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

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Selling My Books: Anna Belfrage’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

Head shot of Anna Belfrage

The novelist Anna Belfrage

I first met the Swedish novelist Anna Belfrage via her publisher SilverWood Books. She’s a vibrant, prolific author, fun to be with and full of energy, as you’ll guess from her interview below. She homes in on her excellent blog and blog tours as her favourite way of promoting her historical time-slip novels.

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.

Anna Belfrage: I must come quite clean and admit that the promotional part is the one I find most difficult. I am never sure there is a correlation between being active on FB, Twitter and blogs and any sale of books.

The activity I enjoy the most is to maintain my own blog: www.annabelfrage.wordpress.com (I rather enjoy being able to share my ramblings about everything from history to the universe with people) but from a promotional perspective I believe that being hosted by book-review blogs is one of the more efficient ways of getting your name – and book – out there. Accordingly, I am a big fan of virtual book tours.

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

Anna Belfrage: Since some years back, I had been following the tours arranged by Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours, and once I’d worked up the nerve, I approached Ms Bruno who runs this service and asked her to arrange a tour for the second book in The Graham Saga, Like Chaff in the Wind. My role was restricted to writing guest-posts and replying to various interview questions, and I found this to be a perfect balance between what I CAN do (write) and what I need someone else to handle (the actual organising of the tour, contacts with various blogs, etc)

Debbie Young: Why do you particularly enjoy this activity?

Anna Belfrage: Enjoy and enjoy… It’s actually quite nerve-racking, as I never know beforehand if the reviews are going to be good or not. As a fellow writer, I am sure you understand the review-angst, right? Once the tour is in full swing – and especially if the reviews are favourable – the tour gives me opportunities to tweet and share reviews, posts and interviews, thereby increasing exposure.

Debbie Young: With my next book about to come out this weekend, Anna, I know exactly what you mean there about nerves! Which book(s) have you used it for and when?

Cover of Like Chaff in the Wind

Book 2 in the Graham Saga

Anna Belfrage: I’ve used it for books 2, 3, 4 and 5 of The Graham Saga, and will continue using it for any future book I publish.

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

Anna Belfrage: I am doing it for the next book, Revenge and Retribution – in August. But this time, I’m combining it with a Book Blast that showcases the entire Graham Saga. A Book Blast is a promotional activity where you have bloggers highlighting your book(s), in some cases with give-aways, in others just by posting the cover and the blurb. It increases visibility of your book(s).

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

Anna Belfrage: I find the self-advertisement part very difficult. “Yoohoo, lookie, lookie here – I’m Anna and I’ve written a BOOK. Please buy it and like it.” 

This is to some extent due to my Swedish background – in Sweden one does NOT toot one’s own horn – but also because I find it very difficult to consider my books THAT important in the overall context of things.

So yes, I write good books, I write entertaining reads, I write historically well-researched novels that are set in the 17th century and have a wonderful protagonist couple. He’s a die-hard Scottish Presbyterian, she’s a time traveller, and they should never have met, what with her being born three centuries after him. But fate had other ideas, and so here they are, incapable of considering life without each other.

There is plenty of action, plenty of romance, quite a lot of steamy bits, but seriously, will my books make the world a better place? Bring about world peace? Nope – and that makes me somewhat embarrassed to drown the internet with tweets and postings about my marvellous books.

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?

Anna Belfrage: I am rather curious about book trailers. I’m not sure who watches these trailers except for other authors, but some are definitely very titillating and hook my interest completely. I think that if one has a good trailer, it can heighten awareness re the book.

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

Cover of Revenge and Retribution

Book 6 in the Graham Saga

Anna Belfrage: Well, as I mentioned above, the sixth book in The Graham Saga, Revenge and Retribution, is imminent – it will be released on July 1st. If you’re into a book that covers betrayal, death, retribution, love, abduction and time travelling, it may be just up your street. I am personally very attached to this instalment of The Graham Saga – to my husband’s amusement I cry abundantly every time I read it, and he will gently point out that I’ve written it and read it like a hundred times, so I shouldn’t be all that surprised at all the heart-wrenching stuff that happens, should I? Stupid man…

Also, this time round I’m going to try something entirely new regarding promotion. I have decided to use a PR firm to help me plan a short campaign around the book, and I am quite curious as to what the fall-out will be. I am fortunate in that the earlier books of the series are earning enough to finance this marketing gamble, so please keep your fingers crossed. And if you want, I can drop by in some months’ time and share my conclusions with you!

Debbie Young: I’d love that, Anna – just tip me the wink when you’re ready to share! And thanks so much for taking part today. Lots of luck with the new book!

Anna Belfrage is the author of five published books, all part of The Graham Saga. Set in the 17th century, the books tell the story of Matthew Graham and his time-travelling wife, Alex Lind. Anna can be found on Aamazon, Facebook and on her website.

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Selling My Books: Peter St John’s Top Tip for Book Promotion

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

Peter St John's headshot

Introducing Peter St John, author of the Gang series of novels

I was introduced to English novelist Peter St John by Helen Hart at SilverWood Books and I had the pleasure of meeting him at SilverWood’s super Open Day event in January at the Bristol branch of Foyles.

A couple of weeks previously, I’d enjoyed reading Gang Loyalty, one of his charming novels about a young boy evacuated to the English countryside during the Second World War. His book chimed particularly with me because my own father was also an evacuee who had told me tales of his own war-time experiences.

Peter has taken an original approach to the standard questions on this weekly spot, involving one of the characters from the “Gang” series of books, Jenno Bryce, who has her own special presence on Facebook and Twitter to fly the flag for Peter’s books.

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.

Peter St John: My Public Relations Officer, Jenno Bryce, is a feisty lass from my “Gang” series of novels who is not afraid to speak her mind. Unlike me, she has an outgoing, devil-may-care attitude, useful for making contacts. The main problem is that we do not always see eye to eye on matters concerning ethics and tact. She also has her own idiosyncratic ideas about what constitutes correct English grammar and spelling, but to keep the peace I have learned not to criticize. After all, if it weren’t for her, where would I be with my promotional activities?

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

Cartoon of Jenno

..and meet Jenno, his PR Assistant!

Peter St John: In fact Jenno does most of it. I simply draw attention to various themes that might be of interest to potential readers. Jenno is good at thinking up aphorisms on these themes. She usually suggests a drawing to go with them, but leaves me to create the pictures which I do using Microsoft Paint.

She sometimes grumbles about the quality, but as I accept her grammar, she has to accept my drawings. I haven’t yet had any (well, not much) adverse feedback from the great internet public on all this, but that’s because most people are kind and tolerant.

The results of our joint efforts on text and pictures are posted daily, in various forms, on Facebook, and Twitter. Some finish up at irregular intervals on Jenno’s blog, and some even become illustrations in the “Gang” series of books.

Debbie Young: Why do you particularly enjoy this activity?

Peter St John: Apart from disputes between Jenno and myself, which are usually lighthearted and never (well hardly ever) acrimonious, the activity is enjoyable. It brings pleasurable contact and interchange with many people across the world. Jenno huffs and puffs sometimes when she thinks she’s not getting enough of the limelight, but that’s not to be taken too seriously for she has an optimistic outlook most of the time. She doesn’t bear grudges.

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

Peter St John: Jenno and I have worked at this on a daily basis for almost three years, and have produced nearly a thousand illustrated “Jennoisms”. Some are directly linked to the six novels in the “Gang” series, others have an indirect connection in that they sometimes portray one or other of the characters which appear in the novels.

On four occasions, Jenno has brought together some of her illustrated aphorisms to publish them on Smashwords as an e-book. These collections include a few references to the “Gang” books. They could thus be considered a form of “soft” publicity. On the other hand, the four books can be downloaded free of charge. These, with a picture on every page, are:

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

Peter St John: There have been a few difficulties associated with employing a character from my “Gang” books as my Public Relations Officer. This is chiefly because Jenno necessarily remains confined to the time frame and context of her World War II village of Widdlington.

Even so, now that Jenno and I have got used to working together and have achieved some small measure of success in attracting followers and fans, I would not really want to do what we do any differently.

All six “Gang” books are available in Amazon Kindle format. This is in no small part due to Jenno’s cheeky optimism.

Each of the Kindle “Gang” books is illustrated.Four of the six books, have now been published in paperback by SilverWood Books. Three of them are illustrated with around sixty drawings each. A fifth, “Gang Warfare”, is due soon.

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

Cartoon of girl holding up sign saying "I'll like you if you like me"

One of Peter’s pet hates

Peter St John: What I like least is the clamorous jostling competition for statistical signs of “success” in terms of number of “followers”, number of five-star reviews, position in Amazon “rankings”, sales figures, and so on. These have little to do with the craft of writing. This is often coupled with requests for “likes” and/or shares.

I find the syndrome of:” If you like me, then I’ll like you,” disturbing. If I like somebody’s work, I’ll say so without prompting. If I don’t like it, I’ll say nothing.

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?

Peter St John: I find very appealing the idea of talking to young people about our rich English language, and arousing enthusiasm for using it to express ideas, emotions and images. As I live in a French-speaking part of the world, it is not easy to put this idea into practice.

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

Peter St John: All the books in the “Gang” series have been published in paperback, but the original publisher of the first three has gone out of business, so two of them are out of print. This situation is being remedied by SilverWood Books with new and illustrated editions.

The latest, Gang Spies, was launched early in March with a book trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-sOdqudc5-Y. I am also pleased to announce that another, Gang Warfare, is in course of preparation and should be ready for launch in the early summer.

This I hope will be followed before long by “Gang Rivaly” to complete the current series. A description of the series may be found on the website: http://www.peterstjohn.net/index.htm.

Girl bashing over the head with her banner a boy holding up a banner saying he dislikes her

That’ll teach her!

Meanwhile, a plot outline has been prepared for a brand new seventh book in the series. A tentative title is Gang America. The intention is to describe the dramatic impact, on Jenno’s English village of Widdlington, of the coming of the United States Army Air Force at the end of 1942.

Thank you, Debbie, for inviting me to be a guest on your blog.

Debbie Young: It’s been an absolute pleasure, Peter, and I’m looking forward to reading more of your books. Goodness knows what Jenno will make of the American visitors!

Peter St John was born in London, at a time when worthless shares, and workless men littered the streets. His baptismal gift from two of the apostles was hard to live with in a Church-run orphanage destroyed in 1940 by Hitler’s blitz. He was evacuated from the ruins to the countryside, where the Nazi aim again missed by a hair’s breadth.“Grammar” school was “Granpa” school: young men at battle replaced by oldies… and bright young women.

As an eager Air Force pilot, Peter navigated the winds, envied the birds, and learned the “arts” of war.Back in Civvy street, Peter discovered marriage, fatherhood and Australia. He studied engineering and put letters after his name. Aimed for the moon at Woomera, but hit the rusty desert instead. It’s bloody hot, mate, in the sun; bloody cold at night. It’s bloody deadly too at times, but strewth, so bloody lovely.

Came Sputnik, and the Cold War space-race. Peter rocketed to lend a hand in Europe, and discovered Paris, languages, and ELDO*. An office on three continents; one in sweltering French Guyana. Who’d volunteer for Devils Island except to rocket into space? But Europe’s leap to orbit was crippled by political irresolution.** So back he went to Australia where Peter now daily took “the liberty boat from shore” to reach the Navy’s concrete HQ “ship” in Canberra. But the bold project for which he strove never saw the sea. His ship was again scuttled by politics.

Disgruntled and unemployed, Peter set off for Parliament House, where miraculously he was offered a job helping Senators peer critically over Government’s shoulder, and bring Parliament’s Standing Committees to the people. Heady stuff. And then the PM asked him to join his staff! But soon the Inter-Parliamentary Union in Geneva called, requesting participation in strengthening parliamentary democracy around the world. Six challenging years for Peter…

And so to fiction, with his first novel published in 2007. This has been followed by seven more. Peter lives in France where he is president of a cultural association active in the promotion of creative activities. He has a son, two grandsons, a great-grandson and a great-granddaughter.

* The long-defunct European Launcher Development Organisation.
**Subsequently re-activated as the European Space Agency with the highly successful “Ariane” project.

Find out more about Peter St John on his website www.peterstjohn.net and more about Jenno via her blog www.jennospot.blogspot.com


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Selling My Books: Helen Hollick’s Top Tip for Book Promotion

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

Helen Hollick and Debbie Young at the launch of Sell Your Books!

I was thrilled that Helen Hollick was able to fit the launch party for “Sell Your Books!” into her busy schedule

I might have known that historical novelist Helen Hollick would be one of the first to volunteer to share her top tips on book marketing. Helen is one of the most generous authors I’ve ever met. So many aspiring self-published authors have benefited from her guidance and encouragement over the years, not only from reading her excellent writing guide, Discovering the Diamond, co-authored with her editor Jo Field, but also from her personal enthusiasm and kindness.

With a string of books to her name in both historical fiction and historical fantasy, and lively blogs to maintain, she is also the Managing Editor of the Historical Novel Society’s UK Indie Reviews section – another way of encouraging new talent. She’s looking for new reviewers, by the way, so do leave a comment if you’d like to find out more – I’ve just signed up myself! 

Thank you, Helen, 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

Helen Hollick: Don’t promote your book! Promote yourself as a person – people will be interested in you, and will then become interested in what you do i.e. write books!

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

Helen Hollick: I post on Facebook every day. On my Author page I share articles and items of interest by other authors, using the page as a writers and readers information page. I try to keep my personal page for ‘me’ things – although I never put anything over-personal (social networks are public places, if you don’t want people knowing your business, don’t post it on a social network page!) I also have several active – and diverse – blogs.

Debbie Young: Why do you particularly enjoy this activity?

Helen Hollick giving a talk

Helen Hollick loves connecting with people in person, as well as online

Helen Hollick: I like communicating with people. Writing can be a very solitary occupation, it is nice to know there are people out there who enjoy reading what I’ve written. One of the perks of being an author is making so many lovely Internet friends from all around the world.

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

Helen Hollick: All of my books – I am currently working on my tenth novel, the fifth Sea Witch Voyage, On The Account. I’ve used social media for a long time now, starting with MySpace, then moving, primarily, to Facebook and Twitter.

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

Helen Hollick: Probably not!

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

Helen Hollick: It takes up such a lot of time

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?

Helen Hollick: I’d like to get to grips with Goodreads a bit more, I’m not really sure how it works.

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

Helen Hollick: I would like readers to visit my main blog: ‘Let us Talk of Many Things; of Books and Queens and Pirates, of History and Kings…’ (http://ofhistoryandkings.blogspot.co.uk/) not especially because it is my blog, but because I have many interesting articles and posts contributed by a variety of guests. It is my way of helping to promote other wonderful writers!

Debbie Young: Thank you, Helen, it’s been lovely to talk to you here. And for anyone who hasn’t got round yet to reading one of Helen’s fabulous stories, here’s my review of my favourite: Sea Witch – a rollicking pirate adventure with a touch of magic and humour.

Helen Hollick's Facebook header pic

Here are other ways of connecting with Helen Hollick:

Sunset photo

LIKE TO SHARE YOUR TOP BOOK MARKETING TIP?

  • If you’re a self-published author and would like to share YOUR top tip for book promotion in the Off The Shelf guest slot, please message me via the contact form with a summary of the tip that you’d like to write about, and we’ll take it from there.
  • And if you run a regular guest slot on YOUR blog with a specific theme, please feel free to post a link in the comments section so we can all hop over to have a look at it!

?CALLING SELF-PUBLISHED AUTHORS!
If you’re self-published author, or are thinking of self-publishing, join me at the Alliance of Independent Authors (ALLi) – a great source of education, inspiration and networking opportunities. To find out more, click here.

Cover of Sell Your Books!SELL YOUR BOOKS!

If you don’t yet have a copy of my book promotion handbook, written especially for self-published and indie authors but equally useful to trade-published authors too, hop over to its profile page on this website to find out more about it. And if you’ve read it and enjoyed it, please consider leaving a brief review on Amazon, Goodreads, your own website, or anywhere else that will help me to help more authors. Thank you.

Selling My Books: Francis Guenette’s Top Tip for Book Promotion

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

Francis Guenette

Meet Canadian author Francis Guenette

I’m delighted to welcome Canadian author Francis Guenette for the first in a series of conversations with self-published authors talking about the best way to sell more books.  Fran is the author of two excellent novels (read my reviews on my author blog here). Living and writing in the vast, sparsely populated countryside of British Columbia brings its own marketing challenges, and I really admire how Fran has capitalised on local opportunities to get books into bricks-and-mortar stores. 

Debbie Young: What is your all-time favourite top tip for book promotion? This needn’t be the one that has sold the most books – it might equally be one that you enjoy doing so much that it keeps you motivated for the rest of the book marketing grind!

Francis Guenette: Developing contacts in the local marketplace that have resulted in venues where I can sell ‘real’ books.

In-store display of her books

Francis Guenette’s books in store

Debbie Young: How did you do it?

Francis Guenette: It was easier than I thought it would be. When I considered self-publishing, I read a lot about how difficult it would be to get my books into bricks-and-mortar bookstores. I would say that is true. But on the local scene, there are so many other non-traditional places to sell books. My best results have come from grocery stores and even more specifically, grocery stores in tourist locations like campsites, fishing camps, and lodges. Between these two types of stores, I have managed to tap into both the local and the tourist market.

Satisfied customer in store

Getting the books into readers’ hands…

How have I done this? I am indebted to my husband who is the type of guy who has no problem walking into a store with the books in hand, asking to speak to the manager and coming out the door with a sales agreement. We are also at an advantage in having lived in this area for over thirty years – the people who aren’t familiar with my name certainly know my husband. I suppose, to one degree or another, I have the curiosity factor going – people want to know what the heck I might write about.

The local newspaper has also been instrumental in promoting me. Again, this involved a personal appearance at the office with review copies of my books in hand and a quick chat with the editor. Emails and phone calls don’t seem to garner the right tone in the local marketplace.

Debbie Young: Why do you particularly enjoy this activity?

Another in-store display with customer

… and off the shelf!

Francis Guenette: While I go about the slow uphill slog of establishing a presence on various social media platforms, to increase visibility for e-sales, local sales are helping me get out of the red. But it’s more than that. When local people tell me how much they love my books, it’s a vote of confidence in the authenticity of my writing voice. These people live in the communities I draw on for fictional inspiration and they can sniff out an overly sentimental or phony depiction of their own backyard.

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

Francis Guenette: Trade paperback copies of both Disappearing in Plain Sight and The Light Never Lies are available for sale on the racks of a number of local stores.

Debbie Young: If you were doing the same again for another book tomorrow, is there anything you’d do differently?

Francis Guenette: I don’t think I’d do anything differently, but I certainly plan to expand what we have already done over a larger geographical area. A three hour drive down the road would take my books into a much bigger marketplace with a host of non-traditional book selling venues to choose from. My name wouldn’t be as easily recognized but the rural setting of my books would still resonate and the whole of Vancouver Island is pretty good about standing behind local talent.

Cover of Disappearing in Plain Sight

Francis Guenette’s debut novel

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

Francis Guenette: The grind of social media is a most time-consuming process. It is also an area where it is very difficult to relate time spent on specific activities to books sold. An author has to go on faith most of the time and that is not so enjoyable.

Debbie Young: Can you name one promotional activity that you’ve not yet tried (or tried but not perfected) that you plan to try in future?

Francis Guenette: I’m thinking about an interview on the local radio station. They’re pretty low-key and I imagine they might be open to squeezing me in-between The Birthday Book and the tide table information.

Debbie Young: Anything else you’d like to share with Off The Shelf readers just now?

Francis Guenette: I live in a rural area and lest readers imagine that local markets are not possible in larger centres, I would argue that even within a city, there are always smaller neighbourhoods and non-traditional venues for selling books. Don’t brush off the idea of acting as your own vendor to sell ‘real’ books.

My appearance on Off the Shelf is part of a blog tour to promote the release of my second novel, The Light Never Lies. There are prizes attached to this tour – two softcover copies of The Light Never Lies mailed to the lucky winners. One copy is for the blog host who garners the most engagement on their post featuring yours truly, and one for a commenter – name to be randomly drawn from all commenters across the tour. I hope readers will like and comment on this post (scroll down to the foot of the page for the comment box) and give Deb a chance for a win as well as following along with the tour and commenting often for multiple chances to win. The entire blog tour schedule is available on my blog here: The Light Never Lies blog tour 

Cover of The Light Never Lies by Francis Guenette

The sequel

Francis Guenette’s Author Bio
Francis Guenette has spent most of her life on the west coast of British Columbia. She lives with her husband and finds inspiration for writing in the beauty and drama of their lakeshore cabin and garden. She has a graduate degree in Counselling Psychology from the University of Victoria, British Columbia, Canada. She has worked as an educator, trauma counsellor and researcher. The Light Never Lies is her second novel. Francis blogs over at www.disappearinginplainsight.com and maintains a Facebook author page. Please stop by and say hello to her.

LIKE TO SHARE YOUR TOP BOOK MARKETING TIP?

  • If you’re a self-published author and would like to share YOUR top tip for book promotion in the Off The Shelf guest slot, please message me via the contact form with a summary of the tip that you’d like to write about, and we’ll take it from there.
  • And if you run a regular guest slot on YOUR blog with a specific theme, please feel free to post a link in the comments section so we can all hop over to have a look at it!

?CALLING SELF-PUBLISHED AUTHORS!
If you’re self-published author, or are thinking of self-publishing, join me at the Alliance of Independent Authors (ALLi) – a great source of education, inspiration and networking opportunities. To find out more, click here.

“Selling My Books”: The New Guest Slot for Self-publishing Authors

My favourite book promotion tip of the moment is to write guest posts on other authors’ blogs, especially when a specific theme is called for.

Writing posts on other people’s blogs may not immediately help indie authors sell more books, but it will:

  • raise your profile as an author
  • build name recognition
  • open up valuable new networking opportunities

Guest posts also give you the opportunity to place more inbound links back to your own website, encouraging search engines to give your site higher priority.

But it’s not just the guest who benefits:

  • Blog hosts gain new, fresh copy to supplement their own posts
  • They also gain new followers and friends that the guest blogger brings with them to the site via social media sharing of their guest post.

Here are three examples of themed guest post strands on very different websites. All are beautifully presented and branded, each readily identifiable at a glance.

Lindsay Stanberry Flynn’s “Why I Write” Series

Cover of The Piano Player's Son by Linsday Stanberry-FlynnNovelist Lindsay Stanberry-Flynn has just completed an eight-part series of guest posts under the banner “Why I Write”, spanning the first two months of 2014.

Lindsay is a gifted writer and writing coach whom I met online some time ago. A friendship formed across the ether in which we shared advice, moral support and humour, and we also often hook up via the Alliance of Independent Authors (ALLi), to which we both belong, and whose blog of self-publishing advice I edit.  Our online connection leapt off the screen and into real life when last autumn Lindsay kindly invited me to the official launch of her second novel, The Piano Player’s Son, published by Cinnamon Press (Lindsay won her contract as a prize in their novel-writing competition!)

Lindsay specialises in novels about families in turmoil, following familial disharmony. Given my propensity to favour Pollyanna scenarios with happy endings, they’re not the kind of book I’d normally plump for, but I found both this book and her debut novel, Unravelling, gripping and fulfilling reading.

And her book launch was a joy, interspersing readings with live music and performance poetry, in a striking old hall in the centre of Worcester. On this memorable night, a cabaret of entertainment played to a packed house, whose audience snapped up copies of both of Lindsay’s books from the sales table as they left. I’ve reviewed both of Lindsay’s books on Amazon and Goodreads, where you’ll find them for sale as ebooks and paperbacks.

When novelist Lindsay Stanberry-Flynn invited me to be a guest on her blog in her new series called “Why I Write”, I jumped at the chance. You can read my guest post here:

“Why I Write”~7 – Debbie Young

The Alliterative Allomorph with Jessica Bell

Cover of String Bridge by Jessica Bell

One of Jessica’s many published works

Another  regular guest blog feature that I enjoy is Jessica Bell’s, gloriously titled! I met Jessica via the Alliance of Independent Authors (ALLi), to which we both belong, and we’ve become good friends, though not yet met in person. I’m excited to be joining her Homeric Writers’ Retreat on the idyllic Greek island of Ithaca in August –  find out more about that here: www.homericwriters.com.

I’ve now featured twice on The Alliterative Allomorph, in which Jessica encourages her guests to sound off about whatever aspect of the writing life is currently on their mind.

Disparate authors follow each other, week after week, often with not much in common other than their passion for what they do, and the mix works well. You never quite know what’s coming next – just that it’ll be a stimulating read. Here’s an example of one of my guest posts on Jessica’s blog:

Why I Used To Feel Sorry for Tolstoy – and Why I’m Over It Now

The Undercover Soundtrack with Roz Morris

Cover of Roz Morris's novelOne of the great benefits of having a regular guest post series on your blog is that readers who stop by to read one may find themselves hooked and make a regular date with your blog to see who writes what next. This certainly happens for Roz Morris (another ALLi chum) with her now legendary blog slot, The Undercover Soundtrack.

The Undercover Soundtrack is the author’s answer to that long-running BBC radio series, Desert Island Discs (which I adore). This blog slot gives authors the opportunity to share thoughts about the music that inspires and informs their work. I’m sure it must encourage readers to discover and explore new writers, as well as to read Roz’s own novel on a musical theme, My Memories of a Future Life.

Strange – and pleasingly neat – how all three of the authors’ novels shown here share a musical connection! Jessica’s isn’t clear from the cover, so I should point out that String Bridge is about a guitarist and comes with its own soundtrack, written and performed by the author, who is also a talented musician. Wow!

My New Weekly Guest Slot

For the reasons I’ve outlined above, I’m pleased now to be launching a regular guest slot here on Off The Shelf. It will be called “Selling My Books: (Author’s Name)’s Top Tip for Book Promotion” and it will appear every Wednesday. Kicking it off next Wednesday (19th March 20014) will be the Canadian author Francis Guenette, whose two novels Disappearing in Plain Sight and Finding the Light just blew me away. I first came across Fran via Twitter and was really pleased when she joined ALLi, opening up more opportunities for us to network to our mutual benefit.

After Fran’s post, I’ve got a substantial list of guests lined up. If you’re a self-published author and would like to share YOUR top tip for book promotion, please message me via the contact form with a summary of the tip that you’d like to write about, and we’ll take it from there.

And if you run a regular guest slot on YOUR blog with a specific theme, please feel free to post a link in the comments section so we can all hop over to have a look at it!

If you’re a writer and you’re not yet a member of the Alliance of Independent Authors (ALLi), the nonprofit organisation for professional self-published authors, check it out – the ease it offers of making great author friends is just one of many benefits of membership. Aspiring authors are welcome to join, as well as those who have already self-published books! To find out more, please use this handy link to the ALLi website so they’ll know I’ve sent you!