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Even if you’re contracted to a big-name publisher, a writer’s life is no longer simply about plotting, characterization and dialogue. Typing “The End” is only the beginning. Nowadays, when it comes to writing books you have to “Tell them to go out and buy...” in the words of Tom Lehrer.
There are thousands of new titles put out by conventional publishers, small presses and indies every year. To make sure yours gets noticed, you have to connect with readers everywhere around the world. Here are three ways to get started–
WORD OF MOUTH: Book signings and personal appearances are always worthwhile, although traveling eats into writing time. Signed books sell well, but with the High Street in decline and libraries feeling the pinch you have to choose your pitch with care. Writers are often insular, so social networking online has become a great way to meet and interact with readers. I love Twitter, Facebook and blogging. The main problem is, one thing so easily leads to another. Chats lead to exchanging links, which soon turns into surfing and Wilfing (“What Was I Looking For?”). That’s why it’s a good idea to set limits, and have dedicated burst of Tweet-time (or a regular “Facebook five minutes”) and stick to it.
BLOG TOURS: Blog Tours are fun, and a great way to discover new sites and fellow readers (and writers). I used Romance Book Paradise to arrange The Weight Of The Crown Blog Tour for me. This meant I could hand everything over to the enterprising Nas Dean. I was then free to concentrate on writing my next book. Nas arranged loads of online play-dates, consisting of interviews and guest posts. Dropping in to answer comments at the various sites was a real pleasure. Nas collated all the questions, questioners and reviews. She also provided a detailed database of people who commented on my posts, so I could arrange the prize draws. And it’s not all one-way traffic: I discovered many great sites along the way, such as The Sisterhood of the Jaunty Quills (love that name!)
COMPETITIONS AND GIVEAWAYS
Everyone loves something for nothing, and these are a great way to get your work and your name out into the public domain. Try using the #free hashtag on Twitter. Goodreads Giveaways allow you to offer copies of your book. Readers apply, and Goodreads select winners and then contact you with details of where to send the books. I’ve used this to great effect. Keep your eyes open for small, easily mailed things to use as prizes: scented soap, key rings, notelets etc. If you’re offering prizes to an international market, check regulations and in particular, avoid food. I have sent out pots of home-produced honey, but only to winners in the UK (and in proper honey posting containers. Imagine a messy, sticky trail all across the Post Office!) Despite the rise and rise of the e-reader, bookmarks are still popular. Don’t forget to include your website details and email address on them, and your readers will have a permanent reminder of you.
Tell me your favourite ideas for marketing, for the chance to win a little goody bag!