Here are a few author success stories I shared a few years ago in my Book Marketing Tip of the Week newsletter. They're still relevant today, especially for novelists.
The following story came from book publicist Denise Cassino of
I recently got one of my young adult fantasy fiction authors a gig at a local grade school. She sent flyers a week in advance with purchase information. We set it for the last day before Thanksgiving break. There were 56 students and their parents there for a feast. Afterward, she did a book reading at which she offered a writing contest to the kids. Each student writes a story using her book's main characters. The teacher chooses the top 5 and sends them to the author who picks the best one. That winning student's name will be used for a character in her next book and will get to appear on the author's radio show! Way to keep the kids interested!
The following story was sent to me by a reader, Jessica James, author of Shades of Gray: A Novel of the Civil War in Virginia:
Every author trying to market a book has probably heard these words of advice: Tie your book to a current news event. If you write fiction, that is sometimes hard to do, but by no means impossible.
Historical fiction author Jessica James found a way to connect her Civil War novel with the hoopla surrounding the recent presidential election by conducting a poll on her website asking readers to choose the literary character they thought had the qualities to make a great president.
One of the characters from Shades of Gray ended up coming in third, but that was just icing on the cake. What mattered was that many newspapers ran portions of the press release and online sites linked back to Jessica's website for the full story. A few days after the election her historical fiction novel was in the top 10 on Amazon in the Romance/Historical category.
Atticus Finch from To Kill a Mockingbird won her presidential poll by a wide margin. The full results of the poll are still listed at her website: http://www.jessicajamesbooks.com, and a full story can be found on her Civil War blog at http://www.jessicajamesblog.com.
The following story was sent to me by a reader, Doreen Orion:
I saw your newsletter note about the author in Hawaii. What I did on my book tour was contact hotels near my signing (as well as the one I was staying in, of course) and speak to the concierge. They are always being asked by their guests what there is to do in town. I told them about the signing and asked for their fax number. Then, I faxed them a flyer.
My book, Queen of the Road, went into 6th printing after only 3 months out. When I thanked my editor at Doubleday, she said, “I think you only have yourself to thank.”
John's comment: An active author is the greatest blessing a publisher can have. Active authors sell books.