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Everything I know about book promotion -- by Miluna

When I received the acceptance email from Indigo Dreams, a small UK press, saying that they would like to publish my debut novel, Mesmerised, I couldn’t have been happier. I had sent the manuscript to over twenty literary agents. Standard rejection letters came back in reply. A few agents sent feedback, which made me even more determined to sharpen up the prose and send out again. Eventually, all the responses were personal but unanimous, ‘we love the idea of a novel about the impressionists, but we won’t be taking this on because we don’t think we can sell it.’


The narrative is written in first person, present tense, from the point of view of Dr Paul Gachet, an artist himself, friend and physician to Edouard Manet, Claude Monet, Camille Pissarro, Vincent van Gogh and others. The fact that Gachet was a homeopath, seemed to be the problem. Many agents alluded to it, one actually came right out and said, ‘I’ve read the enclosed and you are a very good writer but the last thing I would want to do is represent something that might help homeopathy.’


I knew from the outset that I had chosen controversial material. I also knew that a lot of people have very strong emotions around the subject of homeopathy. But I saw that as a selling point. Obviously, I was in the minority.


At that point I had to make a decision. Either I was going to self publish, a lonely and difficult route, especially when I hadn’t written something that sits neatly inside a best selling genre like crime fiction or sadomasochism. Unlike a friend of my daughter who wrote a series of six books on the latter and sold 300,000 downloadable copies in six months. How did she do it? More on that later.


Or I was going to try and find an independent publisher to work with and give me credibility, which is exactly what I did and although that in itself proved to be a successful endeavour, the hard work had only just begun. Most small presses in the UK expect authors to promote their own work. In fact, according to a friend of mine who works as an editor for a rather large UK based publisher, so do the conglomerates.


About a year before Mesmerised was assigned to Indigo Dreams I started to build a Twitter and Facebook following in both my own name and in Dr Gachet’s. Social Media is time consuming but doable for each and every one of us, the trick is not to use the forums purely to advertise (who likes to sign up to adverts?) but to engage, converse and entertain. Easy. That’s the same as we do in our writing, right?


However, the chance of getting a book review in a national newspaper or magazine for most of us is minimal, but so is a book deal. So on that basis it’s well worth trying. What I didn’t know then, that I know now, is that most of those book critics need to receive a copy of the book about four months in advance of its publishing date before they will even consider reviewing it. Once the book is published, to them it is a ‘dead duck in the water’. As my publishing date was still in question four months before, I hesitated in sending my book out and possibly lost out on, arguably, one the most valuable ways of bringing my novel to the attention of a large audience.


Instead, I concentrated on another idea, one that I instinctively believed to be a great way to publicise my work. A teaser. Having looked on-line I noticed that most book trailers don’t entice the viewer in the same way as film trailers. So, with no money allocated for a budget I set out to make one that did. I wrote to all the film schools in London asking if any of their students would be interested in making a 90 second film to promote my book, and a young Swedish filmmaker responded. Someone incredibly talented who resonated with my work. The result has received nearly 1,000 hits on YouTube and whenever I do book signings, or readings I tend to sell out of the copies I bring along, simply because of this tool. See what you think. Here is a link:


With only my social media contacts, a blog dedicated to the book and my trailer, Mesmerised shot up to #2 in the Amazon Medical Fiction UK chart last Christmas. Unfortunately, sales have not been sustained at the same level. Which brings me back to the friend of my daughter’s who wrote the Erotica S&M series. She swears that the key to her success is Amazon Meta Data; the keywords you type into Amazon when you upload your book.


I remember some time ago reading an interview with Alexander Mc Call Smith, the author of The Number One Ladies Detective Agency. He maintained that it took two years of constant promotion before his book became a number one bestseller. So, the key thing is to keep promoting using every avenue that’s open, and of course to keep writing, because writing is the real joy and what it’s really all about for an author.



Posted by Miluna 12 Jul 2014 at 00:24
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Responses to this blog

Purplek 14 Jul 2014 at 20:06  
Your book trailer is brilliant!
Vicky123 14 Jul 2014 at 23:19  
Interesting and informative-thank you. And I agree with Purplek- a brilliant trailer.
Blandcorp 15 Jul 2014 at 17:24  
The most interesting (and depressing) bit in this article is about how the publisher "expects you to do your own promotion" bit. And this is now seen as normal?

If they don't do promotion, then what the FFFFFF do they do?

Suppose I had a publishable text, meaning some pub house told me yeah, we'll publish this but you must take care of your promotion. I'd send them off with a FFFFUUU. I can pay for a cover. I can pay for a professional editor. If I need to do my own promotion I might as well self-publish and not pay worse-than-useless leechers.

Very, very saddening news.

Jane_r6ae 16 Jul 2014 at 22:51  
I love your book trailer! On another note, this is quite informative... Thanks.
Jane_r6ae 16 Jul 2014 at 22:51  
I love your book trailer! On another note, this is quite informative... Thanks.
Celebc¨en 18 Jul 2014 at 05:17  
I think now publishers expect authors to promot becase it is possible. Before the internet and social media era, authors had very few possibilities to reach out for their readers. Basically, they only could at face-to-face presentations. Some were reachable by mail. An author didn't have any possibility to promote through the 'classic' venues, like distribution and advertisements.
But today, an author has the same possibilities as a publisher to promote (well, nearly the same), and audiece expect to be in touch with the author, or they will condiser him selfish and distant.
So... the world is changing and we should change with it. Sure, we like to only look at the exiting new possibilities we have as authors, like self-publishing, but the social media era has brought about changes that go beyond what we are excited about, includind some 'obligations' that we sometimes would like to disregard.
Blandcorp 18 Jul 2014 at 14:36  
Sorry, not buying this. It is now possible to find professional cover artists and editors for yourself; so should publishers expect you to do that too?

Also just because you "can" (by leveraging this over-rated social media of today), doesn't imply you "can do well". That's why you'd bring other people to make your cover, edit, or at least proof-read your work, after all.

Yes, the world is changing. And if the change is such that there is no or little functional difference between what you have to do as a self-pub, compared to the trad. route, then the trad. publishers are to die. That's the change.

Purplek 18 Jul 2014 at 14:47  
Not ALL publishers are like this. Many of the respected ones spend a lot of time and money promoting your book. Sure, they like if you promote your own book too, but is that really such a big ask? Why wouldn't you WANT to promote the thing you've spent years slaving over?
Blandcorp 18 Jul 2014 at 15:07  
they like if you promote your own book too
As long as they don't (contractually) expect it, it's fine

Why wouldn't you WANT to promote the thing
Because I know enough to know it's not my thing. And I also know that do well it needs a lot of time that I want for other purposes. So basically, this is exactly the kind of reason why an economy exists and we exchange goods and services. We can't be competent, or inclined, or with the resources, to do everything we need. So we trade.
18 Jul 2014 at 17:46  
I enjoyed viewing the book trailer. I thought it was a good piece of promotion for your book. I am wondering if the film school offered to do the project for free or for minimal cost?

I am considering doing some workshops around the theme of my book along with other social media activities. I plan to use YouTube, but now I am considering new ways to use it because of your post. Thank you!

Paula Marie

Mikewhite 5 Sep 2014 at 04:19  
Loved the trailer, I am thinking about doing the same now with my new novel Milkwhite the Vampire under my pen name Michael James. Can you tell me more about the metadata,I know what it is and have amazon cloud tags but you piqued my interest.
Yhosby 23 Sep 2014 at 18:14  
I'm happy everything worked out for you. It's cool that you found a way for social media to be a great asset instead of a distraction

Keep smiling,

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