Shining the Book Promotion Spotlight on Fiction Author U.L. Harper

U.L. Harper is an after-school program Site Director in Long Beach, California. He is a former reporter in Los Alamitos, California. For a year he co-published a chapbook The Body Politic. His current novel is The Flesh Statue. Find out more about U.L. and his novel at http://ulharper.com.

Welcome to Book Marketing Buzz, U.L.. Can we begin by having you tell us a little about your book?

The Flesh Statue is an old-fashioned coming of age story with a whole lot of not so old-fashioned things happening. People are going to the revolution but for only a week. The main character’s grandmother is practically murdering his ailing grandfather. And then there’s Bert who is learning that he’ll make more money at his auto body repair shop if he just dents the cars himself. It’s things like this that make the story customized to my liking.

What is the first thing you did to promote your book once your publisher accepted your manuscript?

It was 2005 and 1999 wasn’t too far off so I did that. I partied as if it were 1999.

If you had to pick just one book marketing tool that you’ve used to promote your book, which would you say has been the most effective?

I gathered a group of artists, musicians and poets to perform at my events. We flyer the event and plan it like it’s a concert. If I want, depending on the venue, I can switch out the artists. I always get a new or slightly different audience and it’s always more than I would get at a typical reading. This isn’t to mention the connections I make. It’s like being my own publicist. My first traditional reading had about 12 people. The one with the artists have 35 to 40 people.

Do you do more promoting online or offline and which do you prefer?

I promote plenty online, on all the social websites and on my website and whatever but it’s hard to sell myself online. I prefer live, although it’s much more nerve racking. I like to see the people. Once they hear me speak they seem interested in me. I’m learning that you sell yourself, not just your book.

Do you use social networks such as Twitter and Facebook to promote your books and have you had any success with it?

I use twitter, facebook, goodreads, a little authonomy but not really, and Myspace. I’m not going to say it’s been unsuccessful but, really, I don’t feel so successful with these things. Sometimes I think you don’t get popular on these sites but after you’re popular you can maintain your status on these sites. I’ve made some breakthroughs on goodreads.com but it’s not like I’m selling books because of my membership there. Though it is fun which counts for something.

Do you own a blog and how often do you update it? Did you set up your blog solely to promote your book and what is its effectiveness?

Beginning in April I’m going to start interviewing book bloggers on my blog and that is to attract those who might write about me to my website. It will be updated frequently merely because the nature of it. Out of default I’ll be promoting my book. The banner will have the title in it and there will be video. Should be fun! Stop by.

Do you recommend authors getting publicists to help them promote their books? Do you have one?

I hired Pump Up Your Books for my virtual book tour. I did this to get my feet wet. They do publicity. However, originally I shied away from publicists because the ones I spoke with weren’t offering too much, keeping in mind their prices. I work 40 hours a week so I didn’t necessarily have the time for what they offered and realistically all these things I could have done myself…and do. However, the virtual tour is more on my time.

If an author prefers to do it alone rather than hire a publicist, where should they start?

Start online. Make your own contacts. Take your own time to make time and make connections. Go to events and meet people there. See what steps they took to make the event successful. Take some time to find your niche on how ou want to do things. It’s much better than working hard to do things someone elses way just for them to leave you alone once you stop paying them.

Thank you for coming, U.L.! We wish you much success!

I hope the best for you and your family as well.

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