Every Writers’ Wednesday, a successful self-published author shares a favourite book promotion tip here on Debbie Young’s Off The Shelf blog
Lindsay Stanberry-Flynn is the author I must thank for inspiring this series of guest posts in the first place. I blogged a couple of months ago about her “Why I Write” series, in which she’d kindly included me (read that post here).
I was pleased to be invited also to her most recent book launch, where Lindsay, an experienced teacher of English and creative writing, was clearly in her element. She entertained a packed hall of potential readers who between them bought nearly every copy of her books on sale there, including her previous novel.
It was therefore no surprise when she revealed that her favourite way to promote her books focuses on connecting with the readers in many different settings, as my interview with her reveals.
Debbie Young: What’s your favourite book promotion tip? It doesn’t need to be the one that sells the most books – it could just be the one you most enjoy.
Lindsay Stanberry-Flynn: My favourite book promotion tip is to find ways to engage directly with readers. This can be visiting book groups, talks at libraries, and I was once commissioned to write a short story for a particular reading group!
Debbie Young: How do you do it? Please give brief instructions!
Lindsay Stanberry-Flynn: The talks in libraries have come about by various means. I’ll try to keep it brief and give a few examples. When I published Unravelling, I approached a library close to the college where I teach creative writing, (as I knew that would ensure at least a few people attended!), to ask if I could give a talk on it. I met an incredibly supportive librarian, who set up a brilliant event. About thirty people came; they asked lots of interesting questions, and I sold lots of books.
When my second novel The Piano Player’s Son came out last year, I went to my local library to tell them about it, and they invited me to give a talk on 23rd April as part of their World Book Night celebrations. I was also invited to another library on 25th.
Recently, I was invited to take part in Warwickshire Libraries’ ‘Fantastic Fun with Words Fortnight’. I spoke at two separate libraries – on both occasions, several book groups had been invited – about my books and being a writer. Both were lovely evenings with wine, cake and, again, some great questions. Not only was I able to sell books, I was also paid to do those events!
As well as talks, I enjoy visiting book groups who have read one of my novels. This is a more intimate opportunity for readers to question you about your characters and their motivations. It’s especially rewarding when a particular character’s actions generates debate. At a group I went to recently, one of the members said ‘I’m talking about them as if they’re real people.’ I couldn’t resist replying ‘They are, aren’t they?’
Debbie Young: Why do you particularly enjoy this activity?
Lindsay Stanberry-Flynn: First, after spending so much time alone with my characters and their stories, it’s wonderful to meet readers who know those characters, have shared in their lives, and have opinions about their actions. Second, by engaging with readers, I’m promoting myself as a writer. As well as discussing individual books, readers are always interested in the writing process: Where do you get your ideas? Do you write every day? Do you have to wait for inspiration? The best promotion for books is word of mouth, and if readers feel they have shared in your creative process, they are more likely to become your advocates.
Debbie Young: Which book(s) have you used it for and when?
Lindsay Stanberry-Flynn: As I’ve outlined in question 2, I’ve used it for both my novels. It’s probably most effective in the first year or so after publication, but when I discuss my most recent novel The Piano Player’s Son, I inevitably also talk about Unravelling which was published nearly four years ago.
Debbie Young: If you were doing it again for another book tomorrow, would you do it any differently?
Lindsay Stanberry-Flynn: I’m always open to suggestions for improving promotional activities – I don’t feel marketing is one of my strengths – but, hoping not to sound too complacent, I feel these activities have been successful.
Debbie Young: Which part of the book promotion process do you like least?
Lindsay Stanberry-Flynn: I’m not a very good sales person. The thought of cold calling fills me with horror, so I don’t like anything that smacks of ‘selling’. In a crowded world, where so many seem to be shouting ‘Look at me’, ‘Buy me’, ‘Listen to me’, ‘Watch me’, my inclination is to hide away and write. But my books deserve better – there’s no point bringing them into this world and then abandoning them to their fate. So, I’ll keep trying to champion them.
Debbie Young: Can you name one promotional activity that you’d like to try that you haven’t tried yet – or tried but not yet perfected?
Lindsay Stanberry-Flynn: So far, I’ve resisted Twitter. Everyone says it’s great for writers. Last year, I even went on a day course on how to use it, but when I see all those tweets, my brain freezes over. I don’t think I can face it.
But something I haven’t tried and would like to do is Pinterest. As I live in a world of words, I’m attracted to the visual aspect of it. I think it would be interesting and fun – two words I definitely wouldn’t apply to Twitter!
Debbie Young: Is there anything else you’d like to share with readers now? e.g. news of your next book or event.
Lindsay Stanberry-Flynn: After a difficult time with my next book (where I reluctantly had to come to terms with the fact that I had two narratives jammed into one), I’m now excited to be moving forward. The story I’ve decided to tackle first once again involves family relationships – like my two previous novels. It’s about the clash between personal ambition and family responsibility: in the current culture of self-fulfillment at all costs, and the prevailing wisdom that if you want something enough, you will achieve it, the story involves the fallout if the drive towards one’s own goal is pursued to an extreme. The provisional title of the novel is Phoenix.
Thank you so much, Debbie, for inviting me to share my experiences of promoting my work on your blog. I’ve enjoyed answering your questions and remembering how rewarding the events I’ve described were. The positive side of promotion!
Debbie Young: Thank you for taking part, Lindsay, and I’ll look forward to the launch of Phoenix!
I’ve reviewed both of Lindsay’s novels on my author website – click the title to hop to the review:
To find out more about Lindsay Stanberry-Flynn and to read her always interesting and inspiring blog, visit her website: www.lindsaystanberryflynn.co.uk.
FOR MORE TIPS FOR SELF-PUBLISHED & INDIE AUTHORS:
- subscribe to the free Off The Shelf Newsletter
- read Sell Your Books! by Debbie Young
- join the Alliance of Independent Authors (ALLi) (Debbie Young edits their blog)