promotion. A caveat to that, however, is that you can promote all day long, but if you haven't written a good book then no amount of strong wind is going to spread the word. Also, and I hate to say this, but it can go the other way, too--you may have written a wonderful book and promoted the heck out of it, and still nothing. Writing books is kind of like playing the lottery (my friend Karen MacInerney shared this idea with me, and I tend to agree). It would be nice to just write and play the lottery, but I like to think my odds are better if I do some of this self-promotion stuff.
One thing I do like to utilize as a self promtional tool are book trailers. I think that giving the reader a brief visual is a good thing. Do book trailers sell books? Again--I don't know. But I like them. And they probably don't hurt.
I'm going to give a little hint about a huge contest that I will be running starting Nov 1st. You have to get to know Nikki Sands in the Wine Lover's Mystery series and I suggest you check out all of the book trailers. If you win the contest, it will be well worth your time. Trust me. Plus, I personally love Nikki (I should!) and think reading one of the wine lover's mysteries or all of them is a good way to spend your time.
For you writers out there: What do you think works in marketing? Have you done something that just made the big difference?
For you readers: What is that makes you buy a book?