How To Market Your Book in Newsgroups
As if marketing your book weren't difficult enough, now here comes the Internet, a new but incredibly prominent channel through which marketing can be accomplished. At first glance, the Internet simply presents yet another arena in which authors could potentially feel left out, or even helpless. With a little knowledge, however, you can easily make the Internet work for you.
A good place to start is with newsgroups which are both plentiful and specific — there are even newsgroups dedicated to a single author or book. Where, then, do you find the newsgroup that's right for promoting your book? Most ISPs give you access to Usenet, the largest pool of newsgroups available. For example, America Online allows you access to newsgroups by clicking "Internet" and then "Newsgroups." Once you've gained access, the next step is to browse the list of newsgroups, which, at a glance, seems like a mammoth task. Most newsgroup interfaces will allow you to search the list of groups by keyword, so you might try searching for "books," "authors," or even "publish." If you're determined enough, you can actually scroll the list of thousands upon thousands of these groups. No matter how you go about searching for the right group, you are bound to eventually find one that can work for you.
Once you've found your group, spend some time lurking. Lurking is hanging out in a group, reading the messages, but not posting anything yourself. Most newsgroup veterans will lurk for a few days, some even for a few weeks, before joining in. This is important for many reasons: It will, for one, give you a chance to read the posts in the group and get a feel for the mood. Lurk for a while — there is no right or wrong amount of time — until you are comfortable with the group and have a good idea that your book might appeal to the people there.
Now comes the post. When you post to the group, bear in mind one all-important thought: Newsgroups loathe advertising. They don't want ads, they want appealing ideas and interesting people. So how do you turn people onto your book without advertising? Newsgroup veterans are very savvy in detecting even the most subtle ads, so keep your tone conversational instead of promotional. Introduce yourself, provide some basic information about your background, and make sure to include that you are a writer, whether by profession or simply by passion. If you are patient enough, it can be worthwhile to leave your post at that — without even mentioning your book — and give the group a chance to receive you. This can often provide enough feedback to know whether it's worth your spending any more time at the group.
Next is the critical step of introducing your book without advertising or promoting it. One way to do this is to relate the post of another group member to a situation or event that takes place in your book. Another effective way to do this is to simply tell the group that you have just finished your book, you are excited about it, and you can't help but give a brief synopsis about it. This step, again, is not yet truly endorsing your work; rather, it's a continuation of the early steps you took in putting your feelers out and seeing how you and your ideas are received.
You get the idea — slowly inundate yourself, then your book itself, into the group. Use your powers of perception, and when you feel that you're at the right comfort level, you can create a post that simply asks if anyone would be interested in reading what you've written. If you've been successful enough in making friends with the members of the group, you may be lucky enough that the members ask you about getting a hold of your book before you even bring this up. Regardless, once you've generated relationships with the other group members, and they have familiarity with you and your book, only then should you provide ordering information. The last step is this: Once you've generated some positive feedback about your book, and maybe even sold some copies through the newsgroup, you can add your ordering information to your signature file (the standard signature that automatically ends every post you make to the group). By this point, group members know you, and will not react to you as they would a spammer or advertiser.
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