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So, what’s the best way to get publicity?

Some writers swear by endless author visits and events as the best way of getting noticed. Bookshops, libraries, universities, literary lunches, book groups, festivals, schools…there are loads of places to spread your words. But this all takes up many hours of your time. Others believe that media is the answer. Certainly, newspapers, magazines, radio and TV do generate loads of attention in one swoop. But does it always make people buy your book?

Some even think that the ‘personality author’ is the wrong way to go, and they prefer to hide behind the books, letting the art do the talking. It’s a big debate. Shall I be elusive and enigmatic like JD Salinger or Harper Lee? Or chatty and accessible like Kate Mosse of Labyrinth fame or Jacqueline Wilson?  Beware those who claim they hate publicity; they might be working away for attention like crazy behind the scenes.

So, what’s the best way to get publicity?

It is lovely to have professional PR devoted to you. It’s great to receive regular phone-calls with messages saying: “The Sunday Times want to do a piece, can you meet them tomorrow?”

But it is very time consuming; talking to journalists, having whole day photo shoots, and then there’s the double-edged sword of being asked to write articles for publications. It is very expensive to have proper, intense PR, opposed to the scanty sort offered up by most publishing houses at the point of launch.

You can achieve a massive amount yourself. You can e-mail local press contacts in your area and run competitions to win signed copies of your books. You can ask your local library to host a reading and it’s the same with schools in your area. If you make your appearances really special, word will spread very quickly.

Blogging, facebook, twitter and DIY websites are all great news too. Create flyers about events you are offering, business cards and posters. What starts in your local town will soon travel out to the whole county and beyond. But what if you are too busy writing and can’t fit it in? A one hour event in another part of the country can eat up two working days.

Well, you might just think this way: let the publisher get the book noticed on its own merit, while I write another. And maybe that’s not always a bad option. After all, we are authors, not celebrities.

Janey Louise Jones
' Princess Poppy books are published by Random House. Her latest book Cloudberry Castle was published in September (Floris).

If you found this article useful, you might want to take a look at:

How to give an effective media interview

What (and why) authors need to know about marketing

Book advertising (trade, press, billboards)