In the publication world, there’s a tremendous amount of focus on the publication date as THE time for publicity and promotion. I’ve seen authors throw up their hands the week after publication, when media interest is just starting to trickle in, and say, “I guess we struck out.”
As I’ve mentioned here before, book promotion and publicity take time. It can often take months for an article or review to appear. But even though it’s ideal to get promotion efforts started before the big on-sale day, the sky’s the limit as far as what can be done, and what can happen, even long after that day.
My friend and literary idol Anjali Mitter Duva is a glowing example. Her debut novel, Faint Promise of Rain, released in October of 2014. Since then, she has devoted herself tirelessly to promoting it via traditional media, social media, public speaking engagements (including the occasional dance performance related to the book’s plot) and much more. Last year, her efforts led to the fulfillment of a dream: a foreign rights deal with French publisher Editions Tallandier. The French edition, Adhira, fille de la pluie, released in France (where Anjali grew up) this past May – almost 4 years after the U.S. publication. Anjali’s deep commitment to long-term promotion played an important role in this wonderful turn of events.
What did she do? How did she do it? I’m thrilled to have Anjali join us today to talk about her incredible journey, and share a number of extremely handy and insightful tips: One of my favorites: “know that you’re in it for the long haul and make plans that are slow, steady and sustainable.”
SB: From the very start, you had a clear vision of what you wanted for Faint Promise of Rain. Can you share that with us?
AMD: When I started to write Faint Promise of Rain, way back in a previous era, I already knew I was in it for the long haul. You see, I planned from the start to write a set of four related but free-standing books, all historical novels with dance and India at their center, yet all set at different times and contexts in history. FPR was to be the first. I think some of this long-term planning comes from my background as an urban planner working on infrastructure projects: very long projects with frequent cost overruns and schedule changes! This long-term vision is what set the tone and pace for my promotion efforts: slow, steady, sustainable. My idea was to build a loyal, strong readership and following, because I knew (at least, I hoped, and still do) that people who enjoyed my first book would likely enjoy my next three as well. But these are historical novels that take, for me at least, years to research and write. So my approach had to be one I could sustain–financially, logistically, energy-wise–over time. Years, if not decades. Five years in, I do feel I have been successful in meeting this goal. I don’t have millions of readers (yet) but I have a sizeable number, and, more importantly, I feel quite connected to them.
SB: When Faint Promise of Rain first came out, you hired a PR agency to carry out a launch campaign. But you took all sorts of initiatives on the side. What did the agency do? What did you do?
AMD: I did hire a PR agency, but for a variety of reasons, it didn’t work out. I’d had some reservations about her initially, and going with a publicist about whom I didn’t feel 100% confident is my one regret in this whole process. I should have hired you, Sharon! I did a large majority of the work before the launch, during, and for years after. In terms of a launch campaign, here’s what I did myself: [Read more…]