The journey to getting a book published is a long one. It culminates with the editor saying that the final draft is complete and sets up the timeline for the book to move to the printer. But as soon as this moment comes, a whole new challenge awaits: promoting the finished product to a wide-ranging audience.
One great way to get the ball rolling with interested people is to hold a Skype Q+A with various groups. Depending on who the intended audience is, it could be a local library group, a college English class, or even a small book club. The key to holding a Skype Q+A is being willing to talk about your book and being a little selfish. The people who are talking with you want to know why you have the authority to write this book; what gives you the knowledge and experience to string words together into a wonderful novel, poetry collection, or short story collection. You need to be able to speak clearly on your experiences and provide a quick, but captivating summary. Doing this will lead to the questions.
It is essential to have questions prepared by the leader of the group whom you are speaking to. If none of the listeners can think of any immediately, the leader can smartly pop in and ask a question that may engage the others to ask their own questions. These can include how you got into writing, how the writing process happens for you, and how you handled sending out your work to publishers to read. I recommend discussing these questions with the leader prior to the Skype session so that you can have responses in mind and know how to switch gears or extend the answer into an important part you want to emphasize about your book. Obviously, you want to include pieces about your book to intrigue potential readers, but not to give too much away. Describe the main characters, some of the plot, and hint at a little bit of action. You can explain why you chose the narrative point of view that you did, and why that point of view makes the most sense. As the author, you have all the ability in the world to tell everything that is included in your book or feel the need to justify choices made in writing the book. But this is not about justifying your choices to potential readers. It is about intriguing these potential readers and connecting with them. Readers usually choose a book by only reading the back cover summary. This is the chance to connect with readers, allowing them to put a face to the name on the front of your beautiful new book. When readers know who wrote the book and feel connected to you, they are more likely to buy your book. They begin with their experience speaking with you, and then continue that into the words on the page.
It may be nerve-wracking to speak with people through a computer, possibly from one side of the country or the world to the other, but it is about building a platform and connection to people. Reading a book is all about the ability to move into the book and feel a part of the world that was created. Speaking with readers can help bring them closer to the page and provide a chance to make new friends. These friends have the greatest gift to help you as the author.
Word of mouth. Conversation and personal recommendation from people I trust are the easiest ways to convince me to read a book. Yes, some people look at the best-seller list and only read books from that list, but through word of mouth, many more people will pick up your book and give it a chance. So don’t be nervous speaking to these potential readers. You have the power to intrigue them and they will reward you by reading your book and convincing others to pick it up as well. Promoting your book may feel out of your comfort zone, but in the end it will all be worth it when people pick it up and enjoy reading it from cover to cover.