Thursday, November 22, 2007

Guest blogger and horror author Mayra Calvani discusses book marketing

On the marketing of Dark Lullaby...

My latest release, Dark Lullaby, is a supernatural thriller about a young astrophysicist who is lured into the Turkish countryside by a beautiful woman who ends up being not what she appears to be. It is a bizarre, atmospheric horror tale that deals with the controversial concept of a ‘higher good’.

I was lucky in that the book was released in September, so close to Halloween. Normally it had been scheduled to be released in the Spring of 2008, but my publisher saw the advantage of the horror-book/Halloween connection. I was thrilled by the news and immediately planned my virtual book tour for the month of October.

My promotional efforts began last year. Even before I was offered a publishing contract, I had already posted an excerpt of the novel on my website, blog, and newsletter. When I signed the contract, I announced it via my blog and newsletter as well. Then, as soon as I had the cover art this past summer, I began to post it and talk about it on different writing/marketing sites, forums and groups. Some of these are:

I also posted on the forums of organizations I belong to, like Broad Universe, as well as on my various publishers’ author forums.

Having a newsletter is very important and since I had been talking about Dark Lullaby for so long, my readers were expecting its publication by the time it came out. My virtual book tour, arranged by Dorothy Thompson at PumpUpYourBookPromotion started on October 1st and ended on the 30th, so it was a tough, hectic month and answering all the interviews in time was quite stressful. Advice: Don’t leave them for the last minute! They usually take a lot longer than you might think. In fact, they can be VERY exhausting, especially if you already have a busy schedule.

Of course, once I had the full virtual book schedule, I posted it on my website and blog and let my subscribers know via my October Halloween Special newsletter. But this doesn’t end here. You have to lure people into reading your guest posts and interviews, right? So I tried to announce my stops daily in as many places as time allowed me. It was tiring work but also rewarding. A promotional weapon I used to persuade people to follow me during the tour was a prize—in this case a free print copy of Dark Lullaby. A prize, which doesn’t necessarily have to be a book, serves as an incentive for people to read your posts and leave comments. (I later learned that giving a copy of your book isn’t a good idea—you may offer a copy, but not of the book you’re promoting on the tour. Why will people buy a copy when they think they might win it instead?)

Another thing I did before the release of my book was contacting reviewers and asking for reviews. As soon as I received a review, I made a big deal of it by posting it on my website, blogs, and all the venues I mentioned earlier. The more reviews, the better. I also asked reviewers to please post their reviews on Amazon.

One of the most powerful ways I know to bring traffic to my website—and therefore my books—is to write articles (these may be author interviews and reviews as well) and distribute them via various article sites like:

These are just a few; there are dozens of great article distributors online.

I also write regularly for and Never underestimate the power of a byline complete with all your important links! Traffic to my website has grown exponentially after I began distributing my articles early this year. This past month I got over 10,000 hits, and that’s not bad at all for an unknown author with only two books out by small presses.

The only downside so far has been that my book is available on Amazon but only via their “other sellers” and not via Amazon itself. In other words, my publisher, Whiskey Creek Press, is selling the book under Amazon’s ‘used and new’ section. The reason is that where Amazon to put a price on it, it would be over $20, and nobody will pay that much for a short paperback novel. The best, of course, is to buy the book from the publisher’s site, which means lower price for the customer and higher royalties for me. :-)

The other disadvantage I have is that, since I live in Belgium, I’m not able to attend conferences or do much in the case of book signings. I try to make up for this by being an aggressive online promoter.

Now that the tour passed, I’m trying to come up with new ways to market Dark Lullaby. One thing I am doing is putting together a mailing list of independent horror bookstores in the US and the UK. I plan to contact them individually and send them a postcard of the book. I also placed a 3-month ad on the Horror Writers of America monthly newsletter.

With so many books published each year, there’s so much competition these days, book promotion is a must if you want your book to be even minimally successful. Luckily, the Internet offers a wealth of information and opportunities to authors. The secret is to embrace them, not be afraid, and dive into them.

Mayra Calvani is a multi-genre author and book reviewer. Visit her website at

Blurb from Dark Lullaby:

At a trendy Turkish tavern one Friday night, astrophysicist Gabriel Diaz meets a mysterious young woman. Captivated by her beauty as well as her views on good and evil, he spends the next several days with her. Soon, however, he begins to notice a strangeness in her--her skin's abnormally high temperature, her obsession with milk products, her child-like and bizarre behavior as she seems to take pleasure in toying with his conscience.

The young woman, Kamilah, invites him to Rize, Turkey, where she claims her family owns a cottage in the woods. In spite of his heavy workload and the disturbing visions and nightmares about his sister's baby that is due to be born soon, Gabriel agrees to go with her. But nothing, not even the stunning splendour of the Black Sea, can disguise the horror of her nature. In a place where death dwells and illusion and reality seem as one, Gabriel must now come to terms with his own demons in order to save his sister's unborn child, and ultimately, his own soul…

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