The Birds and the Bees

So it recently hit me that my novel will be published on (don’t snigger) April 1st and that the file labelled Marketing, which has hitherto sat on a shelf above my desk in a floaty, non-threatening, futuristic kind of way, has begun to jump up and down and beckon me – or whatever a marketing file without hands or feet does to signal Urgency.

It’s time, it seems, to enter the publicity machine. Or rather, the animal kingdom. I must imitate the bee and Create A Buzz around my book. I must emulate the bird and learn to Twitter and Tweet (even, it seems, to Re-Tweet - which for some disgusting reason brings to mind Refried Beans). I must copy the spider and spin a website to entice unwary media flies to my lair (mwa-ha-ha).

Now all this doesn’t come easily to me. One of my reasons for leaving the BBC, back in 1996, was because of the emphasis on what they called Your Profile In The Department. In other words, it wasn’t enough to make programmes: you had to be seen to be making them. Whereas all I wanted was to hide away in my tatty corner of the horribly open-plan office and just get on with it. Or so I told myself. So what’s different this time around?

Maybe, like any pushy parent, I want to do the best for my book. I want it to be top of the class, invited to all the right parties, chosen for the first team and elected Head Prefect (jolly hockeysticks and shades of Mallory Towers).

Or maybe my Media Tart is coming out of the closet.

O Media Tart – you of the black lace padded bra, the pillar-box lipstick, the tottering sparkly heels, the perpetually astonished Botoxed brows and the sooty false eyelashes, all the better to flutter at unwary victims –

Erm, sorry. I digress. Get back in that closet, will you, and shut the door.

So I’ve made a start on the seven pages of what-seemed-like-brilliant-ideas-at-the-time. I’ve contacted well-known media figures to ask if they might read and possibly review The Making of Her. So far, the tally is: three no’s (one of them absolutely delightful – thanks, Bel Mooney), one yes, perhaps and six waiting. I’ve crouched over Benn’s Media in the library, sandwiched between whispering students, and copied out 50 contacts, from glossy magazines to cosmetic surgery trade magazines. After that, I will turn to newspapers, literary festivals, bookgroups and local publications. My new Publicity Profile will be peppered with postcards and press releases. I will Face Up to Facebook, Brazen it at Bookstores, Bare All to Bloggers and generally learn to Be Nice.

The other day I had an email from my publisher, wondering whether a new book was in the pipeline. My inner writer attempted to reply, but was prevented by the Media Tart who had decided it was prudent to sit on her.

Will any of these activities make an iota of difference to sales? Ask me in six months time, when the inner writer will hopefully be back in her dark corner, plying her trade.

Meanwhile, let the Media Tart have her wicked, wanton way. Let her make predatory eyes at the press. Let her toss away her black bra and frolic with the birds and the bees.

And wish her luck, will you? I think she may need it


Helen Black said...

Susie, I always start my campaigns (whihc makes them sound much grander than they are) with a meeting/lunch with my PR person at the publishers.

They're usually full of ideas and energy.

You can then tell that person your own thoughts and you can work together (offloading as much as you can to the professional).
HB x

Sandra Davies said...

I find this self-promotion prospect far far scarier than writing a novel or six - look forward to hearing how it went - and the very best of luck.

Small Blonde Hippy said...

Self promotion is very scary isn't it? As writers we spend so much time sitting in corners with our nose stuck in a notebook or laptop, it's difficult to blow our own trumpets. Good luck with it all.

JO said...

Oh yes we wish you luck, And if you ever find out what 'works' and what doesn't - do let us know.

Neil said...

Good luck with the book Susie. You seem to be having to do a lot of things that I would expect to be done by the publisher's publicity or marketing departments but perhaps with a small press they expect you to do a lot more of this yourself?

Fionnuala said...

It does seem that writers once published are very much left to their own devices. Ive had this debate with several and those who are more media shy do believe that it may have a negative impact on sales.
Tis enough to put you off being published!!
Good luck Susy - Im quite sure youre doing everything right and you'll be brilliant. x

Susie Nott-Bower said...

Thanks, all, for your good wishes. Will pass them on to Media Tart. ;)
Helen and Neil, my publisher is very small and doesn't have a PR person. Though from what I understand, unless your book is with a very big publisher or has been selected as The One To Promote, publicity is mostly left to the writer these days. My publisher is doing all they can too,but they don't have a huge marketing budget.

Lindsay said...

Congratulations on your publication. Good luck with the publicity - how about a posting to tell us how it's going every couple of months? I hate the idea of self-promotion too, but it seems to be the way of the world these days!

Susie Nott-Bower said...

Thanks, Lindsay - I will do that!

Debs Riccio said...

Self-promotion makes me shudder. I'm sure the reason I haven't achieved any heights (dizzy or otherwise)is Nature's way of telling me I would be a marketing mess. Ah well... onwards and.... onwards :)

DT said...

Not sure I can fit all these positives into one comment, but here goes....

1. Yay! You've got a publication date.
2. As marketing is just communication and communication is all a game anyway, you get a chance to play.
3. As you're going to be actively involved in marketing / PR, you get to tell your story about you story in your own way. This is a gift, as you can do things in a way that feels right to you.
4. You can use this 'game' to take you to places, people and situations you've never been to before. e.g. promo material to Mslexia, Lit Fests and any other intelligent outlet you want to get closer to.
5. Richard Bach: There is no such thing as a problem without a gift for you in its hands. You seek problems because you need their gifts.
6. You are not alone in this. You're surrounded by friends and well-wishers - darn well make use of us!
7. You may never know how many other writers, readers and especially women that you'll have an opportunity to inspire.

Susie Nott-Bower said...


Anonymous said...

Best of luck, Susie! Good for you getting yourself out there. Guess it is a bit scary, but then sometimes the most rewarding things in life are the ones that challenge us most. I'm sure you'll step up to the mark and, um, if i'm ever in your position i'll be knocking at your door for tips - and underwear advice;)

Sam xx

Susie Nott-Bower said...

Thanks, Sam! :)