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 (, 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!

New Novel

My latest novel, Seeking Father Khaliq, has just been published.


Seeking Father Khaliq is a modern allegory about one man’s search for spiritual fulfillment. Set in the Middle East, philosophy professor Kareem al-Busiri teaches at a prestigious Egyptian university.
The professor is persuaded by a Princess Basheera to find Father Khaliq for her.  From time-to-time, the professor wonders whether the princess is real or did he imagine her?  In the search, he undertakes important pilgrimages: the Hajj, Arba’een (the huge Shia pilgrimage to Karbala in Iraq), to Medina (the Prophet’s tomb), to Jerusalem and Rome. He falls in love with a colleague who was his late wife’s best friend, and who like his late wife and daughter is a Coptic Christian.  He attempts to manage mortal conflicts of values and ideology between his two sons.  One son is an Egyptian army officer; the other is a lawyer who is secretly providing money and arms to the terrorist insurgency in the Sinai.  Classical Arabic philosophy is woven into the narrative to support certain viewpoints.

The back cover continues:
Carefully researched and constructed, this dynamic story reflects the current religious, political, and social turmoil of the region.
Seeking Father Khaliq is unique in its Middle East setting, and its focus on Islam, as well as elements of Christianity and Judaism. The use of the jihadist conflict in Egypt as a surrogate for larger regional conflicts, the religious pilgrimages, and the resolution of inter-faith marriage issues are also highlighted.

There are two reviews, so far:

E. Lund for Phi Beta Kappa Reviews said, in part:

” . . . Author William Peace has woven a compelling narrative that explores the issues of religion, politics and social change, all while avoiding the pitfalls of becoming a treatise. Instead, “Seeking Father Khaliq” is a moving study of a family caught up in the volatile turmoil of the times, and a father who finds that moving closer to God is a way to navigate forward.  Beautifully written with vivid depictions of religious pilgrimages, the book also delivers three dimensional characters fully realized and equally empathetic. Highly recommended for those who want to know more about this important part of the world, but as much to be enjoyed simply on its narrative merits. “

Deborah Lloyd for Reader’s Favorite said, in part:

“. . . The author’s writing style is clear and concise. The account is thought-provoking and fascinating; the reader will be forever changed. This is a much-needed book during these difficult, challenging times in our modern world.”

I will just add that this book was a great pleasure to write.  I spent at least as much time on the internet researching as I did in the actual writing.  It took two years to write – about half my normal pace.  I also feel that my original idea for the book blossomed very nicely: one man’s search for God, Middle East setting, key character a philosophy professor, told in the first person, two sons on opposite sides of the regional divide.

I hope you enjoy it!

Composition: Music and Prose

Last night, I heard, for the first time, evidence of the shared skills of composers and authors.  My wife and I went to a Royal Philharmonic Orchestra concert which featured Wagner’s Tannháuser Overture, Chopin’s Piano Concerto No. 2, and Beethoven’s Symphony No. 4.  Pierre Vallet was the conductor and Elizabeth Sombart was the pianist.  For me the music got better as the evening progressed.  I should explain that I am no music critic; I never played an instrument, and I can’t really read music, although I sang first tenor and then baritone in two different small singing groups in high school and college.

The Wagner piece was enjoyable, but it didn’t really engage me.  I kept thinking of Nietzsche’s criticism of Wagner: that he became an insufferable egotist.  Elizabeth Sombart’s recital of Chopin was very impressive.   I sat there and thought: ‘How wonderful it must be to be able to play like that!’  And Chopin’s music was lovely.  But it was Beethoven’s Fourth that really caught my attention.  I’ve heard it played at least a dozen times before, but, until last night, never by a live orchestra.


Composer of the Fourth Symphony

The music was captivating, and I watched the musicians play with what seemed like gusto.  I began to think about the composition of the music to which I was listening  This was a very clever composer: he keeps his audience fully engaged.  And I began to identify aspects of the music that I felt bore similarities to the composition of good prose.

  • The piece has a unity to it.  It was clearly the work of one composer: it was telling one musical story in four movements.  Each movement shared musical themes and techniques with the others, but one felt a progression in the movements.  At times, I have felt that a particular piece of classical music could have been serially composed by two or more people.
  • There was plenty of emotion.  Sometimes a flute and first violins would pick out a sweet and gentle theme.  At other times the timpani, brass and eight basses would thunder out in rage.  There was love, there was anger, there was joy and wonder.
  • There was plenty of suspense.  The first movement begins with a dark, gloomy section: What is this about?  But gradually it gives way to a bright, cheerful theme: Will this continue?  Whenever a new theme was introduced, it would begin to tease, and one would wonder what is coming?  The techniques for generating suspense varied: Pianissimo building to Forte, or the other way ’round, or themes evolving in variations; or sudden shifts in the instruments; or instruments playing ascending scales.
  • There was a lot of conversation.  For, example the violins would start a theme which would be picked up and changed by the cellos; the violins would respond with the changed theme and change it further.
  • There were changes in pace.  Sometimes the music was slowly deliberate: in no hurry; at other times, it was in a sensational rush, particularly in the fourth movement.

With this insight, perhaps I will enjoy classical music more than I have in the past.  And I have always enjoyed going to concerts.

A Writer Unmasked

You may have read that the New York Review of Books’ investigative reporter Claudio Gatti has unmasked best-selling novelist Elena Ferrante.


 Perhaps it is best to quote from an article in The New Yorker by Alexandra Schwartz:
“The news that the true identity of the writer Elena Ferrante has, allegedly, been uncovered was published on the blog of The New York Review of Booksat 1 a.m. on Sunday—the Internet’s witching hour, when salacious tidbits are unloaded online to greet the unsuspecting citizens of Twitter bright and early in the morning. It was met with widespread consternation from Ferrante fans. People are pissed. The sleuth, an Italian journalist named Claudio Gatti, has gone beyond the efforts of previous Ferrante truthers, who have generally tried either to compare the biographies of various Italian writers with what is known or inferred about Ferrante’s life or to match their literary style with hers, and used forensic accounting to uncover a money trail that, he believes, leads straight to the source. The process has taken him months. If only someone had got him interested in Trump’s tax returns during the primaries, just think where we might be today.

“I hate to do it, but in the interest of clarity, here, briefly, is what Gatti claims. Ferrante, he says, is Anita Raja, a translator who lives in Rome with her husband, the Neapolitan writer Domenico Starnone. For many years, Raja has translated books from the German for Edizione E/O, the publishing house that puts out Ferrante’s work. Gatti says that payments from the publisher to Raja “have increased dramatically in recent years,” in line with the increase in revenues that Edizioni E/O has enjoyed as Ferrante has become an international literary star, and thus “appear to make her the overwhelming beneficiary of Ferrante’s success.” (He obtained information about Edizioni E/O’s revenue and Raja’s income from an anonymous source.)

“To this evidence Gatti adds the further proof of Raja and Starnone’s real-estate dealings. In 2000, the year that Ferrante’s first novel was made into a movie in Italy, Raja bought a seven-room apartment in what Gatti assures us is an expensive neighborhood in Rome. In 2001, she bought a country house in Tuscany. This past June, Gatti reports, Starnone bought an eleven-room apartment “on the top floor of an elegant pre-war building in one of the most beautiful streets in Rome,” not far from Raja’s apartment. Gatti, after making a brief foray into Italian tax law to explain his suspicion that it is Raja who has purchased the new apartment in Starnone’s name, reminds us that most translators do not earn enough from the sweat of their labor to be able to afford such nice things. Raja has risen suspiciously above her station.

“The part of Gatti’s claim that has unavoidable meaning for readers is that Anita Raja’s biography does not at all correspond to that of Elena Ferrante as gleaned from her novels, or as described in “Frantumaglia,” a work of autobiographical fragments that first appeared in Italy more than a decade ago and which will be published in the United States on November 1st. In that book, Ferrante writes that she grew up in Naples, the daughter of a local seamstress. Raja’s mother, Golda Frieda Petzenbaum, worked as a teacher, and was born in Worms, Germany, into a Polish Jewish family that fled to Italy in 1937. She married a Neapolitan magistrate, but the family moved to Rome, in 1956, when Raja was three. If Raja is Elena Ferrante, that would mean, among many other things, that she has no firsthand knowledge of the postwar Naples milieu that she evokes with such fiercely unsentimental strokes, the oppressive rione on the city’s outskirts that anchors the Neapolitan novels and gives them their extraordinary texture of lived truth.”

Ferrante, through her publisher had said: “I have my private life and as far as my public life goes I am fully represented by my books. . . Thanks to this decision, I have gained a space of my own, a space that is free. . . . To relinquish it would be very painful.”  For me, the appalling aspect of all this is the character of Gatti.  He seems to be motivated entirely by selfish interests: enhancing his career, making money, putting himself in the limelight while injuring the interests of another person.  His allegations that Raja (if indeed it is she) was engaging in a kind of publicity stunt, and that eventually she would be found out.  He seemed to imply that she was asking for it.

I sincerely hope that Gatti will continue to be showered with approbation and that other ‘investigative journalists’ will not try to follow in his footsteps.  Life is about making choices; it is not about frustrating other people’s choices.