Advertising – seeking advice
You may think that you’ve heard quite enough about “The Servant’s Voice”, and next week I will indeed go on to something else, I promise. But given that part of the purpose of this blog is unashamedly to promote my books, I’m assuming a fairly sympathetic readership here, which I am proposing to use as a sounding-board or focus group for thoughts about advertising.
Being able to write and publish the Tales From Ragaris is a God-given privilege, for which I shall never cease to be grateful.
And considering that they’re independently-published by a very small outfit, my books have sold pretty well.
Which is nice. I’d like to make a little money, and for some people to hear of and appreciate the books without knowing us beforehand.
This great pleasure has indeed been mine, but obviously I’d like it to be mine more often, as often as possible, in fact. And although several readers have been very nice about them on Amazon etc (you know who you are), I’m aware that the Tales from Ragaris are not to everyone’s taste. Friends who read the first one out of friendship, and didn’t like it but were too polite to say so, should not feel compelled to read the second or third. I really really mean this.
Therefore I need to expand my reader base.
What in theory I want is “word-of-mouth recommendation.” You’ve read, I’ve read, books because other people told us they were good – and I don’t just mean the classics.
The sad fact however is that word-of-mouth works best for books that have enthusiastic publishers already, who can get the reviews, arrange the interviews, negotiate with Richard and Judy, and arrange displays in WH Smith – hoping that the momentum thus begun will snowball as readers share with delight. It also remains true I think that word-of-mouth is of particular value for authors of the unconventional out-of-standard-genre, which includes my work, but more famously includes JK Rowling, or Terry Pratchett, or indeed Gail Honeyman.
I have myself been part of the recent enthusiastic word-of-mouth promotion of Honeyman’s “Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine”. This book is being read in thousands because people have read it, loved it and told their friends – but Honeyman still had a mainstream agent and publisher to start the ball rolling. (See this nice interview with her: https://www.theguardian.com/books/2018/jan/12/gail-honeyman-didnt-want-eleanor-oliphant-portrayed-as-victim.)
Another way to build a brand is the one taken by notable independent successes Becky Chambers (“A Long Way to a Small Angry Planet”) and Andy Weir (“The Martian”). They used the internet to attract attention before publishing, and crowdfunded their publication. So by the time the books came out, they already had a sizeable fan base.
It’s too late now for me to do this.
Realistically, the Tales From Ragaris are always going to be small and obscure – while still being great fun and very satisfying for me. But what can I do, without spending a fortune, to make them slightly less obscure?
In other words, what is the best way to advertise?
Thank you to those who support the Swords Without Misogyny page on Facebook, by commenting, liking and sharing: special shout out here to Judith Renton! But I’m beginning to think that people who say that Facebook isn’t as good a platform as you might think are right – especially following the rule changes introduced in January, intended to promote Friends and Family rather than commercial pages. (Especially commercial pages which are trying to get exposure for free.)
The thought of trying to do a Facebook via Twitter or Instagram is a bit daunting for a technophobe like me.
I’ve dabbled in print advertising, not to much effect. I obviously seize opportunities to talk about my books, but I don’t want to become a bore.
Launch parties are necessary and great fun, but not very lucrative. Getting reviews in (print) magazines is very difficult. I did try Premier Christianity and Woman Alive – but I don’t blame them for giving preferential treatment to mainstream publishers, and my work is not standard Christian fiction. (Too many swear words, for one thing.)
A snapshot of my current marketing plan:
a) Try to get on the go-to list as a speaker for community groups like the WI (this means making a Powerpoint!);
b) prepare proper business cards to distribute;
c) investigate advertising in specialised magazines;
d) explore online reviewers of which there are a plethora, but how much reach do they have for the work of finding them?
Also, can Beeston people tell me if anyone actually opens and reads the Beestonian, Beeston Express, or even Beeston Local News, which seems to be largely about cars and gardening? Is it worth advertising in these, probably cheaper than the Big Issue?
I can always put up more posters round the town. But if anyone else has any suggestions that don’t cost too much money, please comment below.
Love from the PPI Blogger
PS Next week, something different!!
Stephen Sheridan22nd October 2018 at 10:36 am
This is the $64,000 question (as the Americans said in the Seventies)! I have some thoughts, but I’ll email them to you as it may be a bit long.