Advice: How Do You Promote a Chapbook?

So, any day now (well, probably around June 1), my chapbook Secret Rivers will come out, from the fabulous Evening Street Press. (Oh, hey, and it’s available for preorder there.) From any of you who have done one of these before, I could use some promotion tips. I don’t want it to just lie there, but here’s the thing: I’m reeeeeally introverted and not given to self-promotion — despite all my blah-blah here and on Facebook and Twitter. Do I walk into my neighborhood bookstore and ask them to stock a few, or is this just “not done” — like, so “not done” that I’ll be laughed out of the store? Not really … but you know what I mean.

Also, I could swear I saw something here on WordPress about bloggers who are authors with things currently out. Does anyone know what I mean, and how I go about telling them, “Me, too?” Also, here is a stupid WordPress question that might vary a lot depending on what theme you use: How do I put the cover image somewhere on my blog, with info on how to order, so that it lives there until I decide it’s no longer needed? (Which would be “never,” or until it sells out — whichever comes first.)

I know I need to line up a reading or two — and this will involve (erk) talking to people and asking if I can do this at their space. I’m on this part. Sort of.

But I keep thinking that there may be other great ways to promote a chapbook, and I’m just not thinking of them. I do not want to fall down in the hustle department. So … How do you promote a chapbook, anyway? Thanks for any ideas!

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10 thoughts on “Advice: How Do You Promote a Chapbook?

  1. So exciting–it’s coming out June 1, right? Woohoooo!

    So, bookstores: yes, absolutely. Ask your neighborhood bookstore if they have a consignment program. Typically, the bookstore keeps 40% (but hey, you aren’t in poetry to get rich, right?). Don’t take it personally if bookstore says no; consignment programs are labor-intensive for bookstores to maintain, so most don’t bother. Just keep calling independent bookstores–hopefully, Chicago still has several?–until one says yes.

    More shortly…

  2. As to putting your cover image on your blog: Go into your Dashboard in WordPress; then click on Appearance, then Widgets. My theme has a “Sidebar” option that lets me put in text, images, links, etc.–hopefully your theme provides this, too.

  3. As to being an introvert and reluctance to self-promote: ah, I hear you. I have to always remind myself what a mentor, Luci Shaw, told me: as writers/artists, we need to be ambitious not for ourselves, but for our WORK. What we make needs to be promoted so that it will find an audience. Therefore, do trumpet the news here, and on FB and Twitter. Every *event* is worth posting about: anticipating the release (like, this week), the release, the going-up-for-sale dates at the press website and the bookstore, readings.

    • It all feels weirdly self-congratulatory, or like I’m fishing for “likes” at every minor step in the process. But you’re right — I should use the channels where I already am.

  4. Since your press will be giving you a substantial number of copies (25?), you get to decide how many you want to send out to reviewers (like NewPages) and/or give away instead of sell.

    One thing I haven’t taken the time to do yet, but that counts as an “event” when you have a lull between other “events,” is a book giveaway via social media to generate “buzz.” How it works is, you announce the giveaway a week or two in advance on Twitter, FB, and blog; ask people to comment to your posts if they’d like to enter to win a copy of your chapbook, and ask your social-media contacts (e.g., me) to spread the word by re-posting. On the appointed day, hold a drawing to determine the winner. Make sure purchase options are clearly displayed on your social-media sites/updates so that those who don’t win the free copy will see how they can purchase the book instead.

    Also, talk with your publisher to get their recommendations for marketing. It’s a nice gesture to link to their ordering page on your blog; they may have additional suggestions as well, especially as to where you might send copies for possible review. (Getting poetry books reviewed is hard, and getting chapbooks reviewed is harder–but it still may be worth trying for.)

    • Reviews … I hadn’t even thought of that. I have seen people do contests before, and it does seem to get a lot of attention. And you’re right that the publisher likely has some great ideas, too. Thank you (x5) for giving me so many suggestions and things to think about! I appreciate it.

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