Now all versions of Against the Elements are out (paperback in UK and US, Kindle, and NOOK), I am starting to have to think long and hard about marketing, and how to properly go about spreading the word about the novel.
A lot of authors think that as soon as their book hits the shelves, that’s it: all their hard work is done. While that is not only untrue, it is certainly untrue for your debut novel. Only a very small perecentage of writers get given marketing by their publishing company, especially when they are just starting out. Which means more often than not, you still have a lot of work left to do.
You don’t have to necessarily think big. Let’s run through some examples.
- The Blog – blogs are probably one of the most easily mantained methods of advertising you have available. They may seem like a time-eater, but that’s only if you don’t have a proper plan for the thing (says me). Try to keep a schedule of posts. Post once a week on a certain day, or twice a week. Make sure you always have something to say. And, above all, join other blogs. Other writers are out there, trying to do the same as you. By following them and helping them out, they might be able to do you an interview or book review for their blog, and you might be able to do one for them on yours.
- The Social Network – Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, MySpace, Tumblr – whichever, whenever, these bad boys are going to be vital. Not only are they a great way of reaching hundreds, if not thousands of people, but they are brief. You never have to worry about having anything meaningful or worthwhile to say. These places are perfect for those little updates about signings or appearances.
- The Local Paper – if you can be forthright enough to make yourself a small press release, then there is absolutely no reason why you can’t approach your local paper and ask if they want to do a short feature on you. They might even review the book if you ask, and a face in the paper will always get you more leverage when you’re trying to get into local bookshops.
- The Local Radio – same thing applies. A twenty minute interview on the radio could lead to big things. Plus, you can ask them for a copy, and put it on your blog.
- The Schools and Libraries – this mostly applies to YA literature, but it could also apply to other genres. Local schools are a great place to put up posters or hand out flyers about your book, especially if you’re alumni. If you’re brave enough to enter the fray, schools could generate quite a lot of interest. Libraries are also one of those places where a couple of posters could work wonders. If you’re lucky they might get you in for a signing or a reading.
- The Local Bookshops – small, big, coperate, independent. Just try. Even if all they can do for you is order 5 copies and put a poster up, it’s better than nothing. And who knows? They might want you in for a reading or signing.
- The Local News – if you do have that press release, send it off to your local news company. They might be interested, and you’d reach your biggest audience by far.
Now, you may have noticed that my main word is local. This is an important thing to remember. Start small. Nobody took over the world by starting a thousand miles away. Be ambitious, but not over ambitious, and use your contacts. It is not cheating to ask your friend in radio to get you an interview, nor is it cheating to go to your old school and ask them to put a few posters up for an ex-student.
I, personally, have two parents in journalism (one who works for the local TV news); a friend who works for a bookshop chain; I work in a pub with a large function room; and I have a big background in academic creative writing. With these four assets alone I could nab myself a few interviews, a room to do a reading and a signing in, a chat with one of the biggest bookshops in the country, and have some of the top creative writers in the UK to promote my book. Not too bad. I have a talk lined up with the Northern Society of Young Publishers and Authors (they want me to read and discuss getting published) and I’m looking at going to my local writing fair and market and asking for a stall.
I think my main point is that you need to do anything and everything that is within your power. Yes, we all have day jobs and bills to pay – but if you have the time, do that little interview. It may not seem like much, but it might be a step on your path to getting noticed.