Monday, June 18, 2012

Building An Author's Promotional Package, Part 1

INTRODUCTION

As I get ready to release my new book, Short Stories, (coming on June 29th!) I’ve decided to put together a promotional package, as I have done in the past. But I realized that I had never given much thought to it. As I pondered the subject, I concluded that there are several things that I think are important to include; these are the things I am going to include in my own promotional package. A lot of this will be common sense for those of us who have done it before, but I hope some new authors out there will get a few ideas to use when they begin promoting their books. Note that this is not a guide on where or how to submit your promotional packages, but briefly, I intend to use mine for the following:

1. To send to those who have agreed to host a book announcement on their blog
2. To post on my own blog
3. To send out to my email contacts
4. To create a Goodreads event

If you want to write up a press release, there are, of course, many places you can post those. Some Google research will be able to tell you more than I can. I’ll address press releases a bit later in the article but the main focus will be on writing your book description.

I: THE DESCRIPTION

The first thing to include in an author’s press package is the most obvious: a description of the book. That’s easy enough, right? Actually, no. It’s notoriously difficult to write an engaging description but it is going to be the most important part of your press package. Based on your description of a book, potential readers will decide to either buy or pass. Just so we’re clear, you want them to buy. So how do you do this? My main point of advice is to use the word “thrilling.” I'm only partly joking about this. Read some book descriptions. Every book ever written is “thrilling.” If it’s not “thrilling,” then it is “heart-warming.” Other words readers like to see are “fast-paced,” “touching,” “provocative” and “engaging.” Of course, only use these words if they actually apply to your novel. Do not try to trick readers with your description. A tricked reader is an unhappy reader, which is something you do not want. It would help to have some friends read the book beforehand and tell you how they would describe it. Find out what key words they use and weave them into your book description.

Here’s my back cover blurb for my upcoming book Short Stories. Give it a read then I will tell you what I’ve tried to do with each part of the description:
The science fiction stories of Michael K. Rose can most accurately be described as eclectic. He is best known for his science fiction adventure series Sullivan’s War and in this collection you will find stories that adhere to the strongest expectations of the genre, such as “Sergeant Riley’s Account,” “Sleep” and “A Random Selection.”
But you will also find stories that, while speculative in nature, owe more to literary fiction than anything else. Works such as “Main & Church,” “Inner Life” and “Pedro X.” explore the psyche as opposed to the outer reaches of the galaxy.
Whatever your tastes, you are bound to discover many favorites amongst these ten stories. The first five have been available previously. The last five are new to this collection.
The first paragraph has done a few things. First, I have described my writings as eclectic. This is code for “there’s something for everybody here!” Next, I mention Sullivan’s War. This does two things. It tells the reader I have a track record as an author and, if the reader has read Sullivan’s War, I have reminded them that I wrote it. They hopefully liked it and will pick up Short Stories based on that. If not, they at least know that it is a science fiction adventure series. I then list three stories that have strong science fiction elements. One of these, "Sleep," is a very popular short story of mine that was released as a stand-alone ebook. So if a potential reader hasn’t read Sullivan’s War, s/he may have read “Sleep” and if they enjoyed it, they can expect more of the same from Short Stories. I also mention “Sergeant Riley’s Account,” another story that is available individually. There’s a chance they've read and liked that one as well.

The second paragraph reinforced the eclectic nature of my writing. If you don’t like sci-fi adventure, there are some “deeper” literary stories here as well. I mention “Inner Life,” which was part of the collection Inner Lives: Three Short Stories. If a reader liked that collection, I entice them with the titles of other similar stories, both of which are new to this collection.

The third paragraph reiterates the idea that there is something for everyone here. I exclude no one. Now, obviously, I can’t really be sure you’re going to find many favorites in Short Stories but if hubris is acceptable anywhere, it is in your book description. You are trying to sell the book. Be bold! Be assertive! Readers want to read something by confident writers, writers who have faith in their work. I also mention that half the stories have been available previously. This means that I consider them strong (and popular) enough to include here. The promise of five new stories will hook readers who are already familiar with my other work.

Now, if you are planning to release an “official” press release, you will want to insert some elements at the beginning and end of your book description to fit that format, and may even want to edit the content of your description a bit. I’m far from an expert on this but by way of example, here’s one I did for Sullivan’s War: Book II – A City without Walls

Since author Michael K. Rose released Sergeant Riley’s Account in December of 2011, this introduction to the science fiction series Sullivan’s War has received rave reviews and has been a frequent presence on Amazon’s “Best Sellers in Science Fiction Series” list. The release of Book I in January, entitled All Good Men Serve the Devil, has also made it onto that best sellers list, reaching a rank of #30, and has earned glowing reviews of its own.
Now Mr. Rose is set to release Sullivan’s War: Book II - A City without Walls. In this thrilling new installment, Rick Sullivan must track down the man who’s kidnapped the woman he loves, all while avoiding a ruthless bounty hunter and trying to move forward his ultimate plan: to free his home planet Edaline of its oppressive regime.
Filled with action and suspense from beginning to end, A City without Walls is sure to please not only fans of the Sullivan’s War series but all fans of the science fiction genre.
Don’t miss out on 2012’s hot new science fiction adventure series! Look for Sullivan’s War: Book II - A City without Walls on March 30 at Amazon’s Kindle store and Barnes & Noble’s Nook store.
So you can see how I sandwiched the book description between information about the series at the beginning and release information at the end. There are lots of ways to do this and your best bet, whether writing a simple book description or an “official” press release, is to write it and then re-write it several times. Give yourself a few days to play with it and change things around until you are satisfied with the result. It will also be helpful to read through some press releases to get a feel for the language used in them.

If you have any other ideas or advice concerning book descriptions or press releases, leave your comments below! Tomorrow, in Part 2, I’ll talk about the next two elements that I think should be included in An Author’s Promotional Package: images and quotes.

UPDATE: Read Part 2 here.

9 comments:

  1. Replies
    1. I am a new publisher /author and your post was very helpful ,
      THANKYOU!

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  2. Again, so helpful. I am dreading the whole promotion piece of launching a book. Thanks for helping to light my way.

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    Replies
    1. It can be a pain, to be sure!

      Best,
      Michael

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  3. Good article, thanks! How do you create a Goodreads event?

    JD

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  4. Thanks Michael - I'm working on promotion of my historical novel DESTINIES - every bit of info helps. Thanks so much. Wish you the best with your new "Short Stories"

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  5. Thank you Michael for a really informative piece. I've bookmarked this one in my must have guides.

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  6. Wow, great post! I'm glad I stumbled on this. I look forward to more!

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