WNBA-NYC member Lorraine Abramson has been successfully promoting her memoir, My Race: A Jewish Girl Growing Up Under Apartheid in South Africa (DBM Press, 2010), for over a year. Here are some of her thoughts on successful self-promotion.
After being told how difficult it will be for a first time, unknown author to find an agent, I decided to go in a different direction and seek out a smaller independent press. I attended the New York Center for Independent Publishing’s annual Book Expo because I knew that I’d be able to meet publishers face to face. I printed up a few copies of the first chapter of my manuscript and handed it to them personally, rather than sending it in the mail. One of the publishers from DBM Press loved my story, asked for the rest of the manuscript, and after reading it, he offered to publish my book!
My memoir has been out for just over a year now and we’re in the second printing. I’ve done over 80 speaking engagements with about 7 more booked so far. I did this on my own without an agent or a publicist.
Here are a few of my tips:
- Decide on your target audience. Because my book has a Jewish interest, I called many synagogues, Jewish Community Centers, Philanthropic organizations, book clubs, etc. Anyone who runs events and programs and need speakers.
- Never miss an opportunity to talk about your book to people you meet and have business cards in your pocket at all times.
- Always accept a speaking engagement no matter how small the group might be. One blustery snowy day I was due to talk to a senior group and only six people showed up! One of them was a member of Hadassah and through her I was invited to be the guest speaker of their Fall Luncheon with 150 people. From that event, 3 other invitations followed. So you never know who is in the audience!
- Attend all the WNBA events. It’s a perfect opportunity to network and learn. There are many editors, publicists, writers and published authors present. I’ve learned so much from talking to everyone and asking questions. Hand out your business cards.
- Create a “hook.” I needed to be able to tell what my book is about in one minute or less, in a way that would make the reader want to hear more.
- I attended the Query Roulette session that WNBA runs and that gave me a chance to talk to many publishers and agents. They helped me create a hook for my story.
- Be willing to travel for a speaking engagement. Each talk is an opportunity for exposure and one leads to the next.
- After my talks, when someone comes up to me, expressing an interest in recommending me as a speaker at a future event, I take their name and phone number, and I follow up with a call as a reminder. Don’t wait for them to call you. Be proactive.
- Get your family to help promote you! My husband, children, cousins, etc. all have my business cards and post my upcoming book talks on their Facebook pages. It reaches a very wide audience.
- Have fun and enjoy the book journey!
To learn more about Lorraine Abramson, visit her website at www.lorrainesbook.com.