Your first book is published. Fame at last! Followed swiftly by fortune, one hopes. But will your publisher help you along the way to fame? Unlikely, unless you’re already famous. This article outlines the truth of book marketing for unknown authors, but be prepared for unvarnished truth you might find deeply depressing.
All that effort to get the book written, perfected, and published… and the copies sit on the warehouse shelves waiting for the news to get out. Book signings, lit festivals, blog tours, press releases, book trailers, social media campaigns, celeb endorsements, reviews… the publisher’s job, yes?
No. For an unknown first-timer, no. Publishers’ marketing budgets go on big name authors, not newbies. A hard fact of the writing life.
It turns out that all these promotional schemes and scams might boost your ego, but they don’t do much for book sales. Really, not much at all. And avoid book signings unless you have a guaranteed ready-made audience waiting to queue for your signature. Every author has horror stories about the echoing loneliness of book signings.
Bottom line: write the book, outline the sequels, find the agent, get the publishing deal. Swig back the bubbly, then prepare for the slog of flogging your book without much help from your publisher or the uninterested media and book-buying public. You need to be thick-skinned, innovative and ruthless to get your name known and your book talked about. It can be done. You can do it.
I’m so grateful to my long-time friend Lesley Cookman for revealing some of the secrets of a bestselling novelist‘s life. Read today’s guest blog to see what you have in common with her, and get a sneak preview of the cover of her next book (which won’t be published for months yet).
Lesley is the author of the Libby Serjeant series of murder mysteries, with the eighteenth recently published – Murder by the barrel. Each new book whizzes to the top of its category on the Amazon bestseller charts, but despite Lesley’s success, the writing life is still not easy. But it is rewarding… Read Lesley’s guest blog here – and do ask questions in the ‘comments’ bit!
…illustrated children’s book. This is a great insight into some of the challenges and solutions for writers itching to get their story told: a piece by Michael Gallant for the BookBaby blog. Read, then get writing!
Jen Blood, writing on the Creative Penn’s blog today, explains five ways to make readers come back to your characters, book after book, episode after episode…
“From television to movie franchises to fiction in every genre imaginable, the world loves a good series.
Plot is certainly part of it, but, with rare exceptions, we can just as easily see the same story played out in a standalone feature. The reason we keep coming back to the series – whatever medium it may be – is because of the characters. We want to know how they’re doing, where they’ll end up, who they’ll hop into bed with next. We want to see them conquer the bad guy… Or get conquered doing it. We become invested in them; they become like better looking, cooler versions of ourselves, our friends, and our family.
As a writer, the question of how to craft the perfect serial character may seem on its surface to be no different than how to craft any great character: Just come up with a general background, give them great hair and a few charming quirks and… Voila, you’ve got yourself a bonafide hero – someone the world will love to come home to, time and again.
Not so fast.
Because there are things like character arc, consistency, story arc, believability, and the matter of maintaining interest over the long term, creating a great serial character is a whole different ballgame. Here, then, are five steps to creating a character who will stand the test of time… Read the rest here
Jen Blood is a freelance journalist, reviewer, and editor, and author of the critically-acclaimed Erin Solomon mysteries All the Blue-Eyed Angels and Sins of the Father. She holds an MFA in Creative Writing/Popular Fiction from the University of Southern Maine, and does seminars and one-on-one tutorials on writing, social media, and online marketing for authors.Jen also runs the website http://bloodwrites.com, which features reviews, interviews, excerpts, and writing-related posts for readers and writers of the mystery,suspense, and thriller genres.
On October 15th, Jen will be releasing a collection of short stories on Amazon with four other authors of serial mysteries called Serial Sleuths, Volume I: Haunted. The stories feature each author’s serialized characters in ghostly or paranormal mysteries, to celebrate the Halloween season. All five authors featured in the collection have agreed to donate 100% of their profits to the non-profit organization Doctors Without Borders. To learn more, visit http://erinsolomon.com/serial-sleuths.
If you’re uncertain of your English usage, or you wonder how to manipulate the language of Shakespeare, Milton and EL James to best effect, or want a giggle, have a look at this.
Professor Stanley Unwin was the marvellous creature, a Great British eccentric. For at least two centuries he befugglode, twistymole and mangule all the Eggling languhole to such a degree that James Joyce declared him a genius.
His address is now A Celestibole Cloudy, whence he dictates his wisdoles to a grateful readingdom.
Author Kate Harrison has done her own survey on people’s reading habits – what they love, loathe, buy and borrow, what they recommend and why. Fascinating and informative for writers, publishers and other readers.
Amongst other questions, Kate asked which three words best summed up what you wanted novels to be like. The top 4 words (number 3 and 4 were very close) were:
She also surveyed publishers and agents. Here are three of the comments made:
Nicki Thornton, of Mostly Books in Abingdon, said: ‘Readers are always on the lookout for something that really speaks to them. It takes a lot of time to read a book and if it feels like time not well spent at the end of it I think people do feel disappointed. People do seem to be looking for something ‘a little more’ out of their reading rather than something very throwaway and lightweight.’
Agent Maddy Milburn said that debut authors are having orders cut, and she’s seen an increase in the demand for accessible literary books – as did Avon editor Sammia Rafique, who called these books ‘smart fiction’. But Maddy also pointed out that how the book is marketed makes a huge difference: ‘ONE DAY is essentially a love story but was given an iconic cover that appealed to both men and women.’ Sammia also called for more imaginative engagement with readers via social networking, to tap into their enthusiasm and interests.
Agent Carole Blake loathes the ‘chick lit’ label and its connotations of air-headedness – for me, she sums up the debate in the following: ‘Books that deliver a satisfying reading experience, but also leave the reader feeling they have learned something (historical facts, emotional intelligence, anything else) will leave the reader with the feeling that they have not only been entertained but also educated – they are validating their own leisure time and carrying away something more than ‘mere entertainment.’
“Give your readers as much information as possible as soon as possible. To hell with suspense. Readers should have such complete understanding of what is going on, where and why, that they could finish the story themselves, should cockroaches eat the last few pages.”
This is the last of Kurt Vonnegut’s eight tips on writing a short story.
And here’s No. 5:
“Start as close to the end as possible.”
And No.6, which I like partly because it’s good advice but partly because he gives Sadist a capital S, since it’s after the Marquis de Sade, who had one too.
“Be a Sadist. No matter how sweet and innocent your leading characters, make awful things happen to them – in order that the reader may see what they are made of.”
The missing numbers are worth knowing as well, so here they all are. Thanks to Brain Pickings, a fantastic resource for writers. Or a resource for fantastic writers. Or both, a fantastic writers’ resource.