At the end of March this year, I was invited to speak at the Writing East Midlands Conference at the University of Nottingham. I took part in two panels alongside other authors: The Truth and Lies about Self-Publishing and Promoting Your Book.
The conference itself was extremely well-run and I enjoyed every minute of it, the highlight for me being Matt Haig’s key note speech.
I felt a bit of a fraud being asked to appear on these panels; after all, my first book had only been out for six months at the time. Nevertheless, I think I acquitted myself alright on the day.
After each session I was stopped several times in the corridor by delegates quizzing me further about things I had mentioned. One eager beaver even followed me into the loo! I was amazed at how interested people were about my small amount of book marketing and self-publishing experience and so I thought I’d summarise the points I made on my blog. My notes on the Self-Publishing session are in the pipeline, but here are the questions and my answers to Promoting Yourself As A Writer:
1. When you started out in writing, were you aware of the amount of promotion that would be involved? No. It took me by surprise and promotion is self-perpetuating: the more you do, the more you get asked to do. Once Conditional Love started to climb the Amazon charts more bloggers got in touch and asked me to feature on their blogs. And on Twitter there is an etiquette to adhere to: thanking those who retweet you, sharing relevant content with your followers… it all takes time.
2. How much promotion do you tend to do in-person through events/launches and the like?
Only a small proportion of my promotion is done in person. I did hold my book launch in the village phone box and I’ve done a book-signing in Waterstones. My sales are predominantly Kindle so far so online marketing is my focus. But print and radio are important too. Local media are especially interested in local authors with a story to tell and I have had amazing support from the Nottingham Post.
3.How much of your promotion do you do online, via your own sites, blogs and social media?
I spend at least an hour and some days up to three hours on promotion: tweets, Facebook, writing guest posts and writing for my own blog.
4. Is the promotion aspect of being a writer something that you enjoy?
I really enjoy it. It’s a privilege to respond to messages from readers. It can take over your life at times. When the press release about my new contract with Transworld broke on The Bookseller, I had about 150 retweets and messages to answer in the space of two hours. I think that was my proudest moment so far.
5. What advice would you give to any aspiring author about promotion?
PLATFORM Build an author platform: blog, FB page and twitter. Make sure you enrol with Amazon’s Author central and Goodreads and link everything with everything else
DON’T OVER SELL Make the most of every opportunity, but don’t over promote. Readers will very quickly get bored of ‘Buy my Book’ messages.
GOODREADS Be careful how you use Goodreads, be visible and accessible, but let readers come to you.
BLOG TOUR If you are self-published find someone who runs bookblog tours for your genre and pay for a tour. This will open doors for you.
PRICE Use price as a marketing tool, don’t over price yourself, but don’t be afraid to play with pricing.
Here’s a picture of the audience at the Promoting Yourself As A Writer workshop:
My thanks to Writing East Midlands for inviting me to participate in this wonderful event!
Cathy is the author of the best-selling romantic comedies Ivy Lane, Appleby farm, The Lemon Tree Cafe and A Vintage Summer. She lives in a Nottinghamshire village with her family and Pearl, the Cockerpoo.
Her recent career as a full-time writer of light-hearted romantic fiction has come as somewhat of a lovely surprise after spending eighteen years running her own marketing agency. However, she has always been an avid reader, hiding her book under the duvet and reading by torchlight. Now she thinks she may have found her dream job.