Enter a Great Writing Competition! (Deadline 11 March)

W4W Logo3

Winning or being placed in a writing competition is a great way to add credibility to your author CV, and I’m delighted to share with you the opportunity to enter a well-established and ethical writing competition which not only rewards authors but also raises money for a very good cause: Words for the Wounded.

I met one of its founders, Margaret Graham, herself a published author, at the Chorleywood Literature Festival last year, and she’s here today to tell us all about it.

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Selling My Books: Malcolm Welshman’s Top Tip for Book Promotion

Dora with the book in her paw

Every Writers’ Wednesday, a successful author shares a favourite book promotion tip here on Debbie Young’s Off The Shelf blog This post’s going up a day early to fit in with the guest’s busy blog tour schedule! I’d first spotted Malcolm … Continue reading

Selling My Books: Carol Cooper’s Top Tip for Book Promotion

Every Writers’ Wednesday, a successful self-published author shares a favourite book promotion tip here on Debbie Young’s Off The Shelf blog

Carol Cooper headshot

The multi-talented, multi-tasking author Carol Cooper

I first met Carol Cooper via the Alliance of Independent Authors, of which we’re both Author Members, and soon discovered that as well as writing novels, she has a busy and successful career as a GP, a medical journalist for the UK’s top-selling newspaper, and lecturer to medical students at the prestigious Imperial College London. Oh, and she’s had lots of medical and healthcare books published too – phew! I thought I was busy till I met Carol…

Back to her burgeoning career as a novelistI really enjoyed her debut novel One Night at the Jacaranda (which I’ve reviewed here).

I’ve been very grateful to her for the support she’s given to my own book about diabetes, Coming to Terms With Type 1 Diabetes, (she’s given me permission to quote her review: “It’s a lovely uplifting little book, full of insight, wit, and practical know-how. I think it will appeal to anyone with Type 1 Diabetes and their family. Health professionals would also find it useful. The book is beautifully written. A little treasure as well as a ray of hope.”

She also beta-read a short story of mine about a GP, helping me get my facts right about an important plot point. “The Art of Medicine” is published in my new collection of flash fiction, Quick Change.

I’m therefore delighted that Carol’s somehow managed to find time in her busy life to stop by Off The Shelf to share her top tip for book marketing.

Cover of One Night at the Jacaranda

The new cover for Carol Cooper’s debut novel

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.

Carol Cooper: My favourite tip is based on exploring the world around my novel, which I think is advice I first heard from writer Jonathan Gunson.

So on my blog Pills & Pillow-Talk, I write occasional posts in which I let characters out of One Night at the Jacaranda to have new adventures.  Dan, Sanjay, Karen, and the rest of them are all fictional, but I know them pretty well by now so they’re friends.  It would be rude not to invite them round occasionally.

The posts are like some of the extra material you might get when you buy a DVD.  I can’t tell you how well they work to sell books, if at all, but I believe that as I’m selling almost exclusively online, then online is where I should concentrate my efforts.

Debbie Young: How do you do it? Please give brief instructions!

Carol Cooper:  I write each post from a character’s point of view, in the third person.  Using the present tense makes the text feel more like a blog post and helps distinguish it from events in the book itself.  I’ll add some photos, which usually also find their way onto my novel’s Pinterest page (http://www.pinterest.com/drcarolcooper/one-night-at-the-jacaranda/).   As each one is a mini-chapter in that character’s life, it’s short like most of my posts. And I try not to let the characters interact too much. There’s no point giving the plot away!

Debbie Young: Why do you particularly enjoy this activity?

Carol Cooper: I enjoy it because it’s creative and it’s directly about the material in the book, so I don’t feel I’m giving up writing time for promotional activities.   It also means I can add a few topical touches.  There’s one post where GP Geoff visits his grandmother, who’s now so dotty that she’s put up Christmas decorations in the bathroom (it’s not Christmas).  He muses about a new online cognitive test, so I included a link to that test.  And in a post last September called Female, 38, Seeks Altruistic Single Male, Laure has read new research showing that men who do charitable deeds make more desirable partners.

Debbie Young: Which book(s) have you used it for and when?

Carol Cooper: So far I’ve only used it for Night at the Jacaranda, but I’m looking forward to doing the same for the follow-up novel once I’ve finished it.  I don’t want to write any scenes that might end up in the story, or, even worse, contradict the story.  Of course, one can do much the same for non-fiction.  Say you’ve written a parenting title.  You could write a post on, for instance, keeping your toddler amused on a car journey.  As it happens, I have authored childcare books, but I wouldn’t actually do this on Pills & Pillow-Talk as I wouldn’t want my fiction and non-fiction sitting cheek by jowl on the same site.

Debbie Young: If you were doing it again for another book tomorrow, would you do it any differently?

Photo of large ornate outdoor clock

The clock in Marylebone, London, where the action kicks off at the opening of “One Night At The Jacaranda”

Carol Cooper: I suspect I would do much the same.  A friend of mine includes interviews with some of the characters, which is a good idea too.

Debbie Young: Which part of the book promotion process do you like least?

Carol Cooper: It eats into precious writing time (bet you’ve never heard that one before!).  I usually say I also dislike acting cold-calling or acting in any way like a salesperson as it’s far too brash, but the truth is that I’m not averse to stopping a woman I see in red heels, telling her that her shoes are just like the ones on the cover of my novel, and giving her a promotional postcard to prove it.  I think promoting a book is all about using and creating opportunities whenever you can, as long as it doesn’t feel icky.

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?

Carol Cooper: There are many activities that I haven’t perfected!   Next time I’d like a book launch.  As a traditionally published author, I never got book launches either.  Publishers tend to save their resources for books from big names – do I sound bitter?  Anyway I’ve seen the fun they can be, and of course you can post photos and blog and tweet about your launch, which all helps create a buzz.

Debbie Young: Is there anything else you’d like to share with readers now? e.g. news of your next book or event.

Carol Cooper: I’m working on the follow-up to One Night at the Jacaranda, which will also be set in London.  Then there’s the prequel crying out for attention too.  It will go back about 15 years, to when Geoff was a medical student.  I also have plans for a novel partly set in Alexandria, where I grew up, and it probably won’t be chick-lit.

Debbie Young: I’ll look forward to reading both of those, Carol. I never knew you grew up in Alexandria – how interesting! Thanks for sharing your favourite book marketing advice here today, and good luck with all of your many books.

Carol Cooper: Thank you so much, Debbie, for inviting me onto your blog to share my thoughts.  I’ve really enjoyed your questions.

Debbie Young: I’m sure you’ll want to find out more about Carol Cooper and her work – so here’s a link to her website again so you can hop straight over there: www.pillsandpillowtalk.com

FOR MORE TOP TIPS FOR SELF-PUBLISHED & INDIE AUTHORS:

Selling My Books: Samantha Warren’s Top Tip for Book Promotion

Every Writers’ Wednesday, a successful self-published author shares his or her favourite book promotion tip here.

Headshot of author Samantha Warren

Samantha Warren

I met Samantha Warren, who writes vampire novels, through the Alliance of Independent Authors. When I heard Samantha use the phrase “passive promotion” to describe her top book promotion tip, I couldn’t wait to ask her more about it. (I also loved her phrase “Spammy McSpamface”!) Thank you, Samantha, for sharing your top tip here today, via the usual questions. 

Debbie Young: What’s your favourite book promotion tip?

Samantha Warren: My favorite way to promote books is through what I like to call Passive Promotion.

Debbie Young: How do you do it?

Samantha Warren: Passive promotion is pretty simple, but it’s also very hard and takes awhile to work. It’s as easy as talking to people. Hop on Twitter, Facebook, what-have-you, and get sociable. Join groups, find new friends, and talk to them. Not just about your books, but about your life, their life, everything. The goal is to be real and to connect with each reader, one at a time, personally, before you even try to sell them your book. They get to know you, they get to like you, and then they become one of your biggest fans. As Neil Gaiman says about writing, it’s as simple as that. And as hard. Another quote (paraphrased) that I like is from Chuck Wendig. You don’t “find” your readers. You EARN them.

Cover of Vampire Assassin by Samantha Warren

The first of 10 books in Samantha Warren’s vampire series

Debbie Young: Why do you particularly enjoy this activity?

Samantha Warren: Passive promotion takes a long time to work, but in the end, it’s worth it. You find your true fans, those who will buy any book you write, even if it’s not in a genre they normally read. They’re the ones all the writers who say “Find your 1000 true fans” are talking about. It’s these people, the ones you connect with on a deeper level. Those are the ones you want. Not only do they become readers, but they become friends. Who could ask for more than that?

Debbie Young: Which book(s) have you used it for and when?

Samantha Warren: I’ve employed this method since the beginning of my journey for the most part. I used to be Spammy McSpamface, and that kind of sucked because I hate self-promoting. But while Passive Promotion is difficult and takes a long time to work, I learned that it seems to work better than any of those ads I wasted money on, and it’s the only fool-proof way to sell books.

Debbie Young: If you were doing it again for another book tomorrow, would you do it any differently?

Samantha Warren: Nope. It can pretty much only be done one way. Be you, be true. The more I do it, the more I realize who my core readers are, and I can see that core group growing. And it’s awesome to know it wasn’t from money spent. I didn’t have to buy their loyalty. It’s because we interacted and became friends, and that’s just the bees knees.

Debbie Young: Which part of the book promotion process do you like least?

Samantha Warren: I hate that I spend so much time and money on ads and blog tours and stuff when I’d much rather be writing. But like everyone, I want to find that one trick that will make me a bajillionaire. Silly me, I know that’s not true and that it doesn’t really work like that, but still, I keep trying and hoping and being disappointed. So I should really just stick to passive promotion. 🙂

Cover of Bloodshed by Samantha Warren

The 10th in the series (wow!)

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?

Samantha Warren: Everyone I talk to says Bookbub is the big trick, but I have yet to get a book accepted despite meeting all the requirements. I have a feeling that no matter how much I try and how much I spend, though, it won’t live up to the hype once it happens. 😉

Debbie Young: Is there anything else you’d like to share with readers now? e.g. news of your next book or event.

Samantha Warren: I just released the 10th and final book in my vampire novella series on April 10th. Jane started with Vampire Assassin which is free on all formats.

To find out more about Samantha Warren and her books, please hop over to her website: www.samantha-warren.com.

FOR MORE TIPS FOR SELF-PUBLISHED & INDIE AUTHORS:

Selling My Books: Edward Hancox’s Top Tip for Book Promotion

Every Writers’ Wednesday, a successful self-published author shares his or her favourite book promotion tip here.

Ed Hancox speaking in Foyles Bookshop at the SilverWood Open Day

Edward Hancox speaking at SilverWood Books’ Open Day at Foyles, Bristol

I met Edward Hancox via SilverWood Books‘ Open Day at Foyles bookshop in Bristol in January, where he gave an excellent talk about how he crowdfunded the production of his first self-published book, Iceland Defrosted, a bestselling travelogue about his passion for that country and all things Icelandic. I’d read and enjoyed his book when it was first published, and had never met Ed in person before. Even so, I could tell straight away that he was a personable chap and very much at home in Foyles. So it was no surprise that his top tip for book promotion involves relationship building in bookshops. Over to you, Ed, and thank you for sharing your experience and wisdom with us all.

Debbie Young: What’s your favourite book promotion tip? It doesn’t need to be the one that sells the most books – it could be the one you enjoy most.

Edward Hancox: Book shops. Don’t forget bookshops, and especially independent ones. The big chains might not even talk to you (or worse, one actually lied to me!), but I’ve found independent bookstores to be very supportive. My local one – Wenlock Books – has sold over 70 copies of my book. A book shop in central Reykjavík stocks my little book. I’m also stocked in cafés (can’t beat coffee and a good book) and a record shop. The high street isn’t dead – if you support retailers, you’ll be surprised how much they support you.

Debbie Young: How do you do it? Please give brief instructions!

Ed's books on a bookshop shelf

Iceland Defrosted on a bookshop shelf

Edward Hancox: Easy. Go in and say ‘Hello’. Be polite. Buy something. Ask for an email address. Get in touch. Always offer sale or return. Keep in contact. Watch the magic happen

Debbie Young: Why do you particularly enjoy this activity?

Edward Hancox: I enjoy book shops, record shops and drinking good coffee. This is a great excuse to indulge in all three! I also get a huge kick out of seeing my book for sale, as an actual book, from a real shelf, in a physical location. Something that ebooks will never be able to compete with.

Debbie Young: Which book(s) have you used it for and when?

Edward Hancox: My debut book, Iceland, Defrosted is stocked in 10 shops now, and is doing very well. The support of independent shops has meant a huge deal to me.

Debbie Young: If you were doing it again for another book tomorrow, would you do it any differently?

Edward Hancox: No, I don’t think so. I have the contacts and  confidence now, which would make it much easier.

How about this title for an icebreaker in bookshops?

How about this title for an icebreaker in bookshops?

Debbie Young: Which part of the book promotion process do you like least?

Edward Hancox: Reviews. Urgh. I hate them. I have  tens of wonderful reviews on Amazon for my book, but a single cutting, malicious review can wound me for days. I need to grow a thicker skin.

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?

Edward Hancox: Vine. It’s like Twitter but with 6 second videos. I’ve tried it, but not mastered it. I think it has huge scope and potential – I need to sit down and figure it out.

Debbie Young: Is there anything else you’d like to share with readers now? e.g. news of your next book or event.

Ed's name on an event poster

Ed shares the billing with an Icelandic pop singer

Edward Hancox: I’m giving a reading at Left for Dead in Birmingham – the record shop I mentioned – on the 10th May. It’s worth mentioning, because I’m appearing with a singer/songwriter from Iceland who I admire hugely. She’s called Hafdís Huld and appears in my book, so the whole thing has a nice symmetry to it!

Debbie Young: That sounds very exciting, Ed. Have fun – and make sure you get a photo of her holding your book for publicity purposes! (I bet you’re going to give her a free signed copy…)

Find out more about Edward Hancox and his bestselling book on his website: www.icelanddefrosted.com.

FOR MORE TIPS FOR SELF-PUBLISHED & INDIE AUTHORS:

How to Sell More Books: Hold More Meetings in Coffee Shops

cup of coffee

With so much happening online, it’s all too easy to forget the marketing value of meeting fellow writers and potential readers face-to-face. Sharing a cup of coffee may not be very high tech, but it’s a great way of networking with new friends.

After meeting Scottish novelist Ali Bacon via mutual friends on Twitter, enjoying her novel A Kettle of Fish on my summer holiday in Scotland, and realising we live geographically just a few miles apart, it seemed crazy not to meet up in real life.

And so I arranged to meet her or coffee in nearby Chipping Sodbury, feeling vaguely guilty for taking time out, deserting my desk.

The hour we spent chatting has been so fruitful, leading to other mutually beneficial friendships and further opportunities to promote our books, such as guesting on each other’s blogs.

My post for Ali’s Between the Lines blog has gone live today, and she will be visiting Off The Shelf tomorrow, so do come back here to find out more about her then.

But in the meantime, I hope you’ll want to hop over to Between the Lines and read my guest post for her, in which I reveal my circuitous route to becoming a writer of fiction:

Non-Fiction as The Novelist’s Apprenticeship – hosted by Ali Bacon at Between the Lines