Selling My Books: Fenella Miller’s Top Tips for Book Promotion

Cover of The Duke & the Vicar's Daughter

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 romantic novelist Fenella Miller through the Alliance of Independent Authors, of which we are both author members. … Continue reading

Selling My Books: Atulya Bingham’s Top Tip for Book Promotion

Photo of Atulya Bingham with her book

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 Atulya Bingham through the Alliance of Independent Authors, of which we’re both author members, and was impressed … Continue reading

Selling My Books: David Ebsworth’s Top Tip for Book Promotion

Head shot of David Ebsworth

Every week, for Writers’ Wednesday, a successful self-published author shares a favourite book promotion tip here on Debbie Young’s Off The Shelf Book Promotions blog I first met historical novelist David Ebsworth via our mutual publisher, SilverWood Books, and soon realised this British indie author, … Continue reading

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: 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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