Angela Morrison is the author of Taken by Storm and Sing Me to Sleep. She graduated from Brigham Young University and received her MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults from Vermont College. She lives in Scottsdale, Arizona.
When Carol asked me to write a blurb on self-promo, I was gratified . . . and terrified. Gratified that after banging my head against my screen for a couple of years trying to figure out the rapidly mutating web of online promotion, that someone out there might benefit from what I’ve learned; terrified because I still feel like I’m missing 90 percent of what’s available. I welcome lots of comments from those of you who are no doubt way more flexible online than I’ll ever hope to be.
I started my online endeavors with a website made on my Mac, quickly branched out to FaceBook, YouTube, and recently added a blog on Amazon via their author pages. I’ve yet to Tweet. Really smart authors have everything linked, so one entry goes a thousand places. I’m not that smart.
My website offers blogs readers can follow, but if I were to do it all over again and I was starting from scratch, I’d use one of the great free blogger sites, like blogspot. That seems to be a favorite among the YA book reviewers that I know. Their blogs all look fantastic, and it’s easier to connect with the community that way—and that is the community you want to connect with. Big time.
Today that seems like such an obvious statement. The blogosphere is the way books are promoted these days, but a year ago when I was trying to figure out how to promote my debut novel, TAKEN BY STORM (Penguin/Razorbill, 2009), that wasn’t so evident. At least to me. I figured that out slowly, made a lot of blunders, made some lovely blog buddies, and learned a lot that I’ve put into practice the second time around as I get ready for the launch of my next book, SING ME TO SLEEP (March 4, 2010).
The biggest thing I learned is to be hands on. Do whatever you can to make a personal connection with the blogging reviewers. For me that starts with my website. I run a “teen reviewer” contest that attracted bloggers, too. I also have a link to my email in several strategic spots and invite fans and bloggers to email me.
With TAKEN BY STORM, I dutifully referred any ARC (advance review copy) requests I received from bloggers, many of them teens and new to blogging, on to my publicist at Penguin. This time around, I had Penguin send me a load of ARCs and when I received requests, I wrote back and offered to send them a signed SING ARC for review and a signed hardcover of TAKEN BY STORM they could give away for a contest and review—thus keeping the conversation going about STORM, too. (Media mail is rate is my best friend.) One of my most inventive bloggers, hosted Angela Morrison week last month. She posted reviews of both books, an interview, plus interviews with all my characters. Lots of fun.
I invited bloggers to send interview questions and to join a blog tour I’m organizing for SING (and promoting via the participants), and promised hardcover copies of SING for contests leading up to the release. This got a great response.
I’m gearing up now for the release of SING’s trailer that will open my blog tour (January 20th). I’ve asked the bloggers to give their readers extra entries to the SING contest of they post the trailer on their own blogs or elsewhere. The more times they post about you the greater chance you have of their followers seeing you.
I could go on and on, but you get the gist. The best way to engage with the blog community is to find one that will review your book. And others will follow. Be nice. Be generous with your time and books. They all talk to each other, post on each other’s blogs, link them to their own, enter each others contests, etc., etc. How do you find the one? Google or click through to one of the many you’ll find scattered on my Website. Watch for my blog tour post that will be up on my ChatSpot blog soon with links to more sweet, eager, bloggers. Write to a few and offer to send your book. They will flip.
I guess that’s why I love this type of promotion. Blogger enthusiasm—always over the top. For me, that makes it a hundred percent worth it.