I met Megan Karasch, author of Tales from my Hard Drive, at the LA Times Book Festival in April. She was occupying a booth as many authors do, but one book marketing idea of hers led me to actually download her novel onto my Kindle AS SOON AS I got home (now that’s good marketing).
I LOVED the book (recommend it with 5 stars and no hesitation) and I am equally in love with her special marketing tactic. So what was it?
“Melissa (the leading lady) is a writer for a newspaper called The Beacon, so for me it was a no-brainer to create a Beacon newspaper as a marketing tool. We came up with the flier you saw, called it The Beacon and included substance that we believed would pique interest: an excerpt from the book (one of Melissa’s Beacon columns); a synopsis; reader reviews; and a tidbit about me.”
I interviewed Megan to get more deets of how she produced this marketing sheet and the results she has had from it.
Megan, first off, tell us how you feel about book promotions and marketing in general? Are you a confident ‘wave your knickers in the air’ kind of promoter, or does the whole thing scare the be-jeebers out of you?
It’s completely frightening and foreign to me. I’m not a publicist and I’m not in marketing. This is the DIY era, though, so I have to learn to be brave and wear many hats.
I firmly believe in my book and its ability to entertain and I truly enjoy sharing it with people, and those are the driving forces behind my efforts and perseverance.
Did you start promotions before the book was published? If yes, what did this consist of?
I didn’t; but looking back, I wish I had. In fact, I definitely will for my next one. I’ve learned that it’s important to build hype about your book to get people pumped up and on the edge of their seats waiting for it to be released. People seem to desire the hot new item, so if you can build up your book as that item, I think it pays off.
I met you at the LA Times Book Fair where you were sharing a booth with another author. Us authors can definitely take a leaf out of your book and promote work of a similar genre together. How was the experience for you?
The LA Times Book Festival was a fantastic, rewarding experience. I shared the booth with a seasoned writer, JD Shapiro (writer Robin Hood: Men in Tights and other films and the book, The Truth About Men). I think people were drawn to our table because we exhibited books with popular, fun themes (i.e. sex, dating and love).
Personally, I was ecstatic to meet people who read the marketing material or heard my pitch and became excited about my book. The satisfaction I get from those who are eager to read it or who read it and enjoyed it, is a key reason that all the time spent writing and marketing it is worthwhile.
I also met publishers, fellow authors and other industry professionals, all of who provided helpful information. I’d go back to the festival in a heartbeat.
Let’s talk about your awesome marketing sheet. I picked this up at the book fair and was in awe at how effective it was. I read the whole thing and went home and downloaded it to my Kindle straight away! Can you talk us through how you made it?
Absolutely, I’m thrilled to hear your reaction to it. Initially, my sister, my boyfriend and I were thinking of marketing ideas for the book’s launch party. We wanted to craft something that was insightful but was also creative and that tied to the book.
How many copies did you have printed?
For the book festival, I printed somewhere between 300 and 400 copies and gave pretty much all of them away. We gently pushed them on people who stopped by our booth, hoping that even if they didn’t go to the festival to make a purchase, they might do so later when they had time to read the flier and become intrigued by the story, like what happened with you.
They look great this way, but for financial reasons I was surprised it was in color. Were they expensive to produce?
Sort of; I think I paid somewhere around $0.75 or $1 per sheet (it’s less if you buy in bulk). I am an unknown author with my first book in a very saturated market, so I have to stick out as much as I can. And I think sometimes the little things help in that regard.
My book is a light, fun, beach read and I wanted the marketing materials to reflect that tone. The color helps make it pop; black and white just doesn’t fit with the spirit of the book. I am also in love with the cover art that my mother and a friend designed and I just couldn’t bear to see it in black and white.
Where else have you handed these marketing sheets out?
We handed them out at my book release party and I sent them to a few agents, publishers and review sites. I will continue to hand them out at festivals and maybe book signings, and the like, depending how far I am going to take this book.
I read that you are a lawyer AND play drums in a band. How do you fit in promoting and marketing around your busy schedule?
I don’t know but I’m certain sleep deprivation plays somewhat of a role. I have a lot of interests and they are all meaningful to me, so I work it all in, somehow.
To be as effective as possible at marketing though, you need more time than I have and you need to be more of an expert at it than I am. To be perfectly honest, I’ve done my book somewhat of a disservice by pairing marketing with an otherwise full schedule. As I said earlier, I believe in the book so I have promoted it to the extent of my ability.
I have been able to secure some book reviews (which have fortunately been positive) and I’ve been able to garner attention through social media, so I am proud of my accomplishments; however, for my next book, the marketing will start earlier and will involve a publicist or other expert in conjunction with my own efforts.
Any other tips you’d like to share with other authors who want to try the marketing sheet for themselves?
A bright, bold and concise promotional flier is a helpful instrument to give people a meaningful glimpse and get them excited about your novel; but it is only one of the myriad of tools available for authors to promote their work.
To learn more about Megan Karasch and her Tales from my Hard Drive, visit the website here.
Laura Pepper Wu is the co-founder of 30 Day Books: a book studio. She has worked with a variety of authors to successfully promote their books, including many Amazon best-sellers. Laura is the author of wedding non-fiction guides and book marketing guides 77 Ways to Find New Readers for Your Self-Published Book and Fire Up Amazon!
Laura also runs Ladies Who Critique, a critique-partner finding site. When she's not working at the studio, you can find her walking her dog, "yoga-ing" or at a coffee shop in Seattle.