Monday, November 23, 2020

Guilty pleas

 A lot of authors are facing an even steeper uphill battle with book promotion these days. 

The field was noisy last year, this year it's deafening.

Trying to separate yourself from the pack is HARD.

But there are some things to avoid doing, and the very first one is leading with pathos: Hey, I need my book to sell well so buy a copy, please.

Well, I need Idris Elba to show up with sushi so get on that will you?

In other words, what you need is irrelevant to me unless you are me (or my family, client or friend).

And since most of you will be promoting your book to people who are not in your inner circle, think first about why someone would buy your book if they don't know you.

It's a good story is probably a good start. Except don't tell me the story, tell me the hook.

Snippets from good reviews, also good.

And right now, "it takes you away from reality for an hour" is very good.

Linking to something people know about already: If you loved Season Four of The Crown, here's a novel about how MI-5 killed Princess Diana.  That would catch my eye instantly and I'd probably buy the book.

 Linking to the theme of the book: If you want all the fun of cooking, but no clean up, here's a culinary mystery with murder as a side dish.

Linking to the characters: Need a dashing gallant man in your life, here's Felix Buttonweezer charming Our Heroine in The Great British Baking Show Off Comes to Town.

(there's a food theme here, isn't there?)

Effective book promo is about the reader, not the writer unless you're Nick Petrie and "I have a new book" is all I need to know.

The thing about trying to guilt someone into buying your book is that it's VERY short term. You can pluck my pity strings once, but that's all you'll get.

Promotion should be seen as a long game. Building readers into fans one book at a time. 



KMK said...

As usual, extremely wise advice! I've been tempted, on occasion, to lead with the "lockdown debut after long struggle to publication" thing, but it's too easy to come off as whiny. So I just keep reminding myself to focus on the hook. All we really have right now is social media, and being an interesting and positive presence may not be magic...but it's a good place to start.

E.M. Goldsmith said...

Can I be Nick Petrie? That seems to be the way to go.

C. Dan Castro said...

Thanks Janet. Let's say I've written a middle grade novel that I believe will be enjoyed not only by kids 8-10 years old, but also their parents. I want to promote the book, and my contacts tend to be the adults, many of whom are parents. Do I try to convince them that the book is like a Milton Bradley game: fun for everyone from 8-80? Or do I focus on why their kids will want their parents to buy them this book?

Beth Carpenter said...

Great advice. I only have so much reading time, and generally speaking, I'm going to use it on books I think I'll enjoy, not the ones whose authors had the most effective sob story.

Android Astronomer said...

Sage advice, Janet. Thank you.

Mmmmm, sage.

Say, that gives me an idea!

“Looking for a spicy romance to warm your chili toes? My book chronicles the antics of Rosemary and Ginger as they vie for Herb’s affection. At first Herb is aloof. “Coriander? I barely know her.” But soon it’s clove at first sight. OregaNO? OregaYES! Which galangal will Herb choose to be his date? Which cardamomma will he caraway for a good thyme? Read my book “Spice Rack” to find out! And horseradish, somehow.”

No? Not in a million years?

But it’s food-based.

Kae Ridwyn said...

Thank you as always, Janet - such wise advice. And Android Astronomer thanks for the laugh (clove at first sight) this morning!

Steve Forti said...

E.M. - I like that plan. Sign me up, too!

Eagerly waiting for The Breaker in January. (Not commuting to work anymore means I'm not using my Audible credits (I've converted to a Kindle junkie now), but I already pre-ordered the audio version of The Breaker, since I think Stephen Mendel does an outstanding job with those.)

Also, I should hurry up with my current read, since Ready Player Two comes out tomorrow.

Back to focusing on how to get the book into print so I can take advantage of today's advice to get into people's hands...

Theresa said...

Yes, two words that hook me: "Nick Petrie"!

But for books that don't carry that name or one of these several authors I always read, the story hook really matters.

KariV said...

Helpful and timely. My debut came out this Feb. Needless to say, it hasn't been a great sale year. I've pretty much exhausted my circle of friends and relatives by this point, so now we are in the realm of recommending to strangers. This advice is a succinct but useful way to get 'er done. "Effective book promo is about the reader, not the writer ..." Thanks, Janet!

Craig F said...

Eek, a day late and a literary agent short, seems normal for this year.

I had a short story that almost got published. Rather then get screwed by the people that wanted it, I tossed it out to some friends and told them to pass it around.

They did and I had tossed out a few more bones to keep that interest up. I can probably sell 4k books out of the 7500 people that say they liked my free stuff. I am not convinced of the rest liking my stuff or free better.

Hope all of you in the U.S. have a nice, peaceful Thanksgiving, I will lift a glass to you.

Leslie said...

KariV, is there any way to hook up with a local bookstore, a local library, a relevant (even tangentially) local group or club, etc., and maybe do a reading and/or Q&A on Zoom?