Monday, December 28, 2009

Sorceress of Karres - and publicity

I'm going to be travelling on Monday – heading up to Johannesburg for our flight out to Australia, so I wrote this piece in advance. I've got a book (SORCERESS OF KARRES) coming out early in January so this is a soupcon of self-promotion and about the subject of the same.

In the long-ago, far away happier times authors wrote books. After all readers wanted the best read possible and beeing good with words didn't mean you were good at anything else. In fact the opposite was probably true, as every single bit of research shows true genius is almost always narrowly focussed. Being a great golfer doesn't make you a Geophysicist, and being an Oscar-winning actress almost certainly means that your grasp of politics is on a par with your ability to programme in MATLAB. And having a good way with words probably means you're a solitary reader who spends a lot of time in company of imaginary people and may well have the social/publicity-skills of a wolverine with a fetish for red lacy underwear and flashing at retirement complexes. That's why in those far-off happier times authors wrote. Agents sold their books to publishers, publishers hired staff to deal with the publicity etc. and the bargain was that each of you brought your special talent to the party and the reader got the best of everyone's ability used to tempt them into buying.

Well, the old compact is no more, and, for 95% of us, if you want to be a writer of fiction, you're going to have to make contributions to selling your books to publishers, and to publicity and marketing. Or you can hope you're in the 5%. Your call.

Now for me this is all as natural as a swimming is to fish... NOT. I'm still unsure how to do this, what works (or even if it does). Cons, blogs, bookmarks, t-shirts, getting on Radio, doing tours, readings and signings (unless you're 5% these will be at your own expense, and entirely organised by you.) However, in the nature of things the fact that you have no skills or resources for this and that promotion and marketing can and do have a huge impact -- will not influence the decision of the next acquisition editor. So it has to be part of your game plan, as much as writing every day was.

So if anyone has any bright ideas on how best to do this – I'm listening. We all are.

7 comments:

Jonathan D. Beer said...

As someone who has worked in bookshops for four years now, I'd like to throw my two-pence worth in on this one.

Self-publicising (as in the topic of this post, not self-publication) is, to my mind, eminently achievable on the local scale, and damn near impossible on the nation scale (as far as I can see it - I speak merely of my own experience and opinion).

Local radio, magazines and newspapers are always, always open to local authors pushing themselves to the fore with an article or something of that nature and, along with the internet, allows a savvy author to make quite an impression on a small scale. Should the author have a half-decent website, so much the better (or at the very least, a blog), since all these articles and mentions can include a link to said webpage. Showing inclusivity on the part of an author is, I think, an excellent way to ensnare potential readers, since they can develop some kind of link to the author beyond being just another name on the shop shelves.

On a national level, of course, is something which I imagine is far harder to do solo. I'm in favour of book trailers since they can also grab potential readers' attention. Beyond that, I have no ideas - I look forward to seeing what others suggest :)

Rowena Cory Daniells said...

Dave, this is a hard one.

The Karres books already have following. I know, I read them years ago and they stayed on my 'fave' list. So you have a ready made market.

The best publicity is word of mouth.

I went to a workshop recently where they said to use the scatter gun approach. Get your name and the name of the book out there as much as possible, in the hope that someone will see it enough times and be curious.

Personally, I'd much prefer to sit and write. And with the move you're int he middle of undertaking, I'm sure you feel the same way.

So, here's sending you lots of good thoughts. Hope everything goes smoothly and life soon settles down in Tassie.

Kate said...

I suspect Sarah's idea of free comics of the opening of the story is a good one. Beyond that... stuffed if I know.

Being the World's Greatest Introvert (not kidding, either - on the Briggs-Meyer personality tests, I routinely score 100% introvert) the idea of PR and talking up my own stuff is just... well, it's damn near unthinkable.

Ori Pomerantz said...

Everybody has a Web site, and everybody claims their stuff is the best. This, by itself, is not going to give you much.

What you need to do is tie yourself to something else that is popular, so that when people search for it they'll find you. To pick a "random" example, if you collaborate with, say, Eric Flint people who search for his books will find yours and become your fans. Writing in a blog with other writers who write similar material is also good, because some people will search for them, and then read you too. You already do both of those things.

Beyond that, you might try to be multi-genre so that readers of one genre will get to know you there, and then cross over and read you in other genres. But that could backfire, because you have a limited number of books you can write in a year. You have a science fiction and fantasy brand. You do not have a romance brand.

You can get yourself talked about. Tom Kratman says that after he got some really bad reviews in amazon.de his sales rank in that site jumped. However, he achieved that by being as subtle as a nuke. I don't think that's your style, but you might want to write a book that butchers a holy cow in public to see what happens. But it has to be a real holy cow - Shavian Socialism is already on sale at McDonalds in patty form, at least in the US. Of course, this could also backfire.

Another Tom Kratman trick, which may be more doable, is to become useful professional reading. In his case, Desert Called Peace is on the reading list for certain groups in the military. In your case, could you come up with an appendix to Slow Train to Arcturus that explains the ecology, and then have biology teachers / professors use that as a teaching tool?

A very popular form of entertainment these days is the web comic. If you could find an artist and devote a few minutes a day to writing a good story line, that might draw people who will then also buy your books.

Other than that, I have no idea. Good luck.

Sarah A. Hoyt said...

Dave,

Email me asap. Someone with a larger readership than either of us contacted me about giving you promo time recently. I emailed but no answer.

matapam said...

Dave's probably on an airplane, halfway to Australia. IIRC, he wanted to arrive with the new year.

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