In the early days of ecommerce, every third article about driving traffic to websites included some sort of play on the Field of Dreams quote “If you build it, they will come”—something along the lines of “Just because you build a website, doesn't mean they'll come; you have to promote it as well.” I know, because I wrote and edited many of those articles. (Consider this my mea culpa for perpetuating that cliché.)
But clichés become clichés for a reason: They’re true. And this particular cliché applies to book publishing as well: Just because you write and publish a book, doesn’t mean people will read it. You’ve got to promote the damn thing.
Which brings me to my current obsession—how to promote the novel I’m publishing this autumn.
Here’s the blurb for Beyond Billicombe, my upcoming book:
Her search, however, turns out to be anything but simple. For one thing, Suzanne is a former child actress, well known for her role on a long-running TV series, and she needs to avoid being recognized while exploring Billicombe’s seamy underside. For another, Richard, a local man Suzanne turns to for help, has problems of his own stemming from a car accident that cost him much of his memory. Suzanne’s quest for Jax and Richard’s attempt to put his life back together collide in ways neither could have expected.
As you can see, it doesn’t fit neatly into any one genre. Mystery, possibly, in that the main character is searching for a missing person. To me, though, it doesn’t feel like a mystery in the Ruth Rendell/Arnaldur Indriðason sense, though I must admit I don’t read all that many mysteries.
All the same, I suppose I could go with the mystery aspect as my hook. When targeting book bloggers to send copies to for review, I could include those who favor that genre.
But the larger question is, what do I do, besides reaching out to bloggers and my local newspapers, to promote Beyond Billicombe?
I’ll post the prologue here on my blog, and maybe the first chapter. But what else?
You’d think, having written about marketing for most of my career, I’d be chock full of ideas. But a big stumbling block is that, deep down, I don’t really want to promote myself.
There’s a reason I prefer fictional people to real ones. I’m not a social animal (much to my more outgoing husband’s dismay). Real-life people make me nervous. I assume they’re going to reject me, so I hesitate to put myself out there. When I was a tyro reporter, I nearly doubled over from stomach pains every time I had to pick up the phone to interview someone. (Which leads to the question, Why the hell did I become a journalist? I still don’t know.) Years of practice (and therapy, and sertraline) now enable me to sometimes enjoy interviewing sources. But I still expect rejection at nearly every other turn. Which is why, despite having written this five days ago, I’m only posting it now.
So here goes: Any ideas on how I should promote Beyond Billicombe? There’s a free book in it for anyone whose ideas I use.