Every Writers’ Wednesday, a successful self-published author shares a favourite book promotion tip here on Debbie Young’s Off The Shelf blog
I first met thriller writer Alison Morton online via our mutual publisher, SilverWood Books, and soon realised this British indie author, living in France, is a veritable whirlwind.
With endless energy and self-belief, she tirelessly promotes her fast-expanding Roma Nova alternative history series. I’ve read all three books in the series and am looking forward to the fourth.
I’m delighted that she’s somehow managed to find time in between launching book three and finishing book four to stop by Off The Shelf to share her top tip for book marketing.
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.
Alison Morton: Talking to real people. Although I’m a full-on social media enthusiast, and adore making book trailers on YouTube or blogging about Roman life, I love face-to-face contact at launches, fairs, fetes, libraries, conferences or in the airport lounge!
Debbie Young: How do you do it? Please give brief instructions!
Alison Morton: I carry Roma Nova – the imaginary country where my books are set – in my head so I’m ready to talk about it, and its heroines and heroes, at the drop of a sestertius. I was often told off at school for being a chatterbox…
On the practical side, I carry A6 size postcards with me for each book in my handbag. They carry the shiny front cover image on one side and the book blurb with publisher details and prices on the plain matt reverse.
The cards were produced by my publisher, SilverWood Books, and I’m already on my second thousand for Inceptio, my first book. I give them out freely so that people have a tangible reminder of my book well after they have stopped talking with me. I’ve heard at business seminar that 62% of people retain paper-based information about a product they’re interested in. I also use the postcards in goody bags for conferences, to put on chairs at a talk venue, to leave at reception desks. But I like handing them to people best.
Talking to people, I keep to the same basic information, but tailor it to the audience. For instance, a group of romantic novelists generally wants more about personal and emotional relationships, and a history group will be looking for research and the alternative historical development of Roma Nova.
Debbie Young: Why do you particularly enjoy this activity?
Alison Morton: The instant feedback! It’s still a source of wonderment to me that people are happy to let me burble on about my books, but I’ve been told that they love my enthusiasm. I’ve had wonderful conversations about the Roma Nova school system, religion, characterisation, how do I know all about special forces procedures, how did I make Carina and Conrad so complex, and are the Roma Nova books feminist? (Of course!)
So far, and I stress the ‘so far’, I haven’t met anyone who’s been rude or cross at these personal meetings…
As a reader, I love author talks and nearly always buy the book!
Debbie Young: Which book(s) have you used it for and when?
Alison Morton: All three books.
None of my books is going to be the Great British Novel; I write speculative thrillers that appeal to many different types of reader from 17 to 85.
I think it’s important to show yourself to your readers and the book-buying public. If you have confidence in your story and have produced a top-notch physical book, then it’s so much easier. I launched Inceptio and Perfiditas at Waterstones in Tunbridge Wells and gave a talk about Inceptio at the library in the village where I lived for 24 years.
Debbie Young: If you were doing it again for another book tomorrow, would you do it any differently?
Alison Morton: That’s easy – no!
Debbie Young: Which part of the book promotion process do you like least?
Alison Morton: The time it eats up when I could be writing the next adventure, but that’s a little precious of me because I have to let people know about the book I’m promoting.
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?
Alison Morton: The one is guaranteed to work. Seriously, book promotion is about trying all kinds of things. Some readers want more hard information, others love to hear about motivation. Some love collecting cards, pens, badges and bookmarks from a ‘live’ event, others enjoy interacting on social media. And they buy a book for as many different reasons.
Debbie Young: Is there anything else you’d like to share with readers now? e.g. news of your next book or event.
Alison Morton: Giving talks and chatting face-to-face is also about giving back to your readers, undiscovered readers and other writers. This is why I’m doing talks at two conferences this summer: the Romantic Novelists’ Association and the Historical Novel Society Conference.
Now that Successio is out, I need to step back from strong promotion and get on with writing book four, working title Aurelia, featuring the early years of one of the main secondary characters form the first three books. She’s tough and resilient when we meet her in Inceptio, but she had a pretty rough ride when younger with a particularly nasty traitor targeting her…
Debbie Young: I can’t wait to read this one – Aurelia is my favourite character! Thank you for taking time out from your busy schedule to take part in this interview, Alison, it is a joy to share your enthusiasm and commitment with my readers.
I’ve reviewed all three of Alison Morton’s novels, and you’ll find links to them and many other book reviews on my author website here: http://authordebbieyoung.com/reviews/directory-of-book-reviews/.
The books are quickly gaining a huge and enthusiastic audience around the world. The first two have just been awarded the prestigious Indie Brag Medallion and were shortlisted for Writing Magazine’s 2014 Self-Published Book of the Year Award. Wow!
For more information about Alison Morton, visit her author website here: http://www.alison-morton.com.
FOR MORE TOP TIPS FOR SELF-PUBLISHED & INDIE AUTHORS: