I’ve just spent the better part of five days getting ready for a book release.
Actually, as you can see, it’s four books, and they’re being re-released. One of them, my debut novel, a tongue-in–cheek spy story called Skywatcher, has been out of print since 1989.
The others are The Cilla Rose Affair – Skywatcher’s sequel, same characters, new adventure – Mission: Impossible meets The Man from UNCLE; Cold Play – a standalone thriller set on a cruise ship in Alaska; and Persistence of Memory, the first in my Memory Books series about accidental time traveller Charlie Duran and her companion Shaun Deeley.
Persistence of Memory, as you may know, was published by Fable Press in 2013. Unfortunately Fable went out of business earlier this year, but the good news is, Diversion Books in New York agreed to republish it, along with my three other backlist titles, and the next book in the Memory Books series, In Loving Memory, which is set in 1940 London.
So, on Tuesday July 7, all four of my novels are being released by Diversion as ebooks, with brand new covers, and then in about a month’s time, the paperbacks will follow.
One of the terms of my contract is that I’ll make a “reasonable attempt” to help promote my books – or words to that effect. I know Diversion’s going to do a great job at their end… but if I learned anything from Cold Play and Persistence of Memory, it’s how to tackle the business of self-promotion.
So, over the past five days, I have done many fine things.
I’ve sent press releases to a lot of media outlets announcing the rebirth of my books. I’ve focused on the areas where I have lived and where I currently live. Plus I included Toronto because that’s what you do in Canada. You always include Toronto.
Here is where people who live in small towns have a distinct advantage. You get much more attention when you’re a local author in a community of 32,000 than you do when you’re a local author in a metropolitan area of 2 million. Still, all of the city editors at all of the newspapers in Greater Vancouver, Moose Jaw, Regina, Winnipeg and Toronto have now heard from me. My press release may be sitting at the bottom of their slush pile, but at least I can say I tried.
I’ve also approached bloggers I know who do cover reveals. I’ve sent out so many requests my eyes have gone buggy. I’ve had one positive response so far, and I love this woman to death. She remembered me from last time, when I was promoting Persistence of Memory. She’s agreed to do a cover reveal for these four books, and a review of In Loving Memory when it’s published.
The upside of approaching bloggers to ask for a cover reveal or a future book review is that they can reach a lot of new readers. The downside is that most of the time, unless you’re the author of a bestselling genre book, your request is likely to be ignored.
C’est la vie.
They’re all going to hear from me again later this year, when In Loving Memory‘s published.
Another thing I’ve done is approach bookstores. When Skywatcher was first published in 1989, I toured all the bookstores to see if it was there – it was! – and I surreptitiously made sure the cover was facing out on the bookshelf before I slipped stealthily away, to visit the next outlet.
Many years have passed and many things have changed in the book publishing world since then. We have a lot fewer bookstores, and those independents that are thriving where I live deal mostly in used books. My other three books counted exclusively on online sales, because they were all Print-on-Demand paperbacks or ebooks.
Diversion’s releases will be different, because the paperbacks will have a distributor – Ingram – which means bookstores will be able to order copies, and I can pitch Sell Sheets to them.
Again, a long and daunting task, identifying who to approach, what they stock, asking them… and then waiting. But I’m falling all over myself because the bookstore at the University of British Columbia, where I work, has agreed to order copies in August, when they’re available.
I’ve joined chat groups and mailing lists. I’ve contributed to discussions. I’ve updated all my social networking sites, and I’ve tried to figure out ways to keep my books in peoples’ minds without annoying them so much they unfriend me, unfollow me, unlike me, or -1 me.
I’ve followed all of the instructions from all of the bestselling authors who’ve written books about how to promote books [Lesson One: Write a book about how to promote your book, then sell copies of it to writers who are desperate to find out how to promote their books]
I have a huge spreadsheet filled with links and ideas and instructions to myself: “On July 7 update this listing with your ISBN numbers as soon as books appear on Amazon”.
And I have a huge list of things I need to do on or after July 7… and which I need to repeat again in August, when the paperbacks are out… and again later this year when In Loving Memory comes out.
If there’s one thing I know about Book Promotion, it’s that it’s not a one-time thing. It’s an ongoing process. And those writers who are doing it full-time have all the advantages there. Currently, I work full time, and that’s not going to stop until October 1, 2019… which isn’t too far away, really, in the grand scheme of things. That’s the day I retire, and officially become a full-time writer, albeit one who is a senior citizen, but just hitting her stride. By then I hope to have written at least three more books in the Memory Books series.
For now, I’ve accomplished these past five days by taking time off work, using up the very generous vacation time I’ve been allotted. There will be another bout of time off / promotional work at the end of July.
I’ve exhausted myself, and still I keep thinking, is there anything I’ve missed? Is there anything else I can do? Where else can I look for opportunities?
But all I can really do now is sit back and wait. And hope my little books capture some attention. And reach a few more people… and sell a few more copies.