Publicising Your Writing
How can I get my book better known to a wider audience? It’s a difficult question to ask for any author and I wish I had all the answers, I really do, but there is so much nuance to marketing that an exact how-to guide is impossible. I can certainly look at some possibilities, though, including the things that have worked for me.
Perhaps the most obvious answer is to be signed by one of the Big Five publishers or one of their imprints. They all have marketing budgets that can be spent as the executives see fit; the bigger you are in terms of previous—or potential—sales, the greater the investment in your title. Arranging for interviews with magazines/podcasts/bloggers, organising clips to be recorded for some viral online marketing, and paying for advertising in newspapers and trade magazines, all help top-tier writers maintain their status.
But what you’re not part of the top tier? What if you’re one of the multitudinous other, signed or unsigned, determined to get yourselves known? These are all things I’ve worked on, and they have had mixed success—either because I have failed somehow at it and learnt something from it, or because it wasn’t right for my work at that particular time. But some things do work, and it’s down to you to consider what works for you.
I’ve done a few, and each one is scary. Will anyone turn up? Will I be shunned for the next two hours, feeling—and looking—a little foolish? Thankfully these anxieties are not truths; I’ve always advertised the events through local press, social media, posters, word-of-mouth, and so on, and each time, enough people have come by over the course of the two hours to make it worthwhile.
Consider giving some talks on your niche or subject. Do you write for children? Why not go into a school and deliver a deliver or a lesson plan in conjunction with something the kids are doing that term? Or do you write cookbooks? Why not talk to a local community group that undertakes culinary projects? There will always be a local organisation or group interested in guest speakers; ask around and see what’s out there.
These are absolutely key. Encouraging people to write Amazon reviews is important, but so is having reviewers—readers with popular blogs or columns in magazines, for example—who will read your work and give an honest critique to their own readers. Search for them, find them, contact them, and be polite. Who knows who will be inspired to read your book as a result?
I write genre fiction—science-fiction and fantasy—so there are plenty of options for me. Although tables can be expensive, just going as a day visitor and networking can be very beneficial. I’ve attended with my publisher before, and book sales have definitely been good enough to justify the expense and then some.
You’re reading this article online, so I recognise the irony of this comment, but it’s vital to have an online presence that you use regularly. People look for authors online, and social media algorithms give suggestions to readers; we should be coming up in search results to give us a tiny fighting chance of being noticed. Have a website. Then set up a few social media channels, but pick one and get good at it.
These are just as important; online, written interviews—on bloggers’ sites focused on books and words—are increasingly popular for some people, so why not try it? Or find some podcasts you can relate your work to, and see if they’ll interview you. Or submit something to magazines in your chosen field, or go to your local radio. Use subjects which relate to your work and find some angles to go back to time after time to develop a specialism.
This is paramount. You never know where a useful contact might lead. This has happened to me on more than one occasion; I’ve met someone who’s introduced me to someone else, or recommended a competition or helped me edit a story or…well, you get the picture. There are a lot of possibilities out there if you know where to look and who to talk to, but you have to be out there in order to know where they are.
If this all seems like a lot of work, then you’re right—it is. But it doesn’t have to be a chore; any author should be engaged in their own publicity. You shouldn’t expect it all to happen by someone else. You are a product as much as your work, and for your book to sell, people often want to have heard from the author, so efforts from you will engage the reader. I enjoy some of the publicity work I do—although I’d always rather be writing—but I also would like my work to be read by an audience, so I want to see my profile being noticed. Consider these as possibilities, and if you think of other good publicity methods, share them!
© 2018 Matthew Munson
Available under the Thanet Writers Education Policy
Thanet-based author Matthew has three novels published by Inspired Quill, is an inveterate blogger, and writing is his passion.