I’d like to thank writer Emma Chapman for contributing this guest post about maintaining marketing momentum. Emma is the author of How to be a Good Wife (reviewed here). Originally from the UK, Emma spent some time living in Western Australia and currently lives in Jakarta, Indonesia. She learnt the ropes of publishing at Toby Eady Associates literary agency and it was to this agency she sent the finished manuscript for How to be a Good Wife. She is now working on her next novel. You can find out more about Emma and her books here. I interviewed Emma when How to be a Good Wife was released and that interview is here.
How do we keep people interested in our work, long after it has hit the shelves?
My first novel, How To Be A Good Wife, has now been out in the world for over a year. When the book first came out in hardback, my publishers in the UK and Australia both did a great job at creating a buzz around the novel. It was reviewed in The Guardian, the Financial Times, and The Daily Mail in the UK, and The Australian, The Sydney Morning Herald among others in Australia. They gathered quotes from eleven other authors, including Hilary Mantel, double Booker Prize winner and all round literary superstar.
This week, the novel publishes in paperback. Traditionally, this is the time for sales: the hardback is never a huge seller, brought out mainly for avid fans, of which a debut author doesn’t have that many. So, what now? After garnering such incredible support for the book’s initial launch, can the publisher be expected to pull off a repeat performance? And how easy is that anyway when a lot of doors have already been knocked on?
The truth is, when I found out my novel was going to be published, I thought that my role in the process was finished. I’d written the novel. It was up to my publisher to actually sell it: to use their sales and marketing teams to make sure that the book was in the shops and that people have heard about it. But publishers can only do so much. I can’t ask for more in terms of press coverage for the novel, and what I’ve come to realise is that I need to do everything I can to promote the book too. In order to give my book the best chance, I know I must commit to doing everything I can to position it where readers can see it.
In the months leading up to the launch, I’ve been trying to think of unique ways to ensure that my book is both physically in shops and that people are talking about it. Living in Indonesia, I am slightly limited by what I can do in person to help the book sell. I can’t do many events in the UK, and even snail-mailing books to bloggers and readers is expensive and slow. So I had to think of some ideas that I could achieve from here.
Let’s Get Interactive
The Internet seemed like the obvious answer. The eBook of How To Be A Good Wife has already sold very well – a bit of a mystery, but a happy one – and I really value the online community of readers and fellow writers I have found on Twitter. Wouldn’t it be wonderful, I thought, if I could find a way for new and existing readers to interact with the book online?
That’s when I came up with the idea for an interactive website for How To Be A Good Wife . It’s a very open-ended book, which asks you to decide who you believe out of the husband and the wife. In designing the website, I offered readers a chance to view all the evidence to help them decide. I also offered them information from my research into mental illness, and explored the other themes too. Finally, they can take the online poll and cast their vote for either Marta or Hector.
The website was great fun to create, and it’s a unique way for readers to engage with the book when they’ve finished it. They can leave comments and chat with other readers.
An epic adventure …
The other thing I’m focusing on is an epic Independent Bookshop Crawl in the UK this summer. I’ll be spending the month of July travelling from the bottom of Cornwall up to Aberfeldy in Scotland, visiting as many independent bookshops as I can in one month. The current figure is at about 150!
When How To Be A Good Wife was first published, my agent, editor and I visited 24 bookshops in London in one day. We tweeted and Facebooked about the event and got overwhelming support in those forums. This year’s challenge is bigger and more ambitious.
Almost 550 independent bookshops have closed down in the UK since 2005. They offer something different from online book retailers: personal service and a community full of book-lovers. I hope to encourage readers to buy from their local independent bookshops, to be conscious of the impact their book purchases have on the industry. I’ve managed to secure the loan of a rental car from Auto Europe UK car hire, and I’m so excited about the journey already.
Here are my key tips for marketing yourself and your book:
- Try and think of something unique and different which hasn’t been done before.
- Be true to yourself and your book: don’t copy things that have been done before if at all possible.
- Don’t just think about how marketing can benefit you and your book: can you do something that helps others to get them involved and more interested in helping you?
- Self-promotion is never easy, but you have to bite the bullet and put yourself out there. If people don’t know about your book, they can’t buy it!
- Social Media cuts out the middleman and allows your readers to communicate directly with you. This is a great opportunity for you to grow a community of interested, committed readers.
- Start a blog, but only if it’s something that you enjoy. Try to think about what you can offer readers of the blog, rather than just thinking about self-promotion
- Organise events in your local area with libraries and bookshops. Library events are sometimes paid and can really help to spread the word about you and your books.
- Write guest posts for other blogs (Yep, like this one here!). There’s a huge community of book bloggers around the world and these are people who might want to review your current book and future projects, helping to promote it to an audience who are always looking for their next read.