It is a truth universally acknowledged that in our brave new world of publishing (sorry, mixing my literary allusions here) the author has to sell as well as write. This is particularly the case if you are self or indie published, but I know for a fact that even friends signed up by the ‘big six’ are expected to play just as big a part in their own marketing. Very few of us have the time skills or even enthusiasm to go about it in anything resembling a professional manner, and I’m all too aware my own efforts (even though I’m no shrinking violet!) have been sorely lacking in focus or overall planning.
Just as well then that for the rest of you help is at hand. Debbie Young’s Sell your Books is a manual for authors that covers everything from getting a website to writing and sending out a press release, with advice along the way on using social media, book launches and all the ways of getting your book ‘out there’. But it’s not just a list of tips. It has a clear structure that begins with a useful assessment of the publishing industry and advice on identifying your target market. It ends with some home truths on getting your product right before you venture into the market at all. The intervening chapters are detailed enough for the author to get a feel for what do or not do without being overly technical. For me the chapters on real world book launches and dealing with the media were the most useful; the section radio interviews was particularly illuminating!
If I have a criticism of Debbie’s book, it might be that it’s a bit thin on using social media. I would also have liked a contents page and/or index in the Kindle version so that I can dip in and out. But I still wish I had bumped into Debbie and read her book a year ago!
Then, just as I was writing this review, up popped Janice Horton (of LAHE fame) with an invitation to her online launch party for her own new book How to Party Online. Completely different in tone and approach to Sell Your Books, this is an account of how Janice has used virtual parties to dramatically boost her sales. Interestingly she takes as a starting point how she organised a ‘real’ book launch some years ago and compares the process (and outcome) to running both Facebook and blog parties with detailed accounts of the planning and execution in a style that’s chatty but very informative.
I can imagine that very many of you out there will be squirming (or simply at a loss!) at the thought of a party on Facebook or a blog, but trust me, if you are prepared to get into the vibe, it really is quite entertaining to go along to one (I am quite proud of being mentioned as a visitor as the Voodoo Wedding event!) and you don’t need to stay long (but might find that you do). Participants are usually invited to submit photos or ideas in keeping with the party theme which can spark off lots of interaction. Janice also backs up her advice by analysing the success of each event, which shows that they really have worked for her.This book is much more limited in its scope than Debbie’s but taken together these could both be very useful additions to our armoury as writers, publishers and entrepreneurs, which Janice reminds us we have to be. And if I’ve missed the first boat in putting any of this advice into practice, as Debbie says, it’s not all about the launch. As time goes on I should still be promoting my book and future books – and who knows, I might even find an excuse for a party.