This week I have been in America running sessions with students at the British International school of Washington . I could have just gone into the school and delivered what I wanted. I didn't do this and instead talked to the school in advance and tailored my workshops to their needs. Apart from jet lag it went really well. The kids were great and I thoroughly enjoyed working with them. It was also super when students came to see me to say that they had downloaded my book - so I must have made some kind of impression!
What would you do to create a buzz? How would you make people sit up and take notice of you and your book?
I wanted and still want to stand out from the crowd. Every writer probably wants the same. I have tried many different ways - some have worked, some have not. Before the release of my first book, I felt just contacting people about the release with a standard letter was a bit boring. Consequently, I cut out newspapers and made a ransom note for my two main characters. World Radio Switzerland in Geneva really got into it but the BBC did not. I received an email from BBC security asking me to reply within 24 hours or they would be going to the police. Oops! After I replied, they smacked me on the wrist (in words) and then wished me success in my writing career. It made me laugh though. My advice then is create a buzz but be careful in what you do.
I also spent a lot of money for PR Newswire to run a press release for me that would go global. Apart from an interview on Washington Radio station, during which I was terrible (get some media training!) nothing at all happened. Therefore, my suggestion would be to start small in an area that you feel comfortable with and don’t try to take over the whole world at once.
You are going to make mistakes in trying to create a buzz regarding your book. My advice is don't worry about these, learn from them and move on. Enjoy the journey, when you are climbing a mountain it always good to admire the scenery as you ascend.
In my opinion, and in my experience, social media does not sell books. It can drive people to your website, it can keep people informed about what you are doing, but it does not sell your books. According to Tim Grahl, email lists sell more books, but why is this? I can describe the difference between social media and emails as this...
If you are at a party and you stand in the middle of the room and shout ‘buy my book’ the following will happen. Most people will ignore you as they are involved in their own conversations, some people will look at you disapprovingly, most will forget what you said and a few may go and buy your book. This is social media.
If you are at a party, you are talking to someone and you discover that they like action and adventure books, and you talk about your book and where to buy it, then they are much more likely to go and buy it. You have formed a connection based on a shared interest. This is an email subscription list.
Unfortunately, you can’t attend parties all the time to promote your book and speak to everyone there. However, you do need to create a buzz about your book before it is released and social media can help with this. You may have one thousand facebook friends but you don't have one thousand book buyers. Selling books involves a lot than just being friends with them or having them follow you. It is time to think creatively!
When building your own website, or getting someone to do it for you, make sure it is named correctly. This will enable people to find you, so make it easy for them. Use your name and, if that has been taken, add ‘writer’ (or something similar) to the beginning or the end. My writing name is A.D. Winch but my website is winchad. In hindsight, I would probably change this.
On your website, tell everyone you are an author so they knew who you are. Take a look at mine (www.winchad.com). Make sure that you have:
However, on every page make sure there is a link to you novel or novels. Your website should provide the reader with content that interests them and encourages them to buy your book.
Now get yourself an email address with the same address as your site.
If you are going to blog regularly try to create blogs that interest or amuse or help people. Unless you live a truly exciting life your daily ramblings may well turn people away!
Once you think you have finished find two critical friend to test out your site - one should rarely use the internet (they do exist!) and the other should be media savvy. Once they give you the thumbs up, you can publish your writer's website.
JK Rowlings is one of the most successful authors ever. I had never heard about her, or Harry Potter, until the fourth book. I was living in Sri Lanka at the time and when the sixth Harry Potter book was released, book shops hired delivery men to bring it to people’s doors just after midnight. Before the fourth book was released Harry Potter reached a tipping point.
The first Harry Potter book was released in July 1997 it sold 4.2 million books in the UK. Book seven sold 4.5 million and Book two, three, four, five, and six sold between 3 and 4 million. Worldwide it has sold 450 million. I would love to have the same number of book sales as JK Rowlings but Harry Potter was a phenomenon and phenomenons don’t happen very often.
Despite all these sales, what do you think happened when 'Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s/Philosopher’s Stone' was released? Nothing. The second book – the Chamber of Secrets – did better and reached number one for a month and then the third book was released to media acclaim. Once 'Prisoner of Azkaban' was out, it went to number one while the first two books held the other two places in the top three.
It’s quite a success story but when the book arrived at Bloomsbury in 1994, JK Rowlings was paid two thousand five hundred pounds and the initial print run was only five hundred. To become a successful author takes time (it wasn’t until 1999 that it really took off), patience and perseverance. If you define success as being the next JK Rowlings, you’ll be disappointed.
Hugh Howey is an independent author who has sold more than 1,000,000 books but I imagine you have never heard of him. He captained yachts for a number of years, met a girl, decided to move to dry land and began to write. Over ten years, nothing much happened then he wrote a novella called Wool which became a hit and the demand from readers was for more, so he wrote more. Once again it took time.
I have been doing this for seven months, so I have a while before I become the next JK Rowlings or Hugh Howey!
is the author of the popular 'Adventures of Eric and Ursula' books. The series have been called 'wonderful' and 'fantastic' and are 5 star books on Amazon.