We often ask successful authors what else they do besides write. Writing the book is just the beginning. Well it is, if you want to get your work out there, across to the public at large, and selling in large amounts.
What’s striking is not only the many and varied things that are done in the name of promotion, but also those that aren’t generally done, but could be, if you put your mind to it.
Here are some of the things that authors have told us they’re busy doing:
“I have a daily blog which is hugely time-consuming, but worthwhile, and gives me a wonderful opportunity to connect with my readers. I do signings, a couple of big book tours a year, radio, television, public speaking…” – NY Times bestselling author Jane Green
“I do quite a lot of school visits, so much so that they rather eat into my writing time. I occasionally do author signings – at one of them, memorably, I sold one book in two hours.” – Mary Hooper, author of over 70 books
So blogging, book tours, public speaking, author signings, they’re all part of the routine. Sometimes they’re wonderful, and sometimes they’re just hard work with, dare I say it, no guaranteed return.
But get this, there are alternatives. I was reading about one author who went for a DIY route when promoting his new book. Stephen Elliott, according to his essay in the NY Times, ditched the standard tour and went it alone. He asked people, just regular people, if they’d like to host an event – with him as guest of honour – in their own homes. He met students, artists and sex workers, ate cupcakes, sold books, didn’t sell books, slept on sofas, and – incredibly, brilliantly – managed to wrap up a 33-city book tour under his own steam. It’s enough to make a good story in its own right.
Now that’s not for everyone. I’m not even sure it was entirely for Elliott (who said it was “a little stressful”), but it’s a great illustration of thinking beyond the obvious.
Another new way of promoting a title which shares something of the same DIY ethos comes from an editor at Penguin. Editor Tom Roberge had such a witty email exchange with his author, drawing out the novel’s similarities with Woody Allen films, that he’s gone public, publishing their dialogue online. What do you think? It’s like an author website, but with a twist, a new angle. And this sort of thing is open to anyone because it’s so easy to set up a site using blogging platforms such as WordPress or Blogger.
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