Enter a Great Writing Competition! (Deadline 11 March)

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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: 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: