Sunday, November 29, 2009

How to Peacefully and Gently Promote Your Brains Out in December




I'm somewhat of an organizational savant, and I rely heavily on lists to keep me from spinning off into the next galaxy. Here is an actual* excerpt from my rather longish Holiday To-Do List from last December:

84. Have cat's teeth cleaned
85. See about buying matching urns for the cremated remains of me and spouse
86. Vacuum coils behind fridge
87. Promote my book
88. Iron tinsel and sort in bunches of 25

Unfortunately, I only made it to item #53 last year, which involved making yet another batch of Macadamia Nut Fudge. The last pan put me under the table. When I woke up from my sugar coma, it was a whole new year!

This year, I'm promoting promotion. It's moving up my list-- way up. Top ten, friends. I'm giving it a prime time slot in my month. And it does not involve me packing up books, projector, presentation, postcards, lucky skirt, miscellaneous schwag, and driving or flying anywhere. I am simply going to put into practice what we do best here, which means adjusting the spotlight.

December is laden with low-hanging fruit. Promotion during the holidays can be like shooting fish in a barrel. (Wow. I really hate that expression-- how about petting fish in a barrel? Kissing?) Hoards of over-caffed shoppers armed with plastic are madly chasing a meaningful and personal gift for everyone on their list.

An autographed book can be the answer to their prayers-- either your book, or one from any of the hundreds of authors you may know at this point in your career. But how do we connect the shoppers with the authors? Read on:

1) If you don't already have some, buy/order bookplates (the stick-on thingys that go inside a book that you sign vs. a set of dishes). Now.

2) Next, pick one, two or three authors or illustrators whose work you admire and would like to promote.

3) Contact the author/illustrator via email/Facebook/Twitter, and ask if they would provide signed bookplates for you to give to your contacts.

4) In whatever way that you connect with the world (blog, website, newsletter), spotlight this author's work early in the month. Let your readers know that if that if they buy a book by this author, you can get them an personalized bookplate. Word of caution: If you are wildly famous with squillions of followers, and suspect that this could result in a new full-time job for you, I'll trust that you will set some guidelines to manage this. Perhaps limit your offer to the first ten people that ask.

5) In whatever way feels comfortable for you, let your readers/followers know that you are willing to sign your own books or bookplates as well.


In addition to cool karmic networking and potential sales of your own book, this promotional idea can be used to keep you balanced and awash in good cheer this month. Set this idea loose on your own gift list. Was there a book you read this year that you loved? What if you bought it for nearly everyone on your list? Even if you don't know the author, contact them. Tell them that you're going to buy 5/10/15/20 copies of their book and ask if they'd sign bookplates. You can offer to send them plates and a SASE to make it easy-squeezy for them.

If you are balking at the idea of contacting an author you don't know, consider if is was you being contacted. Would you really mind? Hell, NO! I'd be really happy to do it for someone. And if they do mind, or don't get back to you quickly, move on to the next author on your Wish List.

A book is a completely perfect gift. An autographed book is a treasure. Books are easy to wrap. Easy to mail. Muscle for the mind. Light for the soul. No trans-fats or bitter aftertaste. No expiration date. And, best of all, it can be recycled over and over and over again.

I'm buying as many copies of Lynne Cox's Grayson that I can. It is such a gorgeous work-- an extraordinary parable. I'll be contacting her this week to ask her if she'll send bookplates. I'm betting she will! To go with my book gift, I'm adding a box of Trader Joe's Candy Cane Green Tea (I bought nearly every box in the Continental US-- sorry!) and lush pair of slipper socks. Dark chocolate likely. It isn't even December yet, and my shopping is nearly nailed. I may have time to work on my novel-in-progress!

Count me as an author happy to send personalized bookplates to any of you that ask. I'd be honored. How about the rest of you? If you would like to make yourself available in this way, please email me here and let me know. I'll start the list right here in this posting. And include the way that people can contact you. Thanks!

Authors/Illustrators That Will Send Signed/Personalized Bookplates in December
7.
8.
9.
10.

Do you have a great bookplate? Want to share it with us? Send a photo or link to where you ordered it would be grand. I might even be inspired to part with one of my boxes of TJ Candy Cane Green Tea to the first person that does just that. And I'll add a surprise to go with it. :-)

Robin just popped in as I was writing this to point us all to YA author Sara Zarra's blog. She is proposing an Advent Off of social media for anyone that wants to hop aboard. Starting now through Epiphany. Fab idea.


Pax,

Mary

**'actual' being a relative term for a writer of fiction

14 comments:

Paul Greci said...

Thanks for the great ideas. Signed books do make for wonderful gifts.

laurasalas said...

Great idea!

Here are my two bookplates I designed and printed:

http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?pid=30510746&l=9802672a70&id=1600896019

http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?pid=30510746&l=9802672a70&id=1600896019

I hope to get a chance to use a few of them!

PJ Hoover said...

Your to-do list is cracking me up. Vacuum coils. Promote book. That is priceless (maybe because I just vacuumed my coils a week ago).
I love this idea!

julieduck said...

You got me when you mentioned the pan of fudge!

This is a great marketing tool and one with a heart. Excellent!

- Julie

P.S. So HAPPY to have found your blog. As an INFJ, I need an outlet like this.

Shonna Slayton said...

Last night I went to a book signing then stopped off at Trader Joe's to get some of that Candy Cane Green Tea. (You left only 4 boxes behind!) Yum, great way to start the morning. Good suggestions!

Rebecca Knight said...

I love this idea :)! Thanks for this post!

Natalie said...

Excellent idea. Good things happen when you help someone else.

Elizabeth Loupas said...

This is a great idea! I've already started my "24 Days of Christmas Book Shopping" series on my blog, although I'm choosing books that appeal to me for a variety of reasons and not just those for which bookplates are available. However, I'd love to include a link where book buyers can request their own personalized bookplate in December. What do you say, Mary and Robin and Laura? My blog is still pretty new and doesn't generate huge amounts of traffic, so you won't be overwhelmed, I promise. :)

R.J. Anderson said...

I'm happy to offer signed personalized bookplates to anyone who wants them! I use transparent mailing labels so that when you stick them onto the title page of one of my books, they "disappear" and make it look almost like I signed the book directly.

I'm also offering signed books through http://www.bookswithflair.com/ -- anyone who's willing to pay cover price plus postage can get a signed personalized book (not just a plate) that way!

Mary Hershey said...

Fine by me, Elizabeth! :-)

Love hearing from everyone and fun to see some new faces!

R.J., I'll add you now. Thanks--

Pax,
Mary

Celise said...

I would definitely like to know where I could order book plates. My first two YA books got re-issued through another publisher, so I'm looking for ways to reintroduce them.

Nancy Ancowitz said...

Hilarious and truly useful post! I love the bookplate idea, Mary. Sign me up! I love what Laura created and R.J. Anderson's idea to use transparent book labels is a great one too.

On a slight tangent, I just made my first big "typo" when I signed a book for a friend "To the wonderful Smith family" so she could give it as a gift. The friend forgot that she had me sign a book a few weeks ago for the Smiths -- she had asked me to sign quite a few books as gifts.

So we tried doctoring the signed page with white mailing labels. However, because my handwriting is large and loopy, it took a lot of mailing labels. The happy ending: the friend is donating the book to her local library.

Maybe there's a moral? You can't judge a book by its blotched out lumpy labeled dedication page!

Or better: I have to add bookplates to my shopping list.

Solvang Sherrie said...

You're too funny, Mary. Matching urns? As if!

Great promotion ideas. Except now I know why I can't find anymore of that TJ Candy Cane tea!

Rosanne Parry said...

My publicist sent me book plates, plain ones with the name of my publishing house on it. She was happy to because they have stacks of them in the office, so it's worth asking your own publisher about this.

I send them to teachers and librarians who contact me on my website and to schools when I do a Skype visit.