Self Promotion Part 2 - Promote in Print or in Person
Updated: Jan 7, 2020
Having been around the publishing industry for a little while now and attended talks and panels with industry professionals, I occasionally get asked for advice about how to get a book read by more people.
So I have some advice, but I have split it into a few articles as the draft ended up a long to be a single article.
Part 2 - Promote in print or in person
My advice, it comes with the caveat that there is no right answer in publishing and book promotion, there is no magic bullet, it is mostly a combination of luck, trends in book marketing and the personal taste of a variety of industry professionals. Although it does obviously help if your writing quality is high and you have written a good book, but just being a good writer is not necessarily enough. Having said all that, you can increase your chances of being lucky in a combination of ways.
You may read this and wonder whether all this effort is worth it, it does not guarantee you a published book, let alone a best seller. You can always find a successful author that does not have a social media presence or a website, so you may question if you really need to do any of these things. And really nobody can answer that, is it possible to be successful without these... yes, are you guaranteed success... no... but if you want to do all you can to be the most successful writer you can be these are my suggestions.
So so here is:
Part 2 - Promote in Print or in Person
1. Join a UK Organisations
These are useful for contacts, advice and networking. The first two at least run free social events, which are a good opportunity to network.
2. Attending Events
Many publishers and agents have said they are more likely to look at an unsolicited manuscript if it is from a name they know or says in the covering letter "listening to your talk at x event..." Which means you need to be at events to meet people. I know some authors have gone with their manuscript to an event and secured agents and publishers at the event itself.
It's also an opportunity to meet other authors, reviewers and people who love to read. Other authors are the people most likely to understand what you are going through, to celebrate your wins and and empathise with your set backs. There are also opportunities for cross promotion with other authors, reviewers and bloggers. Supportive followers on social media who engage with your posts help create a buzz, which attracts further followers.
As well as getting contacts these events have discussions, panels and master classes on all areas of writing and getting published as well as an opportunity to get noticed by taking part in panels or book readings. Its is often worth getting in touch with event organisers directly, or look on their site for how to get included in panels etc, rather than relying on your publis
Do check if it is possible to have your book on sale at the event, often there is a dealers table for Indy or self published authors. If you are on a panel you might ask the moderator if they would be ok with you mentioning that your book(s) is on sale either as part of your introduction or at the conclusion of the panel.
See more on this in my article about events.
This might not seem to be the obvious part of these blog posts to discuss Awards, most of these are voted for online or via other remote voting options. However a large number of science fiction and fantasy awards are voted on or have a nominations lists by attendees of events. The British Fantasy awards are nominated by attendees of Fantasycon, the Hugo's by attendees of Worldcon, the British Science Fiction Awards by attendees of Eastercon.
I don't think it is a total coincidence that many of the nominated works are written by authors that attend the corresponding event. I don't think people are necessarily voting for their friends as such, but that they are more likely to be aware of the author's new books and have read them in the first year of release (which is the timescale for voting) if they have met the author, follow them on social media or attended the book launch. All of which are more likely if the author is attending events.
Of course the flip side of that is that if you have upset or offended people active in those areas they are less likely to nominate or vote for your works.
4. Launch Events and Book Tours
Launching a new book is a key time to ensure you get noticed and if you are being published by someone else it will be a time where they are likely to expect / be willing to invest some time and maybe money into your book.
Launch events, perhaps with a reading or Q&A, book signings, maybe some refreshments, are a good way to get noticed. This could be held at your local bookshop or in partnership with a social event or convention run by another organisation such as the BFS or the BSFA.
Book tours traditionally involve a number of appearances at bookshops and social events in different parts of the country, essentially a number of launch events promoted together.
There are often options to advertise at events, in a programme booklet, flyers in goodie bags, a poster on a wall or a table in the dealers room, depending on the event.
Publications such as magazines often have adverts.
5. Printed Material
Paying for printed material, flyers etc. can be risky as they often go out of date and it is difficult to judge how many you need. If you are meeting people face to face it is worth having a good business card.
Flyers or similar can be worthwhile if you have a specific product or event to promote. I personally like business card flyers, but they do leave limited room for text, so they are mostly effective when you are able to talk to someone about the product, book or event.
Please go onto Part 3 - Be a Better Writer
Hopefully you have found this useful, do let me know if you have any other ideas by commenting below.