Wednesday 20 October 2010

Promoting Your Book

Many writers think that the publication of a book is the end of the process. After that it’s just a case of sitting back and waiting the royalty cheques.


It’s just the beginning. Once the book is out there people have to buy it, and to do it, they need to know it’s there and be convinced. Many writers with small, independent publishers know their publisher has no promotional budget. Even those with big publishers can find themselves not being pushed. So who’s going to take on the load? The writer. After all, it’s your book.

Contacts are important. In my case, I’d done some writing for a regional paper. When The Broken Token was published the paper did a short feature on me (I had a hook to the story, which made it more attractive to them). Since I also work as a music journalist, I was able to find another general writer at another paper through musician friends. That brought another piece with the great pull quote that my historical mystery “reads like an 18th century Red Riding.” Not true, of course, but it sounds good.

The point is to use the contacts that you have. It might take some persistence, but it does help sales. You have to make yourself visible. Use those publicity copies wisely to go to people you feel can help.

Plenty of people blog about writing. They want to review books, do interviews with writers. Research, find out who these people are and contact them. Word your query in such a way as to make your book and yourself fascinating (well, you’re a writer, you can do that). Not everyone will agree, but every time someone does, it’s more publicity.

Create a website. With all the software around these days, it’s easy to do. It doesn’t need to be huge, it simply needs to be attractive and do the job, telling people about the book, where to buy it. Use Facebook – have a Facebook page for your book. Get yourself on Twitter, an excellent way to network. Start blogging, too. It doesn’t all have to be about your book. Again, it’s getting your name out there.

Record an extract from your book, a self-contained piece running 5-7 minutes. Add a slideshow of pictures and put it up on You Tube. It’s one other weapon in your arsenal.

Bookshops love authors. Contact some of the small ones near you and say you’d be interested in doing a book signing there. Go in and sell yourself to them. Contact Waterstone’s, too. They generally have local writers in on Saturday mornings to do signings. You might need to contact them several times to elicit a response but it’s worthwhile.

When you do a signing don’t just sit at a table and wait for people to approach you. Unless you’re a big name, that won’t happen. Grab a couple of copies of your book, head off to the relevant section (such as mysteries) and start talking to people. You need to be outgoing and friendly. Convince them to take a punt on your book. It can work – at the Leeds Waterstone’s in August I sold out their stock of my book, 14 copies, in an hour. That astonished me. But if I can do it, anyone else can.

Contact the small literary festivals in your area. Talk to the organisers and it can result in an invitation. Maybe not this year, but possibly next.

Libraries need speakers for groups. Contact the person in your area who’s in charge of this. Send a copy of your book and offer your services. You might not get paid, but you can sell copies of the book after. Most people will buy, and it can be fun to do.

All of these things require effort, of course, but the outlay is minimal. It all helps to make people aware of your book, and of you as an author. Every single copy sold is a victory. Enjoy every single one. Put as much effort into selling your book as you did into writing it.

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