How to publicize your novel is a question most writers don’t start to worry about until the event is upon them. Let’s face it – there have been too many other things on our minds till then. Like writing the darned thing, finding an agent and getting an editor to be your new best friend. Important stuff. Publicity can wait.
But your publisher has been thinking about the selling of your book from the moment they read the drop-dead-brilliant opening lines: Where will this sit in the bookshop? What commercially successful titles is it similar to? Can I sell the book? Can I sell the author?
The hard truth of being a writer today is this: more books are being written than ever before, more titles are being published than at any time in history, but sales are not increasing. You do the maths.
Perhaps we should be thinking about publicity after all.
So here are some of the best known shortcuts to getting column inches and getting people talking about (and hopefully deciding to buy) your novel.
1) Have had a career as a journalist and therefore have lots of favours you can call in.
2) Be good friends with the author in-crowd so they will give you quotes to put on the back of your book and perhaps even write a review for the newspaper.
3) Be a celebrity. Or date a celebrity. Or get a celebrity to take out a restraining order against you. Or any combination of the above. (Or almost any other sentence that contains the word ‘celebrity’)
And if none of the above apply, how about these:
1) Put in time working with the local media. Keep knocking on their doors. Always say yes to their requests, even if they want you in the radio station to review the papers at 7am and won’t pay your bus fare. (Or be writer in residence in the local bus station for the morning).
2) Put time in working with the libraries and librarians in your region. Readers group after readers group. Year after year. These are your friends.
3) Over-prepare for every presentation. Even if you are giving away your time for free. If the local radio station has invited you in for 5 minutes of comment on the recent spate of fly-tipping, spend hours preparing, researching, rehearsing. Always shine.
4) If your novel wins something in a competition – even if it some small, local affair - start referring to it as an award winning novel. Keep honing and updating your biography.
5) Network with other writers, performers and artists. Go to their launch events. Be generous with your friendship. Support them and they will hopefully support you. And even if they don’t, it should be a pleasure.
6) Make each thing you write better than the last.
7) Have a website so people can find you when they need to.
8) And, yes, keep a blog.