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How to promote your book: event review
Friday, March 7, 2014 (All day)
Panelists Paul Lima, Hannah Hoag, Georgie Binks and Sarah Elton at PWAC Toronto Chapter's seminar, How to Promote Your Book

PWAC Toronto Chapter’s Feb. 27 evening seminar, How to Promote Your Book, generated a cornucopia of wisdom for those who attended.

The panel featured four writers representing the worlds of fiction and non-fiction: Hannah Hoag (science writer and contributor to The Science Writers' Handbook: How to pitch, publish, and prosper in the digital age), Sarah Elton (in her 10th month of promotion for her latest book, Consumed: Food for a Finite Planet), Paul Lima (author of countless writing-related books) and Georgie Binks (author of the novel A Crack in the Pavement).

Venerable scribe (and former PWAC Toronto member) Paul Lima offered some solid, no-nonsense tips: make sure your book title clearly reflects your book contents, and offers good SEO (search engine optimization) possibilities. Be aware of who your intended audience is, use free social media to spread word of your book, and always have a marketing plan. Paul also suggested joining online chat groups or discussions related to the topic of your book to demonstrate your expertise on the subject matter as a way to boost sales.

Bestselling author Sarah Elton urged wannabe authors to start creating a buzz about their books a year in advance of any launch. While the publisher of her latest book, Consumed, arranged media interviews and sent review copies to critics, Sarah also did her own promotion. She discussed how she used social media and guest blog posts to boost sales. Be prepared to do lots of interviews, added Sarah, and try pitching media outlets with story ideas related to the topic of your book to drum up interest.

The take-home from novelist Georgie Binks' presentation was be fearless in your promotional efforts. Binks discussed how she aggressively marketed her book, dealing one-on-one with Chapter’s-Indigo managers to stock her book and host signings. Georgie spoke of pitching her book to total strangers, and using the Twitter hashtag #crack every time Toronto’s notorious mayor made the news. Georgie also discussed how she arranged a low-budget but highly impactful video about her book for Youtube.

Hannah Hoag outlined the genesis of The Science Writers’ Handbook, a compendium of wisdom from a range of scribes. For promotion purposes, Hoag and her cohorts put together a blog for the book, distributed copies to directors of science journalism programs, hosted several book launches across North America, attended several science conferences across North America, wrote essays and blog posts highlighting the book, and used social media to raise awareness and sales.
The Q and A following the panel discussion was lively, with audience members peppering the four authors with questions and comments.

Afterwards, some of the more hearty souls in the room walked down Bloor Street, in the face of intense cold, to partake of beverages, food and further conversation at Pauper’s Pub.

- Nate Hendley


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