Thursday 2 June 2011

Publicising our novels

As many of us who have had books published quickly come to realise, publication is only the start. Now, the book has to sell.

Writers are, on the whole, modest people (at least, those I've come across have tended to be). We work alone, and emerge from our dark little corners on publication day, blinking like Mole in the Wind in the Willows, and realise suddenly that if we are to get our baby out there, and if it is to succeed, we have to do a whole lot more to help it on its way.

I am terribly bad at this; so bad, in fact, that I have been known to give a talk* but find myself unable to bring myself to sell copies of my book afterwards, although I've brought them with me. Sad, isn't it? I don't like being the centre of attention, and find it incredibly hard to say "I've written this brilliant book. BUY IT!"

So - what do other people do? Does anyone have any ideas about further publicity? I read in the Times today that there are authors paying agencies thousands of pounds to give bogus publicity; paying Twitter and Facebook users 24p a throw to pubicise their books; paying people to recommend their books on Amazon. For me, these are not avenues I wish to explore. But if anyone has any ethical ideas, please let me know, because I'm rapidly running out of ideas of my own!

*I do enjoy giving talks because I like meeting people. It's the selling bit that's my stumbling block.


  1. Why not print yourself some bookmaker with details about your book and blog on them and go into your local library and hide them in the books so when reader comes along to take the book out they will find out about your book.

    Or go into your local charity book shop and do the same.

    Just an idea.

  2. Hi Frances,

    How about approaching small shops and leaving say five books on sale or return for on the counter? Or if there's a summer fete at your local school, have a table where they take a small fee,and sell your books there along with other things like home made cakes, you could sign them (books not cakes) it's not so 'in your face' as being in a store.
    (funny how I can reply to comments on your blog but not on my own.)

  3. Thanks, Jarmara and Suzy. Some good ideas. I thought of doing a kind of publicity ride from, say, Devizes to Bristol, but I don't think the horse would wear that one (and who would put us up on the way?)! I suggested to my agent that I should streak across Piccadilly in the rush hour, and she thought that was a terrible idea (not a pretty sight, either!).

    (Suzy, I think the whole blogosphere has been in turmoil recently. Needs an MOT.)

  4. I know what you mean, Frances - I've suddenly been reverting back to my 'don't want to push myself forward' mode today, just because I was interviewed on another blog and thought people would be fed up hearing about me. Yet I have to do some promotion for an e-book.

    I think being on other writers' blogs is a very good way to get in touch with new readers (I'm going to start doing more interviews on mine soon). I also got postcards from Vistaprint with my cover and details on them and they've been great for handing out.

    Because it was my first novel, I've also been in a few newspapers and a couple of other places. Going in Writers' News too.

  5. Hi Frances .. I don't know how many blogs you link to .. but in the past year there've been quite a few people who've been promoting their books .. I can give you the links .. and then that will lead you to other links ..

    I see you haven't many followers as such .. so perhaps you don't know the bloggers .. who tell you how they've done it .. and give you ideas ..

    then you could follow them and subscribe and find others .. I'm sure you do FB and Twitter that I don't do ..

    I think the promoting aspect is very difficult and I don't like putting myself forward either - not to say I have written a book ..

    But .. I'll email you .. if you like ...

    my email is my full name (without the hyphen) at g mail dot com ..

    Cheers Hilary

  6. Rosemary - yeas, Visat print are great, aren't they. I keep forgetting to leave them around, but I've got some cards printed. I think mmy main problek is that I'm not proactive enough (ie lazy)!

    Hi, Hilary, and thanks. Actually, I seem to have an awful lot of hits although I don't have that many signed-up followers. My book is still selling; I just want to give the sales a boost. The market is very tough at the moment, and I guess I haven't been putting in enough effort...Time to pull my socks up!

  7. Whatever you decide to do I wish you luck. I personally hate pushing myself to the front so you have my sympathies. Good luck.

  8. Hi Frances .. I was going to send you some other links - but from your reply you seem to be ok ..

    However I've just got this one in my Reader .. and it might interest you ..

    Cheers Hilary

  9. The very thought of giving a talk or doing book signings would fill me with terror - if I was ever lucky enough to have a novel published that is.

    If you enjoy doing the talks but not the selling, perhaps you could take someone with you to do the hard sell afterwards?

    Good luck. :0)

  10. Thanks very much, Hilary. I'll check out that link.

    Gail, book signings are the absolute worst. You sit there trying to look carefree and confident, and inside you're just dying! Meanwhile, the public make a kind of arc around you, as though you are begging (which, of course, you are).