For most writers, there is a clear order of service when creating a book:
1. Write the first draft.
2. Despair at that draft and then edit the entire manuscript.
3. Repeat step two until you are happy with the manuscript.
4. Submit the manuscript to an agent or publisher.
5. Wait for fame / fortune / that long-desired TV or film deal.
6. The End.
However, getting published is just the start of another journey and both published and self-published authors may need help to reach their target audience. My friend Jill Burkinshaw is a Book Promoter at https://booksnall.blog and she has agreed to let me play inquisitor.
Jill, thanks for joining me in cyber space. I’ll start with the obvious question: What methods do you use for promoting a book?
Hi Derek, thank you for this opportunity to chat about my work. I use several methods of promotion. I organise Blog Tours and for these I try to fill the slots with as many review stops as possible. The tours will run for 7-10 days (or longer if I have enough interest). I ask for the reviews / blogs to be shared in as many places as possible, including Goodreads and Amazon. I also host Launch Parties that enable authors to engage with readers. In addition, I (and others) post, promote and share on multiple Social Media platforms and in groups.
Sometimes, if it is not possible to fill with review stops, some Blogs will host guest posts. This is something provided by the author - maybe the rationale for the book, a little about one of the characters, or maybe something about the author.
In all cases the post will include the synopsis for the book and buy links.
Okay, for the uninitiated, what is a blog tour?
Before digital books became the norm an Author would often do a Book Tour. They would travel around visiting bookshops and do book signings and other promotions. Some still do this for Paperback and Hardback books.
A Blog Tour is the virtual equivalent. People who have Blogs or websites will contact a Blog Tour organiser and express an interest in joining tours. Bloggers who are hosting a review stop will receive a copy of the book in digital format. This is usually kindle but other formats are often available.
Blog Tours are a very effective way of getting a book noticed. The Blog Tour host will post and share the Blog in as many places as possible and all their friends on Social Media will also share. Many readers look for book suggestions on Social Media and all the sharing gets the book noticed by a wide range of people, which has a positive impact on sales.
Do you prefer to work with books that have recently been published?
I organise Blog Tours for new releases, republished books and also for books that have been released either recently or some time ago. In most cases even a book that was released a few years ago will benefit from a Blog Tour to bring it to the attention of readers who may have not noticed it when it was first released.
I have also arranged Blog Tours for just the first book in a series that have all been published because readers who read and enjoy Book 1 will often buy and read the rest of the series.
A Blog Tour can be beneficial for any book at any time although there are no guarantees that a Blog Tour will result in sales.
I am not sure if this is in the remit of the question but if a reader finds and enjoys a book by a new author they will often read the backlist. Getting a book in front of a new reader will hopefully help the sales of all books by that author and it has a snowball effect as more readers will be picked up along the way. I think any book can be the start of a good thing so if an author has a ‘favourite’ in a series it is always worth starting with that one in the hope readers will connect to the enthusiasm.
How essential is it for an author to actively participate in the tour?
I wouldn’t say it is essential. I have arranged Blog Tour for publishers where the author doesn’t have a Social Media presence and they have been productive. However, what I have found is that readers like interacting with authors and Social Media is an excellent platform to enable that.
Also, many authors lead very insular lives involving many hours sitting writing. Interacting with readers via Social Media and email allows them to socialise virtually, which is good for everyone.
There are many book groups on Social Media (especially Facebook) that allow readers, authors and aspiring authors to achieve support and encouragement and many, many readers use these groups to get reading suggestions. We all have massive To Be Read (TBR) lists that just grow and grow.
What’s the one thing you’d like writers to think about when they decide to use a promoter?
Firstly, be aware that despite all our efforts there are no guarantees that a Blog Tour or other method of promotion is going to result in sales. Do try to find a promoter who is experienced in your genre. I try to promote many genres but my favourite genre is Crime Fiction and most of my contacts and network are Crime Fiction readers so that is the genre in which I get best results. However, it is also the biggest genre so finding a promoter for Fantasy or one of the other genres may be difficult. It is always worth joining groups for your genre and asking or looking around to see who is promoting that type of books. If you agree to a Blog Tour the organiser will need a copy of the book. If you are published your contract could prevent you giving out free copies of the book. Be careful who you give the book to. Most people are honest and really just want to help but there are some who pirate books so protect yourself and your work as much as you can.
How important is social media to authors?
In the current environment Social Media is a very important forum for book promotion. Now that Digital books are the norm we all need to take advantage of the vast marketplace that is Social Media. The more platforms you can access the better your book will do and interacting with readers and authors will encourage others to share posts, etc., therefore promoting your work.
How did you become as a book promoter?
Book promotion is just something that happened for me. I have always read books avidly - we used to swap them within the family. One day I was introduced to Goodreads and started finding my favourite authors on Facebook, learning about the importance of reviews along the way. I decided to set up a Blog as a place to keep all my reviews where people could find them and read my thoughts. Knowing that others could read my reviews and criticise them was really frightening at first but I found the positive comments far outnumbered the negative ones. My confidence grew along with my Social Media network and I began to be invited on Blog Tours. I realised that there was an opportunity to reduce my working hours and backfill with freelance work, which would enable me to work virtually and spend time with my ageing Dad. It didn’t all work out to plan and the changes were gradual, but I am now in a place where I am happy in my work-life balance.
I have worked with several Digital Publishers: Bloodhound Books, Joffe Books, Junction Publishing and also several successful self-published authors. I have experience in several areas of publishing. I am conversant with the Royalty System and I set up and managed the Stison system for Bloodhound Books for a while. I manage Social Media Promotion for Joffe Books. My duties with self-published authors vary from managing reader lists and communications, creating and managing paid adverts, calculating ROI, and proving whatever support services I can. This can include proofreading and basic editing (I am not qualified but my history as an analyst means I spot many errors that have been missed), formatting books for Kindle publication and of course promoting on Social Media. I have a wide range of skills that could be utilised in different areas of the publishing process and the all-important book marketing that follows it.
What sort of books do you like to read?
My preference is for Crime Fiction. I like fast paced books, in particular psychological thrillers. I am not a fan of books with a lot of descriptive text but I could be in the minority on that one as I know other readers do like to read about the setting and house décor, scenery, etc. I like grit and gore so definitely more thriller than mystery! That said, I do read other genres - I enjoy historical fiction and I like to read that genre as often as time allows. Via my work with Junction Publishing I have read and thoroughly enjoyed dystopian, fantasy, horror and other genres so nothing is ‘excluded’ really. If I like the synopsis I will read it and if requested I will try my hardest to fill Blog Tours and promote it to the best of my ability. I know that every author passionately believes in their work and I try to match their commitment.
Where can authors find you online?
I'm very easy to find, and happy to hear from any authors who think they might benefit from my services!