Guest Post: The Do's and Don'ts of Promoting Your Book Online by Karen Akins

Thank you so much for having me on your blog today to celebrate the release of LOOP!

In the past few weeks and months, I’ve learned some important lessons regarding the best and not-so-best ways to promote a book online. I am by no means an expert on social media, but unfortunately John Green was otherwise engaged, so you get me. J

DO…be authentic. When I was having my website re-designed (by the very talented Hafsah at Icey Designs, I debated going with a more gender neutral tone since LOOP has a lot of action that could appeal to male readers. But when it came down to it, the backgrounds that were more sci-fi’ish didn't match who I am. They were kind of hard around the edges. I like pink. I’m a fairly warm, bubbly person. We ended up landing on a fun, whimsical sci-fi theme centered around an illustration that my sister made of me.

I also try to be authentic in the content that I share. On my Instagram account and Facebook page I post a lot of day-to-day stuff. I’m a work-from-home mom (who doesn't stay home very much) so it’s mostly things that amuse me that my toddler has done or my six-year-old has said. I also tend to geek out about things that I love, so some of that, too. But I also like to share causes that I’m passionate about—literacy, adoption advocacy, education, domestic violence prevention and support for abused women.

DON’T…feel pressured to overshare. I’ve chosen not to use my children’s actual names online. Set the boundaries you feel comfy with and stick to them. I think it’s a balance you have to find, and it’s okay if it changes over time. Remember, the internet is forever.

DO…be specific in your requests. There’s a deafening roar of background noise on the internet. When I’m scrolling through my Twitter or Facebook feed, I see a lot of messages telling me about things (let’s use books for example), but they don’t follow through and ask me to act on their message. So for instance, there may be a tweet that says, “Do you like romantic comedies? You’ll love Cuddly Kissypants Goes to London!” with a link to Amazon. And here’s how I respond: “Yes, I do. Meh, maybe.” Not going to click.

(Seriously. Please do not ever name your book Cuddly Kissypants Goes to London. Because I’ve CALLED IT!)

But if you can be specific (and creative) in your request, that goes a long way in making that direct connection that you want to have. It cuts through some of the noise.

Ex.) On Facebook (and it spread to other social media sites with the hashtag #LOOParoundtheworldin50days), I made a bet with my husband that I could get this picture of myself to “travel” to all 50 states and 25 different countries in the 50 days leading up to LOOP’s release. I thought it would be a fun tie-in to the book because Shifters can travel anywhere in the world and to any time period.

It ended up taking less than two weeks. Over 9,000 people ended up seeing that picture. Crazy! And the funny part was that I assumed people would latch onto the donation part of the bet. Nope. Everyone wanted to see me sleep in for a month of Saturdays. (Which let me tell you, has been nice.)

DON’T…always ask for something. “But…but you just said—?” I know.

What I mean is be generous. Love your readers. They’re investing time and money and effort to read your book. Anytime I can give a little something back, whether it’s free Skype visits for book clubs or libraries (just e-mail me if you’re interested!), signed bookplate giveaways, free printables on my website www.karenakins.com (just because it’s fun), or complimentary LOOP swag packs for librarians, it’s a genuine joy for me.

DO…keep it simple.

I had this big idea for a promo for LOOP where I’d have people across the world hide geocaches that contained special QR codes that would link to exclusive bonus content and…and…and…

Yeah, it was a great idea if I had 37 hours in a day and a full-time staff.

But the core of that idea (the same one as above, that Shifters can go anywhere in the world and LOOP could pop up anywhere, too), I still loved. So I simplified it.

I’ve been posting pics of LOOP popping up in random places, and I’m asking readers to post their pics of LOOP around the world as well. I attached a hashtag … #LOOParoundtheworld, and it has the same feel of the original idea, only not horribly complicated. Add some incentive (In this case, a limited edition, signed & numbered LOOP bookplate that will go out to the first 250 people who post their #LOOParoundtheworld photos and fill out the form on my website.)

DON’T…invest in promotional efforts that drain you. There’s work involved in everything, but all the LOOP promo efforts I’ve mentioned in this post have been genuinely fun for me. People can tell when you’re not excited about something and having fun with it, and they will run the opposite direction.

DO…use lots of gif’s.

DON’T…be afraid to use lots of gif’s.

Thanks again for having me! I hope everyone enjoys LOOP.

About the book:
At a school where Quantum Paradox 101 is a required course and history field trips are literal, sixteen year-old time traveler Bree Bennis excels…at screwing up.

After Bree botches a solo midterm to the 21st century by accidentally taking a boy hostage (a teensy snafu), she stands to lose her scholarship. But when Bree sneaks back to talk the kid into keeping his yap shut, she doesn’t go back far enough. The boy, Finn, now three years older and hot as a solar flare, is convinced he’s in love with Bree, or rather, a future version of her that doesn’t think he’s a complete pain in the arse. To make matters worse, she inadvertently transports him back to the 23rd century with her. 

Once home, Bree discovers that a recent rash of accidents at her school are anything but accidental. Someone is attacking time travelers. As Bree and her temporal tagalong uncover seemingly unconnected clues—a broken bracelet, a missing data file, the art heist of the millennium—that lead to the person responsible, she alone has the knowledge to piece the puzzle together. Knowledge only one other person has. Her future self.

But when those clo
sest to her become the next victims, Bree realizes the attacker is willing to do anything to stop her. In the past, present, or future. 
About the author:
Karen Akins lives in the MidSouth where she writes humorous, light YA sci-fi. When not writing or reading, she loves lightsaber dueling with her two sons and forcing her husband to watch BBC shows with her. 

Karen has been many things in her life: an archery instructor, drummer for the shortest-lived garage band in history, and a shockingly bad tic-tac-toe player.

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