So you’ve written your book, you’ve decided on a publishing pathway, now you’ve got to get people to read it.
We’ve all heard of the famous authors and the queues of people waiting outside the high street stores on publication day. All you have to do is write a masterpiece and the public will flock to buy it, right?
If only! There are some hugely talented authors around who never achieve recognition because they haven’t caught the public’s imagination. Why?
So where do you start? If you have a literary agent or are signed to a mainstream publisher, they will take care of most of your publicity and marketing.
They will contact book retailers as well as local media in the hope of getting air-time or print space and will organise and publicise any book-signings. If you’re using a publishing service they may offer limited publicity and marketing as part of your package. Unfortunately even with good representation, without another claim to fame, many in the industry will take the view that there is nothing newsworthy in a nonentity writing a book.
An outstanding cover design. If you are self-publishing you need to source this yourself. The cost can vary between a few hundred and several thousand pounds. Get some recommendations before forking out more than you can afford. However, your book is competing with thousands of others so you may feel a quality eye-catching design is worth every penny you can spare.
Use your contacts. There is a fine line between publicising your work and intimidating people so don’t overdo it and remember there’s a limit to the number of times you can return to drink from the same well.
Use social media. Open or use existing accounts. Start a blog. Last year, I posted a Tweet which came to the notice of my old secondary school. As a result, I was invited to talk to the current crop of Key Stage 3 students and I’m now part of the school alumni.
Contact national/local newspapers/magazines. I wouldn’t advise sending copies of your novel on spec, as this could prove expensive with little reward. Approach publications with a demographic readership suited to your genre. You may have more success with local newspapers. I’ve been lucky enough to be supported by Sussex Living Magazine, a free publication with a circulation of almost 20,000. The month the magazine was released, I saw my sales rise significantly, so it does work!
Establish a partnership with an organisation. National charities are large businesses with corporate ideology and will not be interested in a partnership with you unless there is a substantial gain for them. If you can find a local charitable association or support group, preferably one with which you identify, this may well increase publicity and bring in some revenue for your adopted cause.
Print some business cards. Use contacts within your community; no harm in asking if you can leave cards with various retailers. I admit I shamelessly worked the congregation at my church and yes, I did give out a card or two at a funeral.
Spread the net. Check out libraries, book clubs, community groups and your local hospital radio. Contact any local independent bookshops in your area but beware of the amount of commission they expect in return.
On-line reviews. Ask your readers to leave a comment. Beware of social media sharks who follow you in the hope of selling you favourable reviews. Don’t allow your hard work to be compromised or discredited by trying to take shortcuts. If your book is good, you’ll will be rewarded on merit. I will look at reviews and how to deal with trolls in a separate blog.
The whole publicity and marketing aspect of publishing is daunting I know. However it does work! My publisher offered me a very attractive contract for my second novel based on the success of Long Shadows and Evil Echoes, a Victorian prequel, will be published soon.
So my advice is if you want to turn your writing hobby into a career as an author, then take advantage of every publicity and marketing opportunity and the very best of luck!