Guest Post

HAVE A BOOK TO PROMOTE? Lyrical Pens welcomes guest posts. Answer a questionnaire or create your own post. FYI, up front: This site is a definite PG-13. For details, contact cj

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Putting yourself out there: The act of self-promotion.

cj Sez:  Today, Lyrical Pens welcomes novelist D. J. Adamson discussing how she goes about the important business of marketing without breaking the bank. 

I worked in sales and marketing before deciding to self-publish. This background gave me the confidence to go forward. I’d trained many people to successfully sell and market. Combining what I knew before with what I know now allows me to pass on some of the tips I’ve learned about selling and marketing my books.
At the beginning, I played with social media, went to conferences and networked, purchased promotional packages. Did I have success? Some, but nothing that put me on the Amazon’s “most sales list” or matched Hugh Howie’s numbers. 
As a past business person, I know a business needs to eventually run in the black. Maybe not the first year, but eventually. So after two years, I pulled up my expenses and balanced them with my assets. DEPRESSING. Yet, instead of discouraging me, it motivated me to do it all differently. Here is what I found:
1.                   I no longer go to conferences unless the attendees include readers as well as writers.  Writers don’t buy books. Or very few.
2.                  I go to conferences that are close by and don’t cost a flight and hotel to attend. One conference cost me two thousand dollars and I sold one book. I joined active association, like Sisters in Crime, National Women’s Book Association, SCBWI, Mystery Writers of America. I became active.
3.                   I remind myself that I am as good as my last book. I received one award, was nominated for another, and received 4+ stars on my novels. Many Goodreads people “Want to Read” my work, but, sales diminish after the book has been out there for a year. I need to produce one to two novels a year. And let me emphasize, Good Novels. That means, I need to be disciplined in my schedule. I work my writing at least four to six hours a day and spend about five hours a week on social networking and promoting.
4.                  I used to work many social networks. Now, I am only on Facebook and Twitter.  I also limit how much I promote my books, only doing so when I have a special promotion going on, revealing a new cover, or mentioning a launch.  Don’t you thumb right past those twenty posts requesting, “Read My Book”?
I use social networks for networking, not marketing. I meet new people in the industry and by putting myself out there, I am received.
5.                   I use my Kindle freebies only before I launch a new book. I hold maybe one/two .99 cent promotions. I try to do a Goodreads giveaway once a month. I offer two, sometimes three books. I send them by camel.
6.                  I use snail mail to keep others updated on my new work. I’ve found postal mail more beneficial than email. It takes nothing to hit the delete button on a computer. The person getting the postcard has to see what the card is about and who it’s from before giving it a toss in the trash basket.
7.                  I set a dollar limit for promoting a book. If you look around, you’ll realize a whole industry has developed to swallow authors’ dollars, promising to get their books noticed. I have limited my promotional money to $500 a book. I know that sounds low, but I think I have sold more books in this past year than the two years combined. I advertise on free or low-cost sites. Amazon ads have been very successful, and the cost is low. Finding a way to get to readers or promote without spending a lot of money has become actually very fun. I had create my book trailers. Go to my website to see for yourself. They aren’t bad. They are also on YouTube, and go figure this, the trailer of Outré has been seen by almost five thousand viewers. Did that turn into sales? Probably not. But five thousand people learned my name.
8.                  I created a newsletter. “Le Coeur de l’Artiste” reviews books and interviews authors. I publish it monthly. It comes out, like any other deadlined project, on the 15th of every month. Sometimes not until midnight, but one minute before, I press the send button. The newsletter has not necessarily created sales, but it has branded my name as a writer. Plus, I find a great satisfaction in promoting other authors.
Stephen King said in his work On Writing that to write you need to read a lot. You need to read what is good and what is bad. I read at least five-six books a month, just for the newsletter. I also try to read one or two books on promotion and craft.
9.                  I began accumulating email addresses as soon as the newsletter idea came to me. So far, my “Le Coeur de l’Artiste” list is almost two thousand readers. I don’t promote myself in the newsletter, but it can be found on my website. I also offer it to many readers as a PDF.  The newsletter has been so well accepted that I now have a blog, “L’Artiste.” I produce it three times a month. I include others besides authors: musicians, scriptwriters, playwrights, etc. The blog emphasizes that getting the story out has many forms.
10.              There are great books out there on promotional ideas. Read them all. Take an idea, put it on a card then try it out. One idea at a time. If it doesn’t feel good to you or didn’t pan out, throw the card away and pick up another.  Don’t be bashful; ask others to help promote stories. I have rarely been told to “beat it.” In fact, I think it’s a writer’s responsibility to help other writers. We all know how defeatist we can feel when things aren’t going well.

      I am not sure I was helpful to anyone reading this. I am merely sharing my experience so far. I want to write for a long time, which means I need to be sensible about what I do, both with time and money. It might also sound like my whole life is consumed behind my computer. I still teach a full load of classes, grade papers, make dinner, clean house, and find the time to give my family a hug.

      Putting yourself out there is the ultimate KEY to being SUCCESSFUL.  Please share with me your promotional stories, both the horror stories and those that gave you some success. You can reach me on Facebook, Twitter, or my Website. And don’t miss the latest issue of “Le Coeur de l’Artiste.”

cj Sez: Thanks, D.J., for sharing your marketing methodology with Lyrical Pens readers. Lots of great tips in there. I’m keeping my fingers crossed that Suppose runs right up Amazon’s ladder to the Most Sales List.

If you’ve got a question or comment, be sure to let D.J. know, either here or directly on her website. We’d love to hear from you. Okay, you-all guys keep on keeping on, and I’ll try to do the same.

D. J. Adamson is the author of the Lillian Dove Mystery series and the Deviation science fiction-suspense trilogy.  Suppose, the second in the Lillian series, has just been released.  She also teaches writing and literature at Los Angeles colleges. And to keep busy when she is not writing or teaching, she is the Membership Director of the Los Angeles Sisters in Crime, Vice President of Central Coast Sisters in Crime and an active member of the Southern California Mystery Writers. Her books can be found and purchased in bookstores and on Amazon.

"What did he want to know about me?” 

“If you were still alive.” 

Connivers, murder and the international shipment of drugs unites the local PDs and the Federal Government, and drags Lillian Dove into a hailstorm of manipulation and danger; whereby, she is given two choices: Join? Or die trying.


  1. Thank you for having me. I enjoyed talking about this subject and look forward to any ideas your readers may have as well. Dj

  2. It's certainly a never ending process. I agree with almost all you've said--going to big cons is fun--but not so productive--though they do have readers and when I went I made a point to make friends with as many as I could, and they are still fans.

    1. Yes, I made friends as well, fans, not so sure. But you are way ahead of my on the success chart!

  3. I enjoyed this. I just found out about your newsletter this past week on a Make Mine Mystery post and read it. Found it very interesting and saw some of the books you reviewed. This article is so true. It's hard to get your promotion money back on book sales. I'm on book number 1, and another one coming out at some point, so I'm still trying a bit of everything, trying to get a "feel" on what works best. I'll be where you are at some point where I determine what to give up and what to do more of.

    1. Hello Linda, Happy you came on and introduced yourself. I hope we get to know one another. Oh, I would never stop what I am doing, I am just becoming a little wiser. You keep feelin' out there. Share what has worked for you. I know I will continue sharing.

  4. Great information, D.J., lots to think about. I've been needing to re-think my position on marketing and promotion and your blog post has given me a clear direction. Marketing is so hard for me... as it is for many authors. This is all great advice!

  5. Thanks for coming by, Susan. Reading A matter of Identity for a review. I am enjoying it.

  6. Great post, DJ. I agree that conventions are a waste of marketing money, and I don't think it matters whether they're writers conferences or fan conventions. But for me, they're worth their weight in gold as vacations with added opportunities to network and catch up with old friends.

  7. And I heard you kill at the poker tables! It's great you have a significant other who enjoys going. While I've been with mine for over 40 years, being around authors, just isn't his thing. So, I have to make sure going is worth my business budget. It's why I am writing---you're as good as your last book--and waiting for conferences in California. Have a great time in New Orleans!!!!

    Thanks for coming and visiting, Craig


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