Selling My Books: Paul Connolly’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

Headshot of Paul Connolly

Novelist Paul Connolly. author of “The Fifth Voice”

I first met novelist Paul Connolly over dinner after a SilverWood Books Open Day and was very interested to learn about his debut novel as is publication date approached. Listening to Paul, I could tell he is a natural storyteller, and I’ve downloaded The Fifth Voice to read on my Kindle on holiday this summer. In the meantime, I’m delighted to welcome Paul here today to share his favourite way of promoting his new book. 

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.

Paul Connolly: Seek out opportunities to talk about your book, and target relevant special interest groups. Contact groups to whom your subject matter should be of interest. In my case, The Fifth Voice is set in the world of a cappella choral and quartet singing, and there are lots of relevant associations and groups you can say hello to and even write articles for.

Also, keep adding to your email list and reaching out to new people, as well as contacting book groups and independent bookshops. I don’t believe that social media has all the answers, and I think that Facebook and Twitter are wildly overrated in terms of their ability to deliver results for the average author. So much of it seems like whistling in the wind to me. I prefer the personal approach.

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

Paul Connolly: Wherever I go I’m armed with my book’s ‘elevator pitch’ in my head and a few calling cards in my back pocket (a tip here: create double-sided business cards, where one side is the front cover of your book, for maximum impact). Then, a couple of times a week I reach out via email or telephone to specific targets, be it named individuals, singing associations around the world, or indie bookshops.

Debbie Young: Why do you particularly enjoy this activity?

Cover of The Fifth Voice

Such a stunning cover

Paul Connolly: Once you get over the hurdle of thinking nobody will be interested in listening to yet another self-promoting author, you realise that there are people out there who are fascinated by your story, your journey as a writer, and are willing to give you their attention. The enjoyment comes from making connections person-by-person, group-by-group, hopefully building your readership steadily as you go.

You yourself (Debbie) said that marketing an indie book is a marathon not a sprint, and that’s a key lesson to take on board. You’re not shackled by the unrealistic and time-limited expectations of a royalty-hungry publisher who’ll drop you like a stone as soon as your title starts selling less than they would like. Just keep plugging away. With your e-book just a click away, and your paperback always available on demand, there’s no big hurry. Enjoy the ride, but keep working at it (no-one else will!)

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

Paul Connolly: The Fifth Voice is my first novel, so I can’t claim masses of experience! One thing I would say is that if you can afford to hire a publicist, even for a short time, it helps to build awareness early on, and I have had some success with local press and radio as a result. This then gives you some ‘marketing collateral’ that you can use when approaching bookshops, etc.

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

Paul Connolly in a suit

Paul Connolly getting into the zone for the National Barbership finals in Harrogate

Paul Connolly: As The Fifth Voice is my first novel, I’m finding out what works and what doesn’t as I go. I would definitely approach things in a similar way, but maybe with a few more tricks up my sleeve. While I don’t think you should rely on social media for your marketing, I’d be keen to squeeze as much juice out of those channels as possible in future. And I’d like to get my head around e-book promotional campaigns and adopt ‘industry best practice’ to maximise sales (if such exists).

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

Paul Connolly: Despite being comfortable appearing in public (I’m a singer, and have done many a business presentation in my time), the thought of sitting in a room signing copies of my book like some wannabe literary star makes me cringe slightly. Also, I feel that the traditional book launch is overrated and is often done because it’s seen as the thing to do rather than because it has major marketing impact.

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?

Paul Connolly: I’d really like to speak at a literary event of some sort, where I can talk about the book, the writing process, and share what (little) I know. That may sound like a contradiction to the previous answer, but it’s not really. I don’t mind talking about my book if it means that the book is the centre of attention; I’m far less comfortable with the cult of the author!

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

Paul Connolly: When this blog article appears, I’ll be on my way back from a 10-day holiday on my favourite little island. If all has gone to plan, I’ll have the synopsis for my next novel, a sequel to The Fifth Voice, well and truly mapped out. I already know the arc of the story, and the working title, and it’s great to be planning an answer to a question I’ve been asked many times since The Fifth Voice was published: when’s the next one?

Debbie Young: Enjoy your holiday, Paul, and best of luck with book two!

For more information about Paul Connolly, visit his author website here: www.paulconnollyauthor.com

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Selling My Books: Bobbie Coelho’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

Photo of Bobbie Coelho at book signing table

Getting ready to meet new readers

I first met the poet Bobbie Coelho at a SilverWood Books Open Day and was pleased to be invited to read and review her latest book, Reflecting the Light.

I was interested to learn that one of Bobbie’s reasons for publishing her poetry was to benefit the charity Parkinson’s UK, because she’d taken up poetry to help her come to terms with her own diagnosis of Parkinson’s Disease.

Bobbie’s poetry is very personal and touching, and her books look beautiful, with stunning cover photography of flowers exuding optimism and hope. I’m delighted to welcome Bobbie to the blog today to share her top tip for book promotion. 

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.

Bobbie Coelho: My favourite way of promoting my books has always been to talk about them to groups of people, to read some of them, and explain the thinking behind them. This is especially true now,since neither Waterstones or W H Smith will stock my book because they lose money on local authors.

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

Cover of Finding the Light by Bobbie CoelhoBobbie Coelho:  I gauge the audience and pick poems that I think they will like and a couple of challenging ones. I am very passionate about them. Most people have been impressed by the covers of my two books.

Debbie Young: Why do you particularly enjoy this activity?

Bobbie Coelho: I like meeting people and listening to their stories too. My books are different in that they are being published for charity, in this case, Parkinson’s UK. I particularly like speaking to non-Parkinson’s groups because I can promote understanding of the condition.

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

Bobbie Coelho: I really hate it when I ask if someone will consider putting a review on Amazon or the Silverwood site. They say yes, but don’t do it. If they don’t want to do it – be honest!

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?

Bobbie Coelho: I haven’t given books away yet as a promotional gesture, perhaps I will try that.

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 Reflecting the Light by Bobbie CoelhoBobbie Coelho: Reflecting the Light will be my last book. It has had mixed reviews, most people liking it. some not. Whatever, I am very proud of the book and I found it a good way to raise money for Parkinson’s. Some of my poems make you think and lots of people need to be reminded that it is always later than you think, so don’t put off telling the ones you love how much you care – and life is to be enjoyed.

Debbie Young: What a lovely positive note to end this interview – thank you very much, Bobbie.

For more information about Bobbie Coelho and her poetry, visit her page on the SilverWood Books online shop.Her books are available from SilverWood, Amazon and other online retailers.

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Selling My Books: Alison Morton’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

Headshot of Alison Morton

Alison Morton, thriller writer

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…

Array of three of her postcards

Alison’s promotional postcards – collect the set!

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 and Sue in armchairs discussing Successio

Sue Cook interviews Alison Morton about her latest novel, “Successio”

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.

For Successio, I launched in London just three weeks ago with the broadcaster Sue Cook interviewing me and followed up with a talk at the main Tunbridge Wells library.

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 talking to a group of readers, all seated, theatre-style

Alison Morton speaking at Tunbridge Wells public library

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.

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How to Boost Sales of a Series: Price the First One Low

Alison Morton with paperback copies of Inceptio

Today’s book marketing tip is inspired by a message I’ve just had from my novelist friend Alison Morton. She’s cutting the price of her first book in the run-up to the launch of its sequel. Now, I’m usually loathe to … Continue reading