Thursday, January 27, 2011

12 Writing: The Art of Shameless Self-Promotion

The second article in our author marketing and promotion series is by Lisa Desrochers, acclaimed author of PERSONAL DEMONS and the upcoming ORIGINAL SIN (July 2011). You can catch Lisa on her website, her blog, or on As we mentioned in Tuesday's article by Shannon Delany, Lisa's book is also one of the prizes in our Viral Marketing Experiment and Contest. Please help us see how far and fast word can spread on the 'Net.

The Art of Shameless Self-Promotion

by Lisa Desrochers

FREE STUFF! Everybody loves free stuff. And, everybody knows I’m the queen of giving away free stuff. In October and November alone, I gave away signed books by Melissa Marr, Claudia Gray, Maria V. Snyder, Ally Condie, Andrea Cremer, Melissa de la Cruz, Kiersten White and Sophie Jordan. I also gave away signed copies of Personal Demons, two iPods, and tons of swag. Why, you ask, do I give away so much stuff? Answer: Because it warms my heart to see you readers sooo happy when you win something really cool! …Oh…yeah. It also helps me promote my book. Personally, I think free stuff is one of the best ways to draw attention yourself and your book.

Myra is going to talk about pre-publication promotion, but that’s really where it all started for me. My timeline from book deal to shelves was anything but traditional. Personal Demons sold on December 21, 2009, and I found out in January that my publisher was crashing into the September 2010 list.

I freaked.

The more typical timeline of 18ish months allows plenty of time to get the word out and create buzz for a book. I was sure Personal Demons would release in September and no one buty my mother would have ever heard of it.

So, I started giving stuff away. And I used other unsuspecting authors shamelessly to do it. First thing in January, when no one knew I existed, I started my monthly 2010 Debut Contests. Each monthly winner had a choice of one of four YA debut books that were releasing that month, or a signed ARC of Personal Demons when I got them. I tweeted the crap out of my contests and entries grew incredibly fast. At first, I felt kind of bad dovetailing on other authors buzz, but you know what? Most of them retweeted my contests, and I’ve become Twitter buds with a lot of them. (Incidentally, all winners except January chose Personal Demons. :p) As an author, don’t be afraid to ask others of us for signed books for giveaways. We’re all looking for ways of promoting our books and many of us would be happy to oblige.
Of course, any good book giveaway needs to include swag. Bookmarks are always popular, and I’ve gone through thousands. (Sometimes they’ve mysteriously found their way into other popular YA books at my local B&N. Shhh…) Be sure on your bookmarks to include all your contact info (email, web, FB, Twitter etc) and then they double as business cards.

Creative swag is always fun. Shannon’s bookmarks and the whole AR thing (see Tuesday’s post) is totally amazing. A favorite of my readers has been the Team Luc and Team Gabe tattoos. (Luc and Gabe are tagging souls via these tattoos, btw.) There are several sites online where you can design your own custom tattoos. My daughter designed mine. I also designed a logo for tank tops. You can use your book cover, or part of it if that works better, or you can use fan art or your own design. Again, there are several online shops that have a design center where you can uses your own art to come up with just the right shirt. ( and come to mind)

VENTURING OUT (into the cyber or real world)
When you go on the road, you’ll want to bring all that great swag with you. If you’re doing school visits, tattoos and stickers are popular. You should always have enough bookmarks to hand out to every single person who crosses your path at any book function (because they’re your business cards, remember). I also give away tank tops. These are great incentive to encourage people to ask questions. I’ll usually talk for a few minutes, read a few pages, then ask for questions, giving tank tops to the first two or three people to ask.

Which brings me to general logistics of author events. I’ve found it’s usually better to have my publicist set up signings. In turn, the bookstores are usually happy to set up school visits in their local community. You can set up signings on your own by contacting the community relations manager (at chains) or the event coordinator (at indies). They’re often very friendly and happy to work with authors. When I travel, I always stop into the local indie and chain bookstores to sign stock and chat up the booksellers, leaving a bookmark in each signed copy.

There are myriad options for reaching out to the on-line community. Many bloggers host live author chats where everyone piles into a chat room and the questions fly. If you’re friendly with a blogger or two, ask if they’d be willing to host a chat for you. The most effective time to do online chats is just after a “buzz generating” event, such as your cover reveal or release of your book trailer (which bloggers are wonderful about helping with, btw). Unlike “live” audiences, online chatters are never shy about firing off the questions or comments. This is a really fun way to connect with readers. Other authors like to do Skype chats. Shannon covered most of the social networking opportunities, which I encourage you to take full advantage of to publicize your live and online events. I blog daily ( and live on Twitter (@LisaDez), linking my Facebook page to my Twitter feed for maximum publicity of all upcoming events.

And that’s Shameless Self-Promotion 101. Questions?


  1. Thanks for the great advice. How many of your own ARCs and books did you give away? How many blogs did you visit to promote the buzz about your book? Thanks.

  2. Hi Natalie! I have given away in the ballpark of 100 signed ARCs or finished copies of Personal Demons through contests on my own blog, on Twitter or on other wonderful blogs. I have a policy that I will do interviews for anyone who asks, so I've done blog tours and interviews in the hundreds.

  3. Thanks for the advice; it REALLY opened my eyes. That's such a great way to build up buzz for your book if you have a short term between selling and the pub date.

  4. Loved this!! So many great ideas. Thanks ladies! ;-)

  5. And I'm here to say it works, because I'm a loyal fan who not only loves your writing, but appreciates how amazing YOU are too. And I tell everyone I can, every chance I get.

  6. These are great suggestions. I'm bookmarking this post for when it's time for promotion. =)


  7. Great suggestions! Did you pay for the ipods and other swag (other than the books by other authors that you mentioned) yourself?

  8. I'm one of the lucky people who won an early ARC from Lisa's blog contests. I not only loved the book, I blogged about it and took photos when the book hit the store shelves. Lisa's hard work paid off in people becoming enthused and spreading the word.

  9. Tricia and Lisa--Hi! Thanks for all your support! =)

    Lena--I did pay for the iPods and swag. Realistically, unless you're a lead title at your publishing house, you'll need to put part of your advance back into promoting your book.

  10. I haven't won anything on your blog though I tried :) but it was another blog that I was following that pointed me in the direction of your blog when you were giving away stuff. I stumbled my way to you blog and that is where I discovered Personal Demons. I didn't win your book, but went out to buy it. I think all your work paid off, I loved your book and can't wait for original sin. I enter contests all the time and follow blogs. I've won books from new authors that I am now hooked on :)

  11. Awesome post. We were just talking about this on #YALitchat last night.

    Thanks for sharing.


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