Writing a book is one thing. Getting it noticed is quite another, and that is what makes up a good percentage of a writer’s work between novels.
There are a lot of ways to attract attention, some good and some not so good. An example of the latter is flooding the Twitter feed with messages, all saying “Buy my book!” Surprisingly this strategy has the reverse effect and is a sure way to get yourself ‘un-followed’ on a large scale. A few messages passing on news of the book, signings and so on, preferably mixed in with a lot of other stuff, is much more effective and can actually lead to some nice on-line friendships so I would recommend this approach.
It is, of course, very slow in building a following but, hey – unless you are one in a million lucky it is unlikely you’ll have much of a following as a writer until at least the third book Patience is the key here. It is so easy to get despondent and I wonder sometimes how many writers, good writers with real potential, give up as their books sink below the wash of pulp and self-published misery-lit, unread and unremarked. Local bookshops can be a life-line here. Every book can go on Amazon, of course. That’s part of the problem. How can you attract any attention in such a crowd? But a local bookshop can offer a showcase – perhaps a signing or even a reading. Sometimes they put the book in the window. That’s an exciting moment, believe me.
If you’re lucky enough to be invited to speak on local radio take the time to prepare, have a couple of anecdotes ready and be sure to thank everyone who has helped you get this far. Barely 1% of writers are commercially published so just making the cut is a big deal – and none of us make it alone. Oh yes, and let people know when and where they can hear you. In my case, 2pm – 3pm on BBC Radio Tees, Wednesday 8th October (and for a week after on i-player). There, I hope you will all tune in and enjoy my choice of music and listen to us chat about life, writing and the universe in general.
There are also bad ways an author can get attention. In my case I have been setting off the security alarms in my local supermarket for the last few days. No, I’m not shoplifting. This has happened on the way in. I’ve emptied my pockets, left my bank card home, even taken off my watch but to no avail. As I go through the door all heads swivel in my direction and I curse the fact I am wearing one of my “Jennie Finch – The Moth Man” publicity T-shirts. Well, last night I had a good hunt through everything I was wearing and uncovered the culprit, a security tag in my jeans left there by the shop assistant in France. It is with some relief I can go out shopping again in relative anonymity.
Still, on the plus side, Amazon report a sharp rise in book sales and Kindles so I guess it is true to say any publicity is good publicity.