Now that I have a new novel out, it’s time to think about promoting it, right?
Actually, one has to think about promoting a novel before one starts writing it. Probably, the first question to ask is: who’s going to read it?
Let me give you a summary of my experience using various promotion channels. And I should confess that while I have a marketing background, I would much rather write than promote (because I think I’m better at writing than at selling and I enjoy writing more)
Press Release: My publisher writes a draft press release which I edit and it goes out to ‘thousands of libraries, book shops, media outlets’. Fortunately, it’s in an electronic form, so that no trees are actually killed (not even from recipients printing it out, which, as far as I know, has never happened).
Website: I have a website (www.williampeace.net), which I share with the publisher. At the moment, I’m waiting for the publisher’s IT guru to add Seeking Father Khaliq. Then, I’ll ask my IT handyman to add some real content. Essential? Yes. Has it sold any books? Doubtful.
Blog: Here we are! For me the main value of a blog is the work I have to do each week – other than writing – to prepare something which might be stimulating. And, I very much enjoy it when someone responds!
Twitter: Pass. Unless you’re a big name author and people want to know what you had for breakfast, I doubt that 140 characters per day sells many books.
Goodreads & Amazon Author Pages: Yes. They even run my blog down the side – as does my website.
Facebook Pages: Yes. I have a personal page, an author’s page and there’s a page for each of my books.
Advertising: Yes. Five of my books have regular advertisements on Goodreads. What I’ve got to do now is to revisit the advertising copy on some of the ads because the click-through-rate is too low. There have been quite a few books added to readers’ lists. Currently, I’m running a Facebook ad which covers the commuter homebase north of Manhattan. Lots and lots of ‘Likes’. Sales? Hard to say. The Facebook ads are expensive.
Giveaways: I ran a giveaway on Goodreads last year. Over one hundred people applied for ten books. After I sent the books out, I got one semi-literate review, instead of the ten I should have received. Don’t they do book reports in school any more?
Brick & Mortar Bookshops: Bookshops will carry books only if they are bought on a sale or return basis. That way, they get left with zero unsold stock. My publisher offers a ‘deal’ where the author underwrites the cost of returns from bookshops. When I pointed out that since they had something to gain from sales to bookshops, they ought to participate in the underwriting. Their response was to put a cap on my potential exposure. I signed up to that for a while, but there was no evidence that any bookshops bought copies. I’ve offered to carry the stock for several independent bookshops in London, but there was no interest in even a sample book. I approached Barnes & Noble about carrying one or two of my books in selected stores. No interest. With (very) rare exceptions brick and mortar bookshops buy from traditional publishers. Period.
Book Signings: A few years ago, my publisher would arrange book signings. In fact I was offered a signing at a rural bookshop in Maine, but I had to buy and carry 50 books with me. This service has since been discontinued. In fact, I have the impression that book signings work only for non-fiction accounts of a juicy scandal written by one of the perpetrators.
Awards: This is a semi-major project area for me. I’ve stopped submitting to the outfits that run multiple contests with unidentified judges. That still leaves about one contest per month, and I’m getting recognition about half the time. (No serious money yet.)
Reviews: You may know that Amazon has cracked down on pay-for-review outfits: they won’t let them post reviews. This makes some sense in that the money might be trying to buy a good review. The problem is that there isn’t enough review capacity in the industry. Willing and educated reviewers tend to flock to the best sellers. Bloggers who offer reviews typically have a very long waiting list. Reciprocal reviewing services are an option, but, to be fair, one has to reading some marginally interesting stuff to win a hasty review. Recently, I tried a different approach to the literary editors of large newspapers. I had previously sent a few of them samples of my latest book. No response. I identified about fifteen literary editors of major newspapers in the UK, US and Canada, and I sent them carefully crafted messages about Seeking Father Khaliq, inviting them to review it. There were two polite ‘no thank you’s.
So let me end with a fantastic offer! If any of my readers would like to receive a free copy of Seeking Father Khaliq with an obligation to publish a brief, learned review, please email me at bill(at)williampeace(dot)net!