Sound advice indeed, Carol Hedges, especially #1!
 Carol's Birthday 2014 003 (768x1024)
So you’ve published a book – congratulations! And now you’re sitting back and waiting for the money to roll in. Sorry – that’s not how it works! Writing a book and getting it published, by whatever conduit you use, is only the start. To get any sales, you have to make people aware of your masterpiece. In this guest post (thank you Jane B.), I’m exploring some of the ways I use to promote my work, because unless you are out there, loud and proud, nobody will notice you.
1. Social Media: Most of my sales come from Twitter. And practically all come from people recommending the books to other readers, and that comes from me chatting, interacting and posting funny stuff. In other words, I’m a friend first, an online character second, and a writer selling books third.
2. Press Releases: The local press are (usually) delighted to receive a press release, a publicity pic and a free copy to review.
3. Press Releases: Anywhere your book is set will be delighted also.
4. Local Radio: Contact them via Twitter, phone them up, arrange to do a studio interview. Listen, I sound like a 15 year old mainlining helium, but I still do it.
5.National Press: Will be interested if you have a brilliant backstory, particularly if it involves abuse, or hardship. Also if you earned shedloads of advance shekels or you are very very photogenic. I haven’t cracked this one yet. Maybe you will.
6. Literary Festivals: Everybody’s doing it. Local library will have contacts of yours. Get in touch. I did the first St Albans Literary Festival last November. I ran a workshop on how to get published … ooh, and I had some books on a side-table.
7. Signings: Local bookshop is worth approaching. If it’s Waterstones, good luck.
8.Talks: Women’s Institute – you have to audition and be approved, but it’s worth it. Local book clubs/writers’ groups are also worth contacting. If you write YA or childrens’ fiction, schools are always keen to have a visiting writer. Make sure you get paid – the Society of Authors has recommended fees.
As you now see, there is a lot more to being a writer than merely writing. Writing is the ”easy” bit! And lest you should eye your mainstream published brethren and mutter ‘bet they don’t have to do all this‘ – YES THEY DO! Big publishers are very selective about who they spend their publicity budgets promoting. If it ain’t you, you will still have to do the legwork. I’ve spoken to some ”famous” names, and it is so.
Finally – make sure you are registered for PLR – Public Lending Rights: that’s the money paid by libraries every time your book is borrowed. You can register at www.plr.uk.com. Every little helps.
twitter: @carolJhedges
Amazon author page: http://amzn.to/1N1P3DF 
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  1. Carol Hedges says:

    Thanks for letting me loose, Jane. What a lovely blog you have..mine is full of cake crumbs.

    • jbwye says:

      It is great having you, Carol – I’ve never had so many twitterers viewing my blog before! About the cake…. I just love cake

  2. Carol, great post with some valuable advice. I find Twitter a wonderful resource for sharing information and interacting with others, but not for reaching my target audience, which is Young Adult. Most of my followers are adults and a significant proportion of those are other authors. Teens are less likely to connect with a 40 + unknown author, unless of course they’re already highly successful. And it might come across bit weird if I was following them. So far, it’s been a uphill struggle finding new readers. I also have a Facebook page, but have found unless you’re willing to pay to promote content most of your posts don’t get seen. It’s a tough one! Any tips?

    Also, can I ask if the other promotional methods you mentioned still apply if you’re self published? e.g. local press release, book festivals, school visits as I was under the assumption (perhaps wrongly) that they would only be interested if you were a traditionally published author.

    • jbwye says:

      I’ll alert Carol to your questions, Wendy Jane. In the meantime, promotional methods apply to ALL authors! Self-published ones are becoming more and more recognised these days, and established authors are turning to it too.

  3. Carol Hedges says:

    I think for YA you have to ask a friendly teenager what sites they use and where they hang out and be prepared to go on them. I have one YA self-pub book..I do find that it is downloaded by adults a lot ..they are also a target market for YA. Try # with the subject matter …I don’t use Facebook to ”sell” my books ..I post the odd review..I do use the various groups…is there a FB teen group? I’m 64 and waaay past that stage..I think you really need to do some chatting to the ”horses mouths’ as it were. I know a lot of sales come from personal recommendation…or are linked to the National Curriculum. My YA book has a World War 1 poetry subplot..so I use that to attract people.

    Ooh and Local authors are always welcome at local Festivals and to schools – which would be a good place to sell your books etc…if you get yourself into the local paper, then you can wave it at them…. Nobody finds selling easy..and sadly, teens have a million and one other things to attract them. Doesn’t mean that you can’t get bought, read and enjoyed though!

  4. Carol and Jane – Thanks for your feedback & positive comments. I actually have two younger teen boys at home, although their go to places are usually You tube or gaming sites 😦 There are other sites like Snapchat & Instagram, but they’re not for me I’m afraid. I do agree that there are a lot more adults reading YA, so hopefully over time I’ll gain more readers who will enjoy my type of books. Word of mouth and personal recommendation do a lot to help raise an author’s profile, so I guess it’s all about making new connections, blogging and putting myself out there more. And a huge dose of luck wouldn’t hurt either!

    Good to know that I can approach local press and schools etc without fear of being shunned 🙂 I’ll need to be more brave about taking that first step out of my writer’s comfort zone. But I also think once I have a few more books under my belt, I might be taken more seriously. Rome wasn’t built in a day, so for now I’ll keep shovelling sand in the hope that it grows into something grand and glorious one of these days!

  5. jbwye says:

    One thing, though. You’ll need to develope a thick skin, as there will be lots of brush-offs. We need to persevere, is all!

  6. Sadly, we are expected to be out there…gone are the days when writers could hide in their attic! But with the knock backs also come lovely comments from readers who’ve enjoyed what you write.

  7. Terry Tyler says:

    This is a great article, but book signings, literary festivals, etc, pretty much out of the question for the thousands and thousands of ebook only authors; we rely on what we can do online. Yes, yes, a good reason to do paperback. Also, it’s hard if you’re not the sort of person who is comfortable talking in front of a group of people – it’s one of my worst nightmares. I know, I know, it’s pathetic! This is all SMASHING advice (and I LOVE the picture of you!) for the moderately confident paperback author, though.

    I contacted my local press a while back to ask about doing a feature, and they said yes, if they could come and photograph me with a pile of my books, and perhaps do a little giveaway. When I said they were ebook only, they were no longer interested. However, I am not a very good salesperson; I am sure if it had been you, you could have persuaded them!

    Wendy – have you networked much with other YA authors? There are STACKS of them on twitter, and TONS of book bloggers who adore YA. For a start, I’d recommend Tome Tender, @DiiBylo on Twitter, she’s a delightful lady. Also Lavender Library @ScintillatingSZ.

    • jbwye says:

      Terry – sorry I’ve been so tardy about approving your most interesting comment. For the past year I have been going to my local branch of Toastmasters International and thoroughly enjoy the fortnightly meetings where public speaking skills are honed in a “safe” environment. Talks really do help sell books (REAL hardcopy books!)

    • Thanks Terry, I’ll check out both of these lovely YA book bloggers you mentioned 🙂 I have connected with plenty of YA authors on Twitter & Goodreads, but not many bloggers as yet. This is partly my own fault as have been so preoccupied working on my next book that I’ve let a lot of promotional stuff slip. The result of which has been a drop in sales and no more reviews for the first book. Not that I’m very hot on at that side of things yet. Also, there are certain things I see other indie authors doing to solicit reviews that i’m just not prepared to do.

      I feel much the same as you about public speaking; the thought fills me with dread, although I know there’s a lot of pressure on authors these days to do just that. I could stand up and talk to a room of medical professionals in my previous job because I was confident in my subject matter, but it’s still early days in my writing career, so it will be a while (if ever) before I’m ready to take that leap. Should mention I’m usually the one at social events lingering by the door!

      My first novel is now both in ebook and paperback format, so that may well help if I decide to approach local press or schools. Currently in the middle of a rebrand of my covers. I had to make the tough decision to change the cover for book one (too convoluted to go into here), which has been a costly endeavour, but hope is the right one longer term. The book market is a pretty fickle place. As an indie author you don’t have the inside knowledge of a publishing house to know about current trends or which covers sell books most effectively. It’s a case of doing some market research, and choosing a design that feel right for your books. Anyway, time will tell.

      Thanks Carol, Jane and Terry for all the sound advice.

  8. Reading this from across the pond, Carol, and taking notes. Here in the US we have regional alliance of indie bookstores, who ought to be a good market for indie books; that’s another good source for promoting one’s books. I’m devouring all of these ideas in advance of publishing my first. Even though your tips are UK-oriented, they apply here as well. Thanks!

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