Book Promotion: Six-Week Report
Forty years ago my nonfiction book was traditionally published. I did a few radio shows and a couple of book signings and that was all that was expected of me. Six weeks ago my novel, The Bookie’s Son was published by a micro-press, (sixoneseven)Books, and in order to generate sales and build a readership I need to spend hours every day promoting my book. I think this is true in today’s world even if it is traditionally published, but without the backing of a major publisher, without being stocked in bookstores, with the biases that still remain against any alternative publishing that has self publishing elements associated with it, getting out and promoting your book has become the third leg of the writing-a-book experience.
Six weeks after my pub launch here are the highs and lows. On the up side I have received excellent reviews from Publisher’s Weekly, Library Journaland many readers. On the other hand, most major newspapers and magazines receive 150 books a day to review and with smaller and smaller staffs, they review only a handful to forty books a month, which means that most traditionally published books won’t get many reviews, and the print media will rarely look at self published books. I had a successful book reading at the Concord Bookshop, which landed me number 10 on The Boston Globe’s best seller list right below Geraldine Brooks, Ann Patchett and Chad Harbach. Pretty good company, but short-lived because I’m only stocked in one bookstore (Concord...where I live). Hopefully I will add a few more bookstores soon, but most bookstores won’t stock print on demand books.
Social media is the royalty of promotion these days. If you are good at it and have been doing it for awhile before your book is published that is a huge advantage. I’m just getting started, not particularly comfortable in this world and have already made major mistakes. I did get on Facebook a couple of years ago to reunite with some old high school buddies for a reunion and build up Facebook friends as potential readers for my novel. It turns out Facebook friends aren’t interested in your novel unless you have built ongoing relationships. However, old high school friends, even those you haven’t seen for decades, are interested and extremely supportive. Who knew?
I hired a publicist who did a fabulous job, getting me many radio and some television and internet interviews, however if you are under Oprah’s and Terry Gross’s radar, most of these interviews only add up to limited sales.
For me, the best seller list was a high, some potential movie interest exciting, but there are days when few books are sold, I feel lost in the maze of social media, envious of writers who have mastered it, wondering if the book is ever going to gain some traction, feeling gloomy, but then I go to a charity event like I did the other night and a woman I don’t know pulls me aside to tell me how much she loves The Bookie’s Son and it reminds me that it is readers like her who I wrote the novel for. So I push on, tiny steps, one reader, one book club, one book reading, at a time, searching for my readers.