|At Guildford Library: Helen S, Annie & Anna Campbell|
When I envisaged myself as a writer I have to admit I had a limited view of what that entailed. Mostly I saw myself writing, or perhaps sharing a champagne lunch with writerly friends while discussing our bestsellers (hey, I was allowed to dream!). At no stage did I consider how much time I could potentially spend on promotion.
One of my first experiences of it was heading to Sydney for a library talk with fellow romance writer Anna Campbell. We received a warm welcome and I met some lovely readers, one of whom is in this photo, and who contacts me whenever she's read another of my stories. Talk about a boost! So, there I was talking publicly about my writing - a new experience. There have been a few radio, newspaper and magazine interviews, including for some international outlets. I suspect though that, as they weren't targeting romance readers in particular, they had minimal value as promotion. On the other hand, it's a good way of developing skills in handling unexpected questions!
I've delivered romance writing workshops in libraries and at a writers' festival as well as at a romance writers conference. All were terrific experiences but again, not really valuable promotion (feel free to tell me if I'm wrong). Instead I see those as part of the process of participating in the romance writing community and encouraging others as I've been encouraged along the way.
And then there is the huge range of other promotional opportunities. There's blogging (I don't have my own but join in with other writers, like here at Love Cats, which I confess is more like dropping in with friends for a chat). There's Facebook and Twitter and a multitude of emerging opportunities all across the web. There's Goodreads where your books are often reviewed and Amazon ditto. Most authors have websites and some are outstanding - attractive and easy to use. Gauging whether my own is like that is much harder as, apart from the occasional comment, most visitors don't offer a view. I'm convinced though that having a site is a necessity for an author now. Even if it does no more than list previous and upcoming titles.
In addition to website advertising there are hard copy ads in magazines as well as a whole industry built around advertising materials: pens, stickers, notepads, T shirts, customised giveaways of all shapes and sizes. Specially designed bookmarks are very popular too. It's so tempting, as a stationery addict, to tell myself that these would be a wise investment - and give me an excuse to pore over a lovely catalogue of products I could customise. Do readers appreciate them? I don't know. I've been bombarded with bookmarks and tend to keep only the ones that most appeal. If I receive something really cute or useful from an author I use it and certainly remember the name of the author. Whether that influences me to buy their books in future, I'm not sure.
I suppose one of the best methods of promotion is reader word of mouth and good reviews. Sadly though that's not something I have control over.
With so many promotional opportunities around it can be hard to stay focused on writing the next book, which after all, is what's it's all about!
So my question is: as a reader, or as a writer, what do you find effective in promoting a book? How much is too much? Does promotion affect your book buying? I'd love to hear your thoughts!