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DragonCon 2016 panel: Promote your book

While at DragonCon 2016, I attended the Writer’s Track panel “How to Promote Your Book.” Figured I could use the knowledge drop for my action/ urban fantasy series. Here’s the lowdown on what I learned.

“How to Promote our Book” Panelists:

  • Sheila English – Circle of Seven Productions. She trademarked the term “book trailer;” that’s what the company does, among other things; she’s also an author
  • Ben Coles (Bennet R. Coles) – Titan Books and Promontory Press; creator of military sci-fi
  • Kathy Lyons, who also writes as Jade Lee – romance novelist
  • Peter David – yes, THE Peter David, author of several Star Trek novels as well as Marvel graphic novels and independent books
  • Faith Hunter – urban fantasy author with the Jane Yellowrock series and others
  • Gale Z Martin – author of The Chronicles of The Necromancer fantasy adventure series
  • Lee Martindale – a self-published author at HarpHaven Publishing

The panel covered various outlets for letting the world know about you as an author and your works. The emphasis was on self-published authors (like myself). They made comparisons to the more traditional publishing world, with the caveat that nowadays, even the big publishers required their authors to do self-promotion.

Luckily, the same rules apply.

To tour or not to tour?

Author Peter David at promote your book panel

Author Peter David

Mr. David mentioned the traditional book tour but warned they’re expensive. Ms. Hunter pointed out the costs: hotels, transportation, book stock, advertising. And that doesn’t include the time taken calling stores to host you!

Unless you’re a big name, expect to see about fifteen to twenty people per stop.

Instead, David and the other panelists suggested spending the money on online ads, review/ blog tours or book trailers. You’ll reach far more people online, especially if you take the time to seek out your audience and put your book in front of them.

“Of course, there’s nothing like meeting your fans in person,” David commented.

How does a blog tour promote your book?

A blog tour is when your book is featured on several blogs over the course of a few days, weeks or even a month. The tour stop includes your cover, a synopsis, where to buy the book and sometimes (but not always) a review.

A blog tour can also feature an interview with the author or a guest post from the author on a topic to which the blog owner agrees.

A review tour is similar to a blog tour in that it too showcases the book on several blogs. The difference: a review tour is specifically for guaranteed reviews of the book.

The authors on the panel recommended a review tour, especially for new writers. This type of tour gets you those coveted reviews to post on Amazon and Goodreads that build credibility for your book.

Network, network, network

Jane Yellowrock novel by Faith Hunter

Jane Yellowrock novel by Faith Hunter

One of the best ways to get yourself out there is networking. Go to conventions, be they fantasy/ comic book-intensive or specifically for writers. Explore local affiliations in the same vein too.

When at these events, say hello to people. Find out who they are, what they’re writing, what they’re reading. Exchange business cards, Facebook pages or Twitter handles.

If you’re not an extrovert, the panelists suggested taking a wingman who is. They can meet people, then mention you and your role as an author, allowing you a moment to network.

What you don’t want to do is be the “Hi! I’m an author! Buy my book!” guy. Ms. Martin said it best: “Networking is a courtship, not blunt force trauma.”

When the con is over, keep in touch with your new potential friends. They’re the ones who will be your champions; be sure to champion for them too.

More to come…

Wow! This one turned out a bit longer than expected!

I don’t want to short you on the knowledge, so I’m gonna post a second DragonCon Panel recap next Wednesday that covers book trailers and building a persona for social media.

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