Author Interview: Meredith Mileti

What was your experience like marketing yourself and your book, prior to and after your book being published?

I really didn’t have any experience marketing myself (or anything else, for that matter) before I sold my book.  One of the first things my agent did after I sold Aftertaste was to send me to “social media camp,” an online webinar for first time authors, like me, who needed to understand the marketplace better. We learned about the importance of building a website—and a following—before the book is released.  It also educated us about how and why various sites are important for writers, how to decide who your target market is, and how to maximize your exposure to that market through tools like Facebook and Twitter.  Before taking that webinar I had used Facebook mostly just to spy on my kids.  I had a lot to learn!

It seems that online book tours or Q&A's through websites like Goodreads are the way to go these days.  Which route did you go and what was your experience like?

I agree.  I had a very positive experience doing a virtual book tour.  In the weeks preceding the book launch, my publisher sent out advance copies of Aftertaste to book bloggers and set up giveaways on popular book sites, like Goodreads.  This was useful for getting the momentum going pre-publication.  Since Aftertaste is a novel about a woman chef, we had another built-in market to tap—foodies.  There are so many wonderful well-trafficked food blogs, and recipe-sharing sites, and many of them were happy to host giveaways, review books and post interviews. With the help of an outside publicist, we identified fifty popular blogs, some of which were straight book review sites in my genre, some of which were food blogs and some of which bridged the gap between the two.  We started contacting them offering free giveaways in exchange for a review (of course, it’s always a bit of a gamble—you hope they like your book, but obviously you have to take the good with the bad!).  I also volunteered to do guest posts or interviews wherever requested.

I love Goodreads and have been a member for quite a while.  I’m also a member of Shelfari and LibraryThing. These sites are wonderful for engaging with readers and other writers.  I hosted giveaways, and contributed blog posts, and did open Q&As, which were other great ways to build pre-publication momentum.

What do you think works and does not work?

For me, it’s a little too early to tell what works and what doesn’t. Aftertaste was released in September.  I’ve been thrilled that sales have been steadily increasing. There are an overwhelming number of online opportunities to promote your work and you can easily make promotion a full time job.  If you want to continue writing, however, at some point you have to start rationing your time and deciding what you can reasonably handle.  It helps to set some time aside each day to focus on promoting your work through whichever social media sites you are most comfortable with.  At the end of the day, it will really help to promote you as a writer if you release more books, which somehow have to get written!

Did you do any book signings in person at bookstores?

Yes, I did quite a few, and I don’t think there is any substitute for meeting readers and talking with them directly.  Sometimes the events were well attended, but not always.  Still, it was an opportunity to meet readers and booksellers and make a personal connection.  Whenever I visit a city, I try to set something up on my own, or, at a minimum stop into local bookstores, introduce myself and offer to sign their stock.  It’s important to build relationships, not only with readers, but with booksellers, as well.  

Maybe it has to do with my background in psychology, but I feel as if the personal connection is key.  I answer every email or letter I receive, and try to maintain connections with many of the book clubs I visit.  I love meeting my readers.  It’s one of the many wonderful perks of the job.

How much did your publishing company assist in getting the word out about you?

Not very much.  Publishing is changing and writers have to be willing to take on the lion’s share of the promotion themselves.  Publishers today simply don’t have the resources to promote you to the degree you would like them to.  What they can do, however, is sell your book to bookstores, and try to get those bookstores excited about your book.

How do you keep your name and your book out there post-launch?

I’ve been doing lots of book club visits in the last few months, between 2 and 3 a week!  I also accept a lot of speaking engagements and have been promoted by a number of newspapers and magazines.  These are all great ways to keep your name out there and to connect with readers who are interested in your work. I also try to devote some time each day to Twitter, Facebook and my various book-related sites. 

Thank you, Cindy, for interviewing Meredith! And thank you, Meredith, for answering the questions!  
Please leave a comment to be entered to win a paperback copy of Aftertaste. Be sure to include your email address or social media account so you can be contacted if you win. The winner will be chosen at random on Wednesday, June 20th.