How Successful Authors Are Promoting Their Books

A GREAT article was released over the weekend in the Houston Chronicle. In it, they covered a variety of authors and the creative things each of them are doing to promote their books. Here are some highlights … don’t be afraid to steal ideas!

Kayt Sukel
Author of Dirty Minds: How Our Brains Influence Love, Sex and Relationships
Release date: January 3, 2012

  • We kid you not …Kayt Sukel stimulated herself to orgasm while an fMRI scanner tracked the flow of blood to her brain. Her first-person story about this ordinarily intimate act appeared in New Scientist in May, under the headline “Sex on the Brain.” Talk about a viral book promotion!
  • Sukel tweeted questions to her followers, hoping to elicit comments that might provide fodder for the book.
  • She held contests on the book’s Facebook page, “This Is Your Brain on Love.”
  • When a similar orgasm story surfaced — this time with a video (of someone else) from the same New Jersey lab — Sukel blogged about it from a new angle.
  • On Jan. 3, when Dirty Minds was released, Sukel hosted a lively Twitter chat.
  • She is currently working on writing another piece for CNN about her research.

Rebecca Skloot
Author of The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks
Release date: February, 2010

  • Fast fact: Rebecca was actually Kayt’s inspiration!
  • Rebecca began reviewing books, using her own book’s title in the tagline of her reviews for publicity.
  • While she was working on her book, Rebecca started doing some freelance writing for O, the Oprah Magazine. As she got to know the editors, she took every opportunity to chat up her book and — not surprisingly — O agreed to excerpt the book when it was released in February 2010.
  • After the book’s release, she did more than 200 speaking events. Two years later, she’s still on tour today.

Mat Johnson
Author of Pym
Release date: 2010

  • Mat built himself quite a twitter following. As a creative writing professor, he built 40,000 followers. As a humorist, he built “a loyal, literary audience made up of magazine and newspaper writers, other fiction writers, even celebrities.” Together, he has a vast audience of fans of his writing and fans of his tweeting … that translates into book sales.
  • His humorous tweets, of course, all include some degree of self promotion. And retweeting doesn’t hurt either … many of his posts are retweeted and shared with an even larger audience

Tom Zoellner
Author of A Safeway in Arizona: What the Gabrielle Giffords Shooting Tells Us About the Grand Canyon State and Life in America.
Release date: 2011

  • Given the serious nature of the book, Tom decided against using social media to promote it.
  • Instead, the former journalist wrote opinion pieces and reported stories for a number of publications. All of them, of course, included elements from the book.
  • Several years before, he had appeared on the Daily Show with Jon Stewart to promote his 2009 title, Uranium. And there’s no denying: TV scoops up a broader range of viewers than a Twitter feed or a Facebook page.

Justin Cronin
Author of The Passage
Release date: 2010

  • With the full support of his publisher, Ballantine (which promoted The Passage at BookExpo America, by the way), Justin produced video trailers, and explored alternative advertising — including phone kiosk signs in New York and billboards in Los Angeles.
  • Cronin landed an interview on TV’s Good Morning America the day the book was released.
  • What he didn’t expect was what happened during the interview … Stephen King would call in to praise The Passage. Cronin says of the unexpected surprise: it was nice to “have the hand of the great father” on his shoulder.

We should all be so lucky. But maybe one or two of these ideas can turn you into the next bestselling author.