Promoting Yourself with Nothing to Promote IV: Promo Ideas

I heard it said once (I forget where) that the idea behind promo is to keep putting yourself out there until people keep bumping into you everywhere they go. At that point, they start to ask, “Who is  this person, anyway?” And they finally go check you out.

There are lots of tried and true ways to market yourself–plus plenty of innovations that can give you an edge. Today’s post is the last in a month-long series on promoting yourself as an author–even before you have a book to promote. Here are the first three posts:

Today we’re talking about just a handful of the many ways you can promote yourself as an author–including some uncommon methods that I’ve been having fun with.

The Tried and True

If you’re looking for a quickie list of where to start your book marketing strategy, look no further.

  • Author website
  • Business cards
  • Blog
  • Twitter
  • Facebook

In that order. (Mostly my opinion.)

Author Website. You need a go-to place for people to find you easily, get to know more about you, and hear about your books when they come out. Here, you can also offer a newsletter so that you can collect your followers’ email addresses–your mode of contacting your fans when your books become available. WordPress is an easy way to design your own website. (It’s what Carrie and I use across all our websites, paid and unpaid.) Carrie wrote a series about working with WordPress. You can read it here: Setting Up A Free WordPress Blog in 4 Easy Steps.

Business Cards. I have it from Carrie that some people consider business cards obsolete, in this modern age of social media. I heartily disagree! Unless you absolutely never socialize with people in the real world, you need business cards, listing your website, email, and social media accounts. Otherwise, the people you meet who show interest in your work have no way of ever finding you again. And it’s so much more suave to hand out a fancy card than to scratch out your web address on a napkin!

Blog. I list this separately from your website because it’s optional. You can have a stationary, unchanging website with no blog, or you can have a place on your website to write regular posts. A lot of people enjoy hearing regularly from their favorite people. And again, having the option to subscribe to your blog gives you the opportunity to reach out to your fanbase, thanks to their collected email addresses. On the other hand, a blog represents another level of commitment from you, with posts to write every day, week, or month. (Your choice.) I have three blogs–two monthlies and a weekly–and they sure keep me busy!

Twitter. If you don’t know where to start with social media, start with Twitter. It’s ridiculously easy to grow your following there. Twitter simply makes it ultra easy to find new people and start conversations with them. If you’re not sure how to jump into the Twiterverse, I wrote a whole series on Twitter for Rank Beginners.

Facebook. I leave this one for last because its usefulness for growing a following has diminished recently. Only a fraction of the people who like your page actually receive your updates. I have one Facebook page for outdoor photography and my adventures with my dog. On average, my posts are getting served to about 60% of my followers. (I just punched the numbers.) I’m really, really lucky. According to Facebook, “Pages organically reach about 16% of their fans on average,” unless you pay. Nevertheless, Facebook still has a place. A lot of people simply expect  you to have a Facebook fan page. Personally, I don’t plan on starting a second Facebook page for my author presence until I have a big enough readership and people are practically asking why they can’t find me on Facebook.

Marketing Outside the Box

So that covers the Fab Five of author promo. What about those more unconventional promotional ideas I talked about?

There’s no limit to the ways in which you can promote yourself. Nor do you have to use a particular promotional method just because it worked well for somebody else. You should find a particular promotional recipe that works well for you. And since marketing methods are always changing, you should be willing to try new ideas, like a chef looking for an exciting spin on an old dish.

Mike Wells offers a free copy of one of his novels to each of his new Twitter followers. Now that’s  a way to endear new readers to yourself! Jack Canfield and Mark Victor Hansen sent free copies of their book to celebrities. Their book–and the ensuing series–took wing when the producer of the TV show Touched by an Angel  ordered a copy for every member of the cast and crew. The producer’s backing of the book made big news, and with that, the book went viral. You may have heard of it: Chicken Soup for the Soul.

I like out-of-the-box. And I like reading about other people’s unique promo ideas. And I like experimenting. So following are a few of the things I’ve been trying to go above-and-beyond basic book marketing.

Podcasts and Radio Shows

I was recently interviewed by journaling expert Nathan Ohren for his podcast JournalTalk about my upcoming book, Journaling to Become a Better Writer. Nathan and I met on Twitter, started talking, and next thing you know, we’re doing an interview.

Since then, I’ve noticed several people with podcasts or radio shows. I’m keeping a list and plan to pitch them the idea of an interview, too.

What do I like about podcasts and radio?

  • They represent a higher degree of professionalism than your run-of-the-mill author blog.
  • The audience gets to hear my voice, which helps them feel more connected to me as a real person.

Freelance Articles

I was once going to write freelance magazine and web articles for my living, but the call of novels and books won out.

Still, I spent so much time learning those ropes … and  I do get a kick out of seeing my byline in a glossy!

Like radio and podcasts, magazines and ezines represent a higher level of professionalism. For my book on journaling, I plan to pitch publications specializing in journaling and writing. (Looking at you, Writer’s Digest.)

But I don’t think you have to be a non-fiction author to successfully pitch articles to magazines and ezine. What themes do you tackle in your novel? My novel Mailboat  is about the importance of a parent’s presence on a child’s emotional development. Thanks to all the research I’m putting in–not to mention personal experiences–I feel pretty well positioned to pitch articles on these topics to magazines.

And my by line may just mention that I have a novel coming out on the same topic …

Speaking Engagements

I’m joking, right?

Nope! Not at all. I’ve already done one speaking gig, and can’t wait to do more! Maybe some workshops for writers, too, based on my journaling book.

This may be my favorite unconventional promo method. Why? Because my audience gets to meet me in person. They see my face. They hear my voice. They get to know my mannerisms. They’re sharing the same room with me. We really have a chance to connect and get to know each other. There’s no better way to connect with your audience than just by being yourself.

By the way–public speaking is another reason why those business cards are a good idea!

Research Trips

I recently completed a research trip for my novel Mailboat. It took me to the lovely resort community of Lake Geneva, Wisconsin. While I anticipated gaining tons of information for my novel, I didn’t realize how good this trip was going to be for promo. Every time I turned around, I was talking with either locals or other tourists.

“Where are you from?” they’d ask.

“North Dakota.”

“Wow! What brings you here?”

“I’m doing research for a novel.”

“Oh, wow!”

This frequently ended with me handing out my business card.

I’ve actually started a small group of fans in Lake Geneva, consisting of the people directly involved in my research. They have personally contributed to my novel, they have spent time with the author (me), and they’ve all expressed an interest in seeing the book when it’s done.


As you can see, there are as many ways to promote yourself as you can dream up. My personal marketing recipe leans towards any way I can connect one-on-one with my audience, because I believe the best business is built first on friendship. I want my audience to feel like they know me personally.

Your book marketing recipe may look completely different, just depending on the kinds of promo you enjoy and find effective. The point is to keep your eyes open for new techniques and be experimental.

And whatever you do, keep promoting! That’s the only way to guarantee consistent book sales.

I hope you enjoyed this series on promoting your unfinished novel. Next month, I’m running a series on how to artfully weave descriptive detail into your writing. I hope you’ll join us!

Thanks to all of you who have subscribed to our blog! Anyone who’s interested, you can click right here. You’ll get a free ebook! Writing a Novel Is Like Walking a Cat.

‘Kay. I’m done talking. Your turn! What is your favorite marketing technique? Or one you can’t wait to try?

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Posts in This Series

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