Saturday 11 February 2017


'If I write it, they will read it' ~ thinks many a fledgling author with a quiet smile.
Oh no they won't!
It is estimated that a new author on Amazon may sell as little as 50 copies of their book in a year. 95% of writers earn less than £5k. The 'top earners' are a teeny tiny % of the market, and usually get there on the back of a publicity department. But you don't have one, do you? Nor do I. So where to dive in?

Writing a book and getting it published, by whatever conduit you use, is only the start. To get any sales, you have to make people aware of your masterpiece. In this blog, I'm exploring some of the portals I use to promote my work ~ if I don't mention something, it's because I don't specifically use it for book promotion. Feel free to expound on how useful you find it in the comments section, because unless we are all out there, loud and proud, nobody will notice

1. Pre-Publication: At least three months before you are ready to gift the reading public with your masterpiece, it is good to offer it to a few REPUTABLE book blogger sites to read. I say 'reputable' because you want an honest opinion. One of the best sites is Rosie Amber @rosieamber1  Getting your manuscript to them early means that you will have a few (hopefully good) reviews up as soon as your book is published. And yes, I can vouch for their integrity : a reviewer posted a less than enthusiastic review of one of my YA ebooks. I am sure there are other book bloggers out there. Maybe people could identify them in the comments section.

2. Twitter::  I make Twitter my main platform. Most of my sales come from Twitter  eg:

I have been looking at your books on Amazon and all look great, will buy two of your favorites. Select please.

 I also encourage readers to post pictures of the actual book (and then they get a surprise signature sent to them in the post)
It's next on my 'to read' pile 🙂
And practically all sales come from me chatting, posting stuff etc or people recommending the books to other readers. In other words, I'm a friend first, an online character second, and a writer selling books third.

2a Twitter Hashtags: I use #histfic or #Victorian and #historicalfiction. This places my book alongside the others in the same genre and makes it easier for readers to find them. Your genre will have a #. Or there are general ones #bookboost @IARTG ... check other people's promo posts and you pick them up quickly. You can also follow readers via the authors especially if they have the magic words Avid Reader in their bio. Don't send them promos though. If you want to see some Twitter book promos, check out @TerryTyler4 or @paul_cude (or even me) for ideas.

Make sure you RETWEET other writers and say a general or personal thank-you when people retweet you.

 3. Press Releases: The local press are (usually) delighted to receive a press release, a publicity pic and a free copy to review.

3a. Press Releases: Anywhere your book is set will be delighted also.

3. Local Radio: Contact them via Twitter, phone them up, arrange to do a studio interview. Listen, I sound like a 15 year old mainlining helium, but I still do it.

4. National Press: Will be interested if you have a brilliant backstory, particularly if it involves abuse, or hardship. Also if you earned shedloads of advance shekels or you are very very photogenic. I haven't cracked this one yet. Maybe you will. Also if your partner/family member is 'famous'. However I was told by the wife of someone well known in public life that this could be a two-edged sword as the press can jump on you if said famous person is not liked.
Bernie Steadman in W H Smiths

5. Literary Festivals: Everybody's doing it. Local library will have contacts of yours. Organisers have a Twitter site. Get in touch. I did the first St Albans Literary Festival two years ago and last year. I ran a workshop on how to get published ... ooh, and I had some books on a side-table.

6. Signings: Local bookshop is worth approaching (see pic). Make sure you are professional in your set-up and your conduct ~ do not hassle people to buy your books.

Harpenden Writers, 27th Jan 2017
7.Talks: WI ~ you have to audition and be approved, but it's worth it. They pass you round like a sweetie. Local book clubs/writers' groups are also worth contacting. Library should hold the list. If you write YA or children's fiction, schools are always keen to have a visiting writer. Make sure you get paid ~ the Society of Authors has recommended fees. WI expects you to donate 10% of any book sales to their group.

8. Blogging: Worth a whole post on its own. Maybe I'll write one. Sufficient to say that blogs are great for writing interesting posts around your book. I have blogged on Sex, Food, Child cruelty, Poisons .. did I mention Sex? Some people arrange Blog Tours to publicize their book. I host other writers and write posts for other blogs. It's getting your name out there, building your profile and being part of the writing community.

Writing Magazine
9. Writing Magazine (@WritingMagazine) : The 'bible' for any writer. It has comps, helpful articles, lists of publishers/magazines that are open for submissions, everything you need to stay in touch with fellow writers etc. It also has a Membership Spot where you can happily plug your new novel. I always do them a small write-up. Worth the subscription (which you can claim as legitimate expenses against tax). You can also use their own marketplace to promote your book FREE!

10. Local Shops:: If you are a small published/self published writer with books, it is well nigh impossible to get them into the big bookshops. This is because they get 45% discounts from established publishers and usually only deal with 2 or 3 suppliers. But other shops like gift shops, & craft shops may well be happy to negotiate a better rate. I get a kick from seeing my books in a local shop window (see pic at top of piece). I've never had that happen at Waterstones!

Finally -  if you have published actual books, make sure you are registered for PLR ~ Public Lending Rights: that's the money paid by libraries every time your book is borrowed. You can register here. Every little helps.

What I do not do, and nor should you, is inundate followers, friends on Facebook, or total strangers with 'buy my book' promos 24/7. If you want to read one of my books, great. If not, hey. And I won't be constantly checking my sales figures or Amazon and informing you every hour of the day. That way madness lies. And somehow I have to find time to get on with the next book, (which is the other GREAT way to generate sales), so that IF you bought, read and enjoyed Diamonds & Dust and its three successors, there will be another book in the pipeline for you to read very soon.


  1. Interesting advice. A freind of mine is a crimje writer in the states and he blohgghs as he's writinhg the stories and visits the places where the action takes place and photographs them so you really get involved. Good luck with your sales!

    1. If you read my 'How I write' posts, you will see that I do this also...London is full of Victorian nooks and crannies..and as it still resembled the gigantic building site it was in the 1860s...I feel I am back in its past!

  2. If the day comes that I might, finally, have something worth publishing. Rest assured I will annoy the hell out of you before. Just to get more bits of your, may I say, wisdom. OK, experience if you prefer so. I will still call it wisdom.

  3. Thank you so much for the shout out and recommendation Carol.

  4. Can I just say that I (and others) don't consider it necessary to thank for retweets? They're just something we do, day in, day out; if I thanked everyone who retweeted me, I'd never get any writing done, and I don't think people want thanking, generally, just a retweet back. That's why most people do them, and the RT back means 'thank you', I think.

    This is mostly about promotion for paperbacks (and very good it is too); will you be doing anything for the many writers who only do ebooks?

    1. I hope 2/3rds was applicable to both formats... nothing to stop ebook only authors doing book talks/festivals ..a lot of people contemplating self-publishing would appreciate advice.... about preparing your manuscript and about the actual writing process.

    2. Sorry, I meant it's about half for paperback writers, not mostly!! I do think, though, that there are many, many people like me who would loathe and shy away from anything like radio interviews (and not have the gall to ask for them in the first place). I believe those amongst us who feel confident enough to do talks and show our skills off in public are in the minority. BUT!!!! I understand that this article is you telling us what YOU do - not general advice :)

    3. Yep. Just pointing out there are more ways than posting promos on social media. I am always surprised you don't offer books though. It is as easy to load to Createspace (OK, you have to do a full wrap cover. But it does give people choice, as well as a (small) income stream.....

    4. It is something I've always thought, oh, I'll get round to it one day, about! But when I was at Leicester with Lizzie Lamb and co, and Georgia, Mark Barry, etc, they all agreed that selling paperbacks was a thankless task, and have all sat there in so many places feeling an idiot as people walk by their displays... as Georgia said, if people haven't heard of you, they're not interested. You get some sales out of kindness and from friends, and in places where you're known locally, but most of their sales come from ebooks. As more and more people start to read them, I think that the ebook is the way of the future. Even my father reads on a Kindle now! He loves it because we can find him books he wouldn't be able to find in the shops, and he can alter the print size, background, etc.

      I do appreciate all you say, honest I do! And understand what you are doing with this post. But if paperbacks are only a small income for you, imagine how microscopic it would be for someone like me, who wouldn't even do the stuff to push them..

    5. Fair could be my genre .. people like reading a 'historical novel' in paperback.

  5. I'm going to print out your advice. Your post is just the right length and reminds me of the stuff I need to be doing;)

  6. Great advice Carol, thanks will be needing this as planning to self publish in 2017. :)

    1. Let me know if you require any blog is always available.

  7. Very helpful! I'm discovering a great community of authors willing to share their experience. Really appreciated!

    1. I think (mostly) we are an extremely helpful lot!


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