Tuesday, June 30, 2009

A Novel Approach: A Writer Finds her Audience

This article was published in my local paper when my first book debuted, two years ago. It still have some relevant ideas for authors and I thought it be help to pass on.

To me, book promotion feels like pushing a stubborn boulder up a if something works, I want to know about it and to share it! ~Suzanne Woods Fisher

A Novel Approach: A Writer Finds her Audience

Copper Star, a critically acclaimed World War II love story from local author Suzanne Woods Fisher, is the surprise summer hit of the season, climbing on the Publisher's Bestseller List the day it released. "The copies are flying off the shelf faster than the author can sign them," said Dawn Carrington, editor-in-chief of VR Publishing. A major motion picture studio is considering the film rights to Copper Star, and its sequel, Copper Fire, has already been contracted, set to release in early 2008. Lauren Duensing, owner of Sage Terrace, said that she was surprised how many copies of Copper Star flew out of her store. "Actually, they continue to fly out," she added. "But considering that I could not put down this wonderful summer `star' of a book, I understand its selling success. It's a great read.

"Getting published in today's competitive market is an achievement in itself, but most hopeful authors are unaware that an even bigger mountain to climb lies behind it: book promotion. "People assume that there is a large marketing budget available to support an author," Fisher explained, "but that's not true, unless your last name rhymes with `bowling'."

So how did Fisher break through?

After reading books on promotion, Fisher borrowed the concept of a `Street Team.' She sent letters out to friends across the country to help spread the word. She provided ten ideas, most of which took less than a minute. For example, Fisher offered postcards and postage for friends to mail to their friends. "It created a ripple effect across the country," she noted.

Fisher targeted book clubs by including a discussion guide at the back of Copper Star. To date, twenty-six book clubs have her book on their fall schedule. She booked speaking engagements with another author, such as a recent standing room-only event as at the Walnut Creek Barnes & Noble Bookstore on the topic: So…You Want to Be a Writer? "I think the key to its success was having a topic that many could relate to," explained Fisher.

She found that positive reviews posted on Amazon impacted sales. "Many people use those reviews—both editorial ones and customer reviews—as the deciding factor for a purchase." Another problem Fisher faced was industry bias against a small press. "I had trouble getting reviews from well known review sites," she said. "There was an inaccurate assumption that a small publisher meant it was a subsidy or vanity press."

Fortunately, the reviews Fisher did receive raved over Copper Star. Librus Lover Book Reviewer Carol Cushman wrote, "Suzanne Woods Fisher's first novel, Copper Star, is a shining example of today's fresh new emerging authors. She links different worlds in the unusual setting of an Arizona copper mining town while allowing us a glimpse into the world of a deaf child and the challenges that presents." Fisher offered parting advice for newly published novelists: "Try to complete at least five promotion tasks per day. Consider it part of your job. But only part! Don't let it take over your writing. You have to keep writing."

Suzanne was a contributing editor for Christian Parenting Today. Her work has appeared in Today's Christian Woman, Marriage Partnership, Worldwide Challenge, ParentLife, Chicken Soup for the Soul: Children with Special Needs and many others. Married with four children, Fisher lives in the San Francisco Bay Area. She raises puppies for Guide Dogs for the Blind. Copper Star is available here on Amazon.