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The Magic of Cross-Promotion How To Do It Frugally Style

A Retrospective of the Doings at the LA Times Festival of Books

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

How do Book Fairs Stack Up? Q&A A La Ann Landers

Question: I have so many expenses and so little money. Do you think [a book fair] would be a good investment or should I save my money for mailing, like to libraries or indie bookstores?

Carolyn's Answer: Try, as THE FRUGAL BOOK PROMOTER suggests, not to use your money for promotion that can be done as well or even almost as well online. Use Google to the max. Glean the e-mail addresses from indie bookstores and libraries and send out your releases (both the release about your book's release and about your author-appearance at this--or any other--fair) by e-mail.

Question: Also, I get a better discount on my first order of books than thereafter and I was thinking I should buy as many as possible [with the money I have available].

Carolyn Answers: Buying books at a greater discount works pretty well but not if it leaves you without the funds you need for other important promotion. Promotion first. You won't sell the books you buy if you don't promote.

Question: There are also so may places to spend money in marketing -- like buying adwords and keywords.

Carolyn Answers: You can do something similar to Adwords without spending money. It's only similar but will work until you have some cash flow going for your book. Use the features on Amazon. The keywords feature. The help search feature. Listmania. So You'd Like Tos... Amazon is where readers hang out anyway. So read the chapters on that in your THE FRUGAL BOOK PROMOTER and spend some time exploring the Amazon possibilities.

Question: Where do you think the book fair stands among all these things?

Carolyn Answers: That's a tough question. I do know that book fairs only work as well as you work them. That is true of any kind of promotion, professional organization, etc. Unless you're going to get that media release written and disseminated using the list on the Resources for Writers page my site, unless you're going to use your list serve groups (like our private (a group of those who have taken my classes at UCLA) to let people know you'll be at the fair, unless you send your friends and contacts invitations to tell them you'll be there, etc. etc., it won't work at all. I've seen authors who do all these things, do really, really well (maybe sell 20 or 30 books and make important contacts to boot!). People who don't are lucky to sell 2 books. it's all about promoton, truly.

So, the choice is yours but I wouldn't be spending money to do by mail what you can do free by e-mail! (-: That's for sure!

Carolyn Howard-Johnson

Questions Submitted by Alexa Wolf, author

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