Promotion Tips from Pros


Vision 11


Promotion Tips from Pros


Mindy L. Klasky,  
Bruce Holland Rogers, 
and Vera Nazarian

Copyright © 2002, Mindy L. Klasky,  Bruce Holland Rogers, Vera Nazarian, All Rights Reserved

(Editor's note: This article is now 12 years old and links may not work. It is still well worth reading.)

Some of the members of the Publicity And Self-Promotion For Writers list offered a few tips for Vision readers:

Mindy L. Klasky

The self-promotion technique that has proven most successful for me is to cross-promote my writing self with my "other" selves.  At my day job, I am a librarian, and I used to be a lawyer.  I routinely speak to librarians' groups, have my books reported in library- and law- trade publications, have articles in alumni magazines, and so forth, all because the world seems to be fascinated by how this librarian-lawyer spends her time outside of the office.  This cross-promotion was most evident in April, during National Library Week, when my firm hosted a signing for my new book (over 100 copies sold at a gala event with wine, cheese, and a reading), and two other libraries asked me to speak in conjunction with the American Libraries Association national them, "Writers Live at the Library."  Of course, the specific form of promotion within these engagements is similar to that which we all practice in various venues:  I bring sample chapters, bookmarks, and business cards, and I do my best to sparkle! 

Mindy L. Klasky


Bruce Holland Rogers 

Some of you already know about the guerrilla marketing kit I'm sending to people who pre-ordered my book for writers. One element of that kit is a button that features the cover of the book. Fans of the book can wear the button and tell people who ask about it about the book. 

Lately, I've been wearing a much simpler button, one with on it. That's all it says, although it's arranged vertically:


When someone asks me about it, I tell them about the web site with my stories. If there is time, I mention the email subscriptions to my short-shorts. And I hand them a business card with the URL on it. Sometimes I forget that I'm wearing the button until someone asks about it. In the last 24 hours, a gas station attendant, a computer salesman, and a grocery shopper in the produce section accepted my card and promised to take a look at what I do. 

How many will go to the site? Will that lead to any actual subscriptions? I may never know for certain since I don't ask subscribers how they heard about me. My experience is that the vast majority of subscriptions sell to people who already know me. 

But wearing the button is a fairly passive sort of promotion, and I do enjoy wearing my Writer identity out in public with strangers. And it costs very little. I used a pin-on name badge to make my button for under $1. 

I'm contemplating a bumper sticker for my car. :-) 

Subscribe to a year's worth of Bruce's short-short stories for just

$5 USD. Full information at:


In general, though, I've found that promotion works best on one of two tracks: 

The personal track, where you reach one person at a time, but you already know them or you are meeting them face-to-face. 

The mass-media track, where you are reaching a large audience of people who will already be interested in your work, or an even larger audience of the general public who will mostly be uninterested in your work, but whose numbers are so great that if one in a thousand buys your book, your sales spike. 

Efforts outside of these categories may be worthy of experiment, but I think we're best off putting our efforts into one of these two tracks.

If I write an unsolicited publicity email to someone I don't know, I generally say something like "I hope this message hasn't been intrusive."  (I don't do this, of course, with media contacts.  It's their job to receive publicity!)  I do this both to apologize in advance, but also to invite people to tell me if it has been intrusive.  And people do. 

I recently emailed over 100 Amazon reviewers who had reviewed books similar to my newest, just letting them know that the book was out there.  I had one person reply with irritation, and over a dozen have written to thank me and with promises to check out the book.  That's a ratio I can live with.  And, of course, I send one message, and that's it.  Repeated mailings to the same person about the same book... that's over the line in my view. 

I'd generalize this to other publicity efforts.  If you're at risk of over-doing it, ask if you're overdoing it.  You'll hear back.  You still need to calibrate the feedback.  Some people you'll hear from believe that writers should do no publicity, that it's unseemly, that we should wait for the world to discover us.  Someone will always think that you're doing too much. 

It helps to remember that your main job is to write new work.  That can also restrain you some and help to prevent your doing too much publicity, whatever too much is. 


Vera Nazarian 

I have to make a choice to act like a confident person in certain public circumstances.  I've been doing that for years.  I am really a shy and introverted person, believe it or not.   

But at conventions I put on this "persona outfit" a role that helps me just be outgoing and to forget what kind of a shy mouse I might be deep inside.  Now, this is easier said than done, and I don't think everyone can do it.  For those of us who really cannot bring ourselves to be this way, there are various online situations where we can be just as "loud" or brassy or vibrant or whatever it is we are aiming for. 

But there are definitely things that can be done.  For example, have you considered running a regular Blog, or Online Journal?  You can join the number of hip folks such as Teresa and Patrick Nielsen Hayden, Charlie Stross, Cory Doctorow, and so on.   

Here's Teresa's Blog, "Making Light":  

A Blog can be as personal or as impersonal as you make it, and it will get you enough addicted readers and an ever-increasing regular audience as long as it manages to hold people's interest, and you would be surprised to the amount of boring stuff that can and does hold interest of certain readers.  For some people, nothing is boring. 

There are other online things, including the ones you mentioned, a website, reviewing, hanging out in newsgroups at SFF Net and USENET.   


Publicity and Self-Promo Grab Bag: 

Always use your own best judgment when checking out these links.  The advice presented in all of them varies from mildly to moderately useful, and in some cases it is merely amusing. 

Let's focus on Press Releases:  

Some RWA member promotion tips:  

Spilled Candy's Promotion

Subscribe to free daily promo e-zine here:  

You Wrote It, Now Promote It!  

Five-Alarm Self-Promotion:  

The Art of Self Promotion:  

Self-Promotion: Think Outside the Box, By Lori Van Pelt  

Books & Writers Rank Monitoring Service:  

Key Elements of any Promotion Plan:  

Online Publicity Tips for Mystery Writers  

Q & A with Publishers  

Book Publicity Resources  

35 Ways to Make Your Next Book Signing an Event!!  

Surfing the Amazon - Decoding Sales Ranks  

Free Publicity for Your Book  

Armed and Ready: A Guide to Publicity Materials (last updated 04/03/2000)  

From the Editor - Author Network - November 2001

Marketing & Promotion  

eMage by eMail - Internet Publicity


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