Scenario: Your book is about to come out (as mine is, in exactly seven days–that’s one week–squee!). You have a great publisher (check). You’re thrilled with the book (check). Your publicity team is working hard on your behalf (check). What do you do in the weeks and months leading up to your novel’s release?
A. Nothing. My publicity team is rockin’. They’ll handle everything.
B. Something. My publicity team is rockin’, but I’ll post some information about myself on Twitter, Facebook and my blog.
C. Bunches. My publicity team is rockin’, I’m posting about myself on Twitter, Facebook, my blog and taking some of the opportunities that come my way.
D. Everything I can think of–Twitter, Facebook, other social networking sites, my blog, their blogs–and then some.
So you might’ve guessed which road I’ve chosen: D. I’m going to tell you a little about what I’ve done, in case any of my steps inspire you into thinking outside of the publicity box, too, but first let me tell you why I picked the hard road.
1. This economy. It stinks. Though I haven’t heard anything official from my publicity team (e.g. “Wow, we would’ve had more to support you a year and a half ago”), I suspect they’ve been asked to tighten the purse strings. That doesn’t change my advance. That doesn’t change that my reputation as an author will be hurt if the book doesn’t sell as well as it could’ve if the word was spread just a bit more.
2. This economy. It stinks. People who read books are still reading books–thankfully–but they may very well only be choosing to buy a small percentage of the books they used to. My book has to pop on their radar if it’s going to take one of those plum chosen-book spots. And getting on their radar means they hear about my book in a variety of places.
3. This season. It’s a fine season for books–despite the economy, despite meager budgets. There are long-awaited books out this fall by authors such as Audrey Niffenegger, Dan Brown, Jacquelyn Mitchard and Edward Kennedy. What’s a debut author to do if she hopes to be picked up alongside one of these greats or at least be considered? Options A, B and C weren’t going to cut it.
So what, exactly, have I done?
Researched my heart out. Random House was kind enough to send me extra galleys, so I utilized Indiebound’s terrific online search engine, locating and then contacting independent bookstores across upstate New York. Everyone I contacted wanted a galley, and many said they’d like to have me in for a signing once the book was released.
The relationship between twins is at the heart of Last Will, so I explored this niche market and found several twin review sites and one fantastic indie bookstore dedicated to all things twin (DoubleUp Books). I reached out, and now the reviewers will be reviewing. Made a new friend in Shelby at DoubleUp Books, who is now carrying Last Will.
Remembered my past. I went to college—three of them in fact—so I contacted my alumni associations and had blips posted about Last Will and me in my alumni newsletters and online. Good stuff: I’ve already heard from some fellow alums who hadn’t heard about the book.
I’ve also been a big supporter of my local choir, and a singer with them when time allows. I decided to take an ad out in this coming season’s program. Yes, I’m marketing, but I’m also giving back and supporting an art I love. Win-win.
Buzzed all over town. Sure, Writer Unboxed is part of my platform, but I have others, including connections in and around my hometown. One of the very first things I did—and you’re going to laugh at this—is give one of my galleys to my hair guy. Yep, the guy who cuts my hair, who is a total doll. (He calls himself my “humble barber.”) We both agreed that he sees more women in a month than anyone else in town. He made a virtual shrine for The Last Will of Moira Leahy, then called a few weeks ago, ecstatic: “I’ve set you up with at least eight books clubs. No, I’m not kidding.” Never underestimate the power of a humble barber.
I also reached out to both my local indie store and my local Barnes & Noble, and now have book events (readings/book talks/signings) scheduled at each. Our local library wants to have me in to discuss the writing process, as does my local community college. The local paper will be profiling Last Will and me this coming weekend, and a local radio show—a highly respected one at that—is going to have me as a guest soon.
My local arts community is strong. Last Friday, I participated in my first outside event and reading for Last Will, acting as one of two non-visual installations during an art gathering. Because I knew people were in the mood to be visually stimulated, I printed out the photos from Last Will’s online photo journal and placed them around my room. Flyers produced for the event were distributed, listing the dates and times of my local book signings. Extras will double as mailers.
Prepared for a blogging tsunami. I’ll be either guest blogging for or being interviewed by ~15 others here in the blogosphere. (If you’d like to host me, give me a holler. If I can do it, I will!) In addition, I’ve signed on for a Women on Writing (WOW) blog tour; through them I’ll appear in one way, shape or form on another ~15 blogs. Blogging Tsunami? Well, maybe that’s a wave.
The tsunami is something else.
One of the options I had when signing up for the WOW tour was an add-on called “Everybody’s talking about it.” WOW would then arrange to have as many people as they could gather mention my book on release day via a post on family relationships. So far, ~50 bloggers are participating in the event. [I’ll post details about this in a sec, if you’d like to add your blog to the list—a good networking opportunity, as WOW will list all bloggers; apparently there are also prizes involved.]
Got social—advertising. I’ve already told you about my Twittering and Facebooking, but I took it a step further and took out ads on Facebook, too. This? Was a fun experience that I’m going to tell you more about in the coming weeks. Very easy but also interesting how you can hone in on your target audience.
Have I done more? Yes, but those are some of the high points, and this has already turned into a long post. Am I tired? Yes, but here’s the thing: I’ll have no regrets. No matter what, no matter how the book sells or how it’s received, I have done everything I can to support it. And that’s something I can live with.
**HELP AN UNBOXED WRITER WITH HER BLOGGING TSUNAMI. If you’d like to participate in my blogging tsunami next Tuesday, October 13th—an act which will make me love you all even more than I already do—here’s what you need to know. This, directly from WOW:
Participate in Family Relationships Mass-Blogging Day Oct. 13
Be a Blogging Buddy – Write about Family Relationships
When: October 13, 2009 (Tuesday)
Where: On your blog
Why: Therese Walsh’s debut novel, The Last Will of Moira Leahy, is about a mysterious journey that helps a woman learn more about herself and her twin, whom she lost they were teenagers. The Muffin is organizing a mass blogging, “Everybody’s Talking About…Family Relationships,” to celebrate the book release on October 13. Therese will be at The Muffin (here) blogging about family relationships and she’d like some buddies writing on their blogs about family relationships that same day.
What to blog about: The theme is “Family Relationships.” You can write about anything from tracing your family history to the family feud between your mom and Aunt Martha to planning activities that bring your children closer together. Use your imagination and have fun!
What to include in your blog post: If you’d like to participate, please email us and we’ll link to your blog on The Muffin. Make sure you include the following blurb about the blogging day at the top or bottom of your post:
“Today I’m participating in a mass blogging! WOW! Women on Writing has gathered a group of blogging buddies to write about family relationships. Why family relationships? We’re celebrating the release of Therese Walsh’s debut novel today.The Last Will of Moira Leahy (Random House, October 13, 2009) is about a mysterious journey that helps a woman learn more about herself and her twin, whom she lost they were teenagers. Visit the Muffin (on the 13th) to read what Therese has to say about family relationships and view the list of all my blogging buddies. And make sure you visit www.theresewalsh.com to find out more about the author.”
How to participate: Contact Jodi at ** firstname.lastname@example.org ** if you’d like to participate and we’ll include you and your blog on the list of Therese’s Blogging Buddies running on the Muffin on Oct. 13. It’s a fun way to introduce your blog to The Muffin community while helping a fellow writer.
If you have any blogger friends who may be interested in participating, please feel free to forward this post to them.
Goodies: Besides link-love, we have several goodies to give away (gift certificates, t-shirts, books, subscriptions). We will hold random drawings for all bloggers who participate.
Come blog with us!
If more than ten of you WU peeps decide you’d like to participate, I’ll give away a copy of my book, which by the way arrived this past week (woot!). Let me know in comments; the winner will be chosen randomly. Thanks in advance, everyone!
Seven days and counting. I can hardly believe it.
Write on, all!