‘What’s your budget for promotion of your new book?’ There’s a question I didn’t know how to answer. I was enquiring about getting help with a video, but quickly realised I would have to plan, film and edit it myself or do without. And if I do without, what achievable strategies do I have for promoting the new book ‘Fallout’, the last in the Jessie Whelan trilogy that has the overarching title ‘Between the Mountains and the Sea’? For the second in the series – ‘Forgiven’ – which was published in June 2013 I arranged a ‘launch’ on the first day of a local festival, thinking that the regional media who would be in town anyway for the festival might be tempted to make an appearance. Wrong! Family, friends and neighbours turned up and we had a jolly time, but as a press launch it was a dismal (and quite expensive) failure. I admit I was disappointed, and decided that I probably wouldn’t do it again.
So here we are with the new book due out in about a month and no clear idea about a ‘promotion strategy’. One difference from last year is that I now have over 400 Twitter followers, and through Twitter’s exponential reach I can get the book details to people who might want them. Word of mouth will count for something too: the success of the first two parts of the trilogy means that there’s a fair head of steam around the publication of the final part. It’s hard to guess how many readers, many of them Cumbria locals, will beat a path to the bookshop door or my website to snatch their copy hot off the press, but it could be quite a few. Most of the paperback sales over the past two years have been in Cumbria bookshops, supplied through Hills of Workington who sell to almost every bookshop and tourist centre in the county. And sales have been seasonal too, with summer visitors looking for something to read which features the people, places and history of this great place where I live.
Once the paperback is out we’ll focus on the conversion to ebook and Kindle. My book designer John Aldridge will make sure the ebook looks as good as the hard copy – which is by no means automatic – and I hope I remember what to do after that. I’ve made it work twice already so that should be OK. Ebook sales have been steady but unspectacular. I know I could shift more if I dropped the price, but I do have a problem with selling something of merit, that took me a year to produce, for less than the price of a latte.
In the meantime, the height of my promotional activity today has been to design a poster for some of the local bookshops, which has taxed my Word skills to the uttermost. Once it was done, I took a photo and posted it on Twitter. I’m not expecting as many RTS as a selfie at a funeral, but who knows?