Thursday, February 26, 2015

Book Promotion and its Pitfalls

James O. Born

Over the coming months there are several areas of writing and publishing I hope to touch upon in these blogs.  We'll talk about realism (at least in terms of crime fiction), what it was like to find out you had sold your first novel and then delve into the different mainstream genres including romance, science fiction, historical fiction and, of course, crime fiction.  The timeline on all of this is somewhat dependent on the other authors I recruit to write about their experiences, as well as the release of my next novel.

A novel release in itself is a curious topic.  Everyone approaches it differently and the X factor includes your publisher and their relative power in the market, their interest in the book, as well as your standing in the community of readers.  This will be my first book release (that I didn't cowrite) since the explosion of Facebook and the collapse of Borders and other booksellers.

First and most importantly, you must work with your publicist at the publisher.  I have found my publicist to be very engaging and interested.  She has done an excellent job of dispersing arcs (advanced reader copies) across the country and is currently working with me to arrange dates to appear at bookstores.  A number of stores specifically requested me through the publisher, but several contacted me directly.  That's the advantage of having other books on the market and getting to know booksellers.

Once I realized the book was coming out this year I let it be known that I would be available for speaking engagements and as a result have several opportunities at library events as well as book festivals.  This all sounds easy, but it actually takes a lot of time.  Time I would normally be writing.  I hate to be mercenary about it, but as a professional writer I want to get paid for my time.  Time is the writer's greatest asset and worst liability.  It's difficult to say no to some events but it's necessary to be discerning.

Now onto Facebook.  I am still somewhat clueless.  I have started an author page but most people keep track of me through my personal page.  That's fine, but it has been difficult to separate the two professionally and personally.  All I really want to do on my author page is get out simple information like what the book is about and when it is coming out.  I also intend to list  my appearances so that if someone chooses to, they can attend.  It seems that the sharing function on Facebook is also a great boon.  Several people sharing information leads to that many more eyes looking at it.  This is a work in progress which I will update you on later.

Now, after worrying about appearances and supporting a new book, you can't lose sight of your backlist.  In my case that backlist is on Amazon.  In fact, today and tomorrow, my fourth novel, Field of Fire is available for free on Amazon.  It is my hope that someone checking out Field of Fire might also be interested in Scent of Murder.

I'll have more to say on this as I learn more about this book tour.  It's just one more thing I'd like you to keep in mind when you consider writing your own novel.

See you next Thursday.


  1. When my first book was published, I had no idea how much time would be taken up by promoting that book. Because I was a newbie, I said yes to every invitation. I logged in 2,800 miles that year, just driving to speaking events in and around my own neighborhood. It was exciting, though.

  2. It's daunting some times.

    I made a mistake and Field of Fire is free tomorrow and Saturday.

  3. from Jacqueline: I was just like Patty - I said "yes" to everything for several years, and realized that at one point I'd traveled to events pretty much non-stop for four months. It was good groundwork, but you have to draw back because you just can't keep writing under those circumstances. It was Laurie King who told me that, for however long you are on a book tour - a month, let's say - it can take you up to twice that length of time to get over it, given the intense travel and the pace. I know know many authors who get to a point where they say "no more" because it takes too much out of you, and you end up getting behind on your work. I can understand that, but there is the balance between doing what needs to be done for your book, and protecting your writing time. I am about to go out on a pretty intensive book tour in a couple of weeks, and together with the fact that I now travel a lot to see my elderly mother in the UK - being on the road is hard work! The welcoming bookstores make it worth it though, very much so.

  4. I agree with other commenters that it might not always be in your best interest to say yes to everything. Sure, every experience provides learning opportunities but as you mentioned, an author's time is so precious.