Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Your Book Promotion: Figuring the Angles

People seem to hate the word "angles" even more than they hate the word "sell." It seems to me that the Western world would go to ruin if it weren't for the latter word and the latter world could not exist without the former. So, put your prejudices about the crass sound of the word "angles" for a minute and let's talk.

"Angles" are about finding whatever you can in the news that relates to your book (or your business) to help you promote it.

I am always amazed when authors (and other people in business) have trouble figuring this out. After all, who knows one's own novel or book or short story or memoir or nonfiction how-to better than the author?

Not only do I year the word "Yuck," when I use the word "angles," I hear over and over again how there is never anything in the news that can make a difference for their books. I suspect that's because authors think of their books only as genres. Thus, Valentine's Day is the only day they can think of that will help their romance novels.

No! You have to dig deeper.

What is the theme? What is the profession of the protagonist? Is there a dog in your book? What breed is he? Is there a gay character in it? A . . . ahem, weight challenged person? Someone with Alzheimer's?

If your book is nonfiction, think of the keywords you'd use for it on Amazon. Look at the contents and dissect each chapter and read trade magazines or other periodicals related to your subject matter.

The last few weeks have been big ones for my novel This is the Place. Everyone seems to be talking about the news of the trial of the YFZ polygamist cult in Texas these days. That news can be worked to get my This Is the Place noticed. But here's the thing. I would have missed something if I'd just said, "Aha! Polygamy! Time to get rolling on promoting my book again." No, there are so many other issues. The repression of women (This is the Place is a novel women in the 50s, and yes, women were repressed then). Tolerance (This Is the Place is about acceptance of others and it seems that now is a good time to look with compassion on these women and men who -- even though they may have broken laws -- may be doing so out of ignorance). What about the misunderstandings involved in how this group relates to mainstream Mormonism? What about the issue of how radical religions often suppress freedom of thought and speech?

Each one of those questions might result in the distribution of articles on the subject. Or serve as a talking point for a radio or TV interview, like the one I just did on Power Talk.

Each book out there is different. If you can't examine the fine points of what's in your book in relation to the news, who then? You are the one who can come up with a perspective and act on it (Now! Please! While the news is still fresh!).

Or, if you have a publicist, it is up to you to contact him or her and let him know about the opportunity that has arisen.

Your assignment, should you choose to accept it, is to read the newspaper every day with your book in mind. I know you can find at least one glorious tie-in to your book in any given week.

Happy promoting! And yes, writing and editing, too!

Carolyn Howard-Johnson
Websites: http://carolynhoward-Johnson.com (literary)
http://HowToDoItFrugally.com (all things about writing)
Authors' Coalition: http://www.AuthorsCoalitionandRedEnginepress.com
For the Frugal Editor, Amazon-direct: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0978515870/
Blogs: http://AuthorsCoalition.blogspot.com, a blog focused on book fairs
http://www.SharingwithWriters.blogspot.com, a blog on all things publishing
http://www.TheNewBookReview.blogspot.com, a blog focused on YOUR reviews
http://www.TheFrugalEditor.blogspot.com, a blog focused on editing, formatting and craft
And now blogging on War. Peace. Tolerance. And Our Soldiers at http://www.warpeacetolerance.blogspot.com.
And now! Squidooing at
http://www.squidoo.com/HowToDoItFrugallyforAuthors
and http://www.squidoo.com/carolynhoward-johnson

PS: This is Book Expo America! season. If you don't know about it, learn as much as you can about how it works. In future issues of my newsletter, Sharing with Writers, I'll be covering some ways you can make tradeshows like this work for you and how they won't work for you as well. In the meantime, if you can possibly visit the one coming up at the Los Angeles Convention Center, do it! This is publishing and learning at its finest.

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Carolyn Howard-Johnson, author THIS IS THE PLACE; HARKENING: A COLLECTION OF STORIES REMEMBERED; TRACINGS, a chapbook of poetry; and two how to books, THE FRUGAL BOOK PROMOTER: HOW TO DO WHAT YOUR PUBLISHER WON'T; and THE FRUGAL EDITOR: PUT YOUR BEST BOOK FORWARD TO AVOID HUMILIATION AND ENSURE SUCCESS.
Her other blogs include TheNewBookReview.blogspot.com and AuthorsCoalition.blogspot.com, a blog that helps writers and publishers turn a ho-hum book fair booth into a sizzler.

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