Especially when an author self-publishes, as I have done, writing the book is just the beginning. First, there is the need to select a cover, page style and formatting software for it. In my case, I opted to hire a cover and page designer, as I am IT-challenged. But, once the book is up and running, the real work begins – marketing the book.
A successful launch, imaginatively designed to appeal to people with a broader interest than reading books, was helpful to me in kick-starting the whole process. I went with a British 1950s theme, because that’s where and when much of the book was set. Aggressive, yet tactfully-executed local PR proved helpful. This included issuing press releases, approaching local bookstores, social media campaigns, and contacting social and professional groups with whom I have been or am still affiliated. I make it a habit to always carry 5-10 books in the car as I’m driving around on everyday business. Last, but by no means least, I have organized book signings and a tour of 6 libraries in PEI, where I carry out readings, engage in Q & A, and do signings.
To spread the word beyond where I live on Prince Edward Island, I have engaged the services of a marketing company in Ontario, Canada. They are organizing placements for my books in several bookstores across the Maritime provinces, along with 2 tours involving bookstores and libraries. This same company is helping organize my social media postings and is exploring the possibility of an event during Canadian Mental Health Week (May 4-10, 2015), as my memoir has a mental health theme.
I post on several web sites that are author and reader-orientated. As well, I belong to a number of Facebook groups that are based in Sheffield, UK, the backdrop for my memoir. This includes 2 web sites operated by the alumni of my old Grammar School. Since the book is set in Sheffield and uses the Sheffield dialect in its dialog sections, I am very anxious to spread the word about it in my “home town.” For this reason, I am considering hiring another professional to help me make this happen. I have also been in contact with authors and book bloggers in the UK, as well as with the Mental Health Foundation (UK), to solicit help in promoting my book and in the latter instance, facilitate awareness about mental health issues.
Looked at in purely financial terms, this memoir would be considered a loss. In the best possible scenario, I could break even. And all this work that is going into it–why am I doing it?
Thankfully, this is not how I look at it. I look upon it as a labor of love. In meeting with groups, talking to people, receiving feedback, I am deriving immense satisfaction from the project. I am discovering that my book appeals to some people for its nostalgic elements, to others for its ironic humour, while some people find it speaks to them at a more fundamental level, inspiring conversations about such topics as divorce and mental illness. This makes the effort I am putting into the marketing very worthwhile.
Marketing is not what I was trained to do. But, I am enjoying that part of it which is opening up important conversations.