Thursday, 25 August 2011

Promoting your book, promoting yourself

by Jane Wenham-Jones

When it comes to promoting books, nobody could accuse me of not doing my bit on the publicity front. I’ve been shouted at on Kilroy, chopped broccoli on Ready, Steady, Cook; had my hair dyed on The Salon and smashed a large piece of crystal on the set of The Heaven and Earth Show (this was not in the running order). Once I even stood on a box on Speakers’ Corner which, I can tell you, is not for the faint-hearted. My motto has always been, in this harsh world of commercial enterprise that bookselling has become : Say Yes to Everything. Even if that sometimes means travelling all day to appear for three minutes on a little-known satellite channel with six viewers only to find that just as one opens one’s mouth to mention one’s latest book, it is the advert break and the twelve-year old director is thanking one very much and ushering the next sucker in.

My inability to say No goes some way to explaining why I’ve written five books in the time most of my writing friends have produced a dozen. But now, at least, all that time spent listening to the sound of my own voice rather than getting it down on paper has been put to good use. And if you’re reading this, you’ve heard of me now….. J

From Wannabe a Writer We’ve Heard Of?
by Jane Wenham-Jones

I am frequently amazed by the published authors I meet who shake their heads sadly at the mention of sales figures, yet have never appeared on the radio, or been interviewed in a magazine or given a talk.

Why not? I ask myself. Or occasionally, them.

“Nobody’s asked me,” they reply. Or “I’m not very good at that sort of thing.” Or, once: “I don’t have your chutzpah.” But believe me, I didn’t always have it either.

Front can be learned and cultivated like anything else. If it helps, remember it’s a two-way process. Magazines have pages to fill, radio stations many hours of airtime. Editors and producers need interesting people who will write and say fascinating things just as much as we need those vehicles to plug us.

Nobody’s going to buy a book that they don’t know exists. And nobody is going to call you up and offer you a platform to talk about it from, if they don’t know you do!

Getting out there, getting known

In order for a stranger to know who you are, they’ve got to have done one of these things:

Heard someone else mention you, listened to you on the radio, read about you in a newspaper or magazine, seen a picture of you, watched you on TV, come across you on the internet, seen one of your books in a bookshop or bought one of your books and actually read it.

You might think, being a writer, that the last two options were the most obvious routes to fame and fortune but unfortunately, as already mentioned, being piled high in the bookstores is no longer a given.

With more and more publishers scrabbling for shelf space for their titles, having your book selected for sale in the supermarkets or on stations and at airports is a cause for celebration rather than to be expected and even if you are stocked in quantity and displayed prominently, the competition for sales is still tough.

So there are two routes you can take. You can sit back and hope that at least a few people will get hold of a copy of your work and will be so bowled over that they tell all their friends who in turn tell theirs, that the news will spread like a rash, that internet orders will rocket, shops will be forced to order it in or increase their stock, and you will hit the best-seller lists by that holiest of grails – word of mouth. (If this happens to you, then hurrah and gosh and I can’t tell you how jealous I am.)

Or you can hedge your bets and give the whole process a bit of a nudge….

Extracted from Wannabe a Writer We’ve Heard Of?
by Jane Wenham-Jones
Published by Accent Press Ltd in paper back @ £9.99
@copyright Jane Wenham-Jones

Jane’s top tips for self-promotion

Be brave Don’t wait for opportunities to come to you – get out and ask for them. The worst anyone can say is NO. It’s not very nice if they do, but you won’t die from it.

Be imaginative Doing a signing? Don’t limit yourself to bookshops. I once signed novels on a cross-channel ferry; crime writer Peter James signed his from a coffin…

Be nice One bookseller admitted he put all the author’s books back in the stockroom after she was difficult. Be charming at all times and say a huge thank you to anyone who helps you.

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