As a publicist at a large publishing house, my inclination has always been (and possibly will always be) that authors should more or less leave book promotion to the experts: book publicists (either in-house or those with book PR / PR firms). Publicists keep on top of the latest news, know how to craft pitches and press materials, work to establish — and maintain — contacts with the media, and have access to vast media databases. That having been said, I realize authors are playing a greater role in marketing and promoting their books — not to mention those authors who self publish — and there are, in fact, some sites / tools that specifically cater to those striking it out on their own (and which are pretty handy for book publicists too)!
Here are a few; feel free to add your own in the comments.
Booktour.com: As the name implies, the site lists author events around the country. It boasts several features I think helps set it apart from other event listing sites (and this is why I use the site religiously):
- Events listed on Booktour.com are automatically fed to many online calendars and also the Author Page on Amazon. In other words, when I spend time entering event information on Booktour.com, I know those details will not only be emailed to subscribers (a fairly typical feature for most such sites), but will also go to dozens of sites on the web.
- Booktour.com offers a widget that authors can grab for their websites. Instead of painstakingly updating the events section each time an additional event is booked or a time or venue is changed, an author simply needs to drop in a line of code on their website and if the publicist is using Booktour.com, the events will automatically update.
- Booktour.com also offers various other events and media services that authors might find helpful.
Maestro Market: You can think of Maestro Market as an online speakers bureau. However, unlike most speakers bureaus / lecture agencies which will only take on well-known clients, anyone can sign up to be a “Maestro.” They key is to properly tag yourself so that you can be found by people seeking speakers / experts. The site is currently in beta and should be relaunching later this year.
Square: a small device that plugs in to your iPhone / iPad / iPod Touch / Android phone that enables you to accept credit card payments. You open an account on their website and download the app, they mail you the device (for free) and you’re good to go. They take 2.75 percent of each transaction. I haven’t had an occasion to use this, but it seems like it would come in pretty handy for authors selling books at events (or for booksellers who don’t want to lug around a credit card machine).
Google Alerts: You can sign up for Google Alerts for free, even if you don’t have a Google / Gmail account (although, given the amount of free services Google provides from email to document sharing to e-commerce, I’m not sure why you wouldn’t have an account)! The alerts allow you to track any online mentions of a name, title, term, phrase, etc. Set up one for your name so you can see when / where you’re mentioned and, if applicable, set up one for any topics or phrases that pertain to your book so you’re aware of what the media is covering and where you might fit in.
HARO / Reporter Connection: Both sites allow you to sign up as a source, i.e., author (or as a journalist if you’re looking for a source). Once you’re in their databases, reporters looking for an expert in your field will be able to find you. As a book publicist, I find these sites useful because I get to see numerous reporter queries so I can suggest one of my authors if their field of expertise is a good fit.
Who’s tried these sites? What do you think? Any others you like?