Saturday, May 2, 2009

Book Pimpin'

Yeah, I've got Jay-Z's Big Pimpin' on my mental soundtrack while I write this. Hey, if I don't listen to the lyrics, it sounds great! But on to the point...

The fabu AztecLady wrote,

An author with ten titles under her belt or more will already have built at
least a small core following which will build up, and prompt sales of the older
titles as the new ones pick speed.

But the newbie author who has one book coming out one year and another the
year after? How does s/he keep her name out there so that, when that second book
hits the shelf, people actually remember that they were waiting for it?

Let me go backwards a bit with a personal example. Months ago, browsing through a bookstore, I decided I'd get a sure bet and a new author. There are a ton of authors that I haven't yet tried so how did I pick? Devon Monk's Magic to the Bone had a plug by Patricia Briggs on the front cover. I'm not sure what got me to read that original Briggs book, but it was like literary crack: I had to get another fix. Sometimes the authors' plugs leave you wondering, once you're done, if they've read the same book, but I was willing to take the chance.

As an aside, I could see the end coming from the earliest pages and knew it was going to piss me off to high hell. But it was a good book, nonetheless. Since you probably don't have that same particular neurosis (seriously, I'm over the top about this certain thing), if you're a genre fan, you should check it out.

There are a bunch of things I knew I'd do if --wait, power of attraction--that I will do when published: send copies to reviewers, do a signing at the local spec. fic. indie bookstore, maybe book a reading at the local library branch, get my friends across the country (oh, and lovely online buddies in OZ, Canada, and the U.K.) to order copies from their local stores, and actively push the blog.

Monk did something I hadn't thought of: she joined better known authors at Deadline Dames. I've seen other writers group together, of course. I catch Ann Aguirre posts over at Something Wicked and occasionally end up reading something good by someone else. When I get around to checking LiveJournal, I watch the Fangs, Fur, & Fey community (and I see as I go to grab the link that Monk is there, too) mostly with an eye on joining when the time comes...

This is how it worked for me: got the book, enjoyed it (even with my reaction to the ending), forgot about it other than thinking that I do need to tell others to enjoy it. Toni Andrews friended me out of the blue.* I followed a link of hers to Deadline Dames, saw that Monk's second book will be out soon, and immediately started itching to get my hands on it. Once there, I realized I've read many of the books (Keri Arthur's Destiny Kills is by my bed waiting to be read and Tempting Evil, already read, is inches away from me as I type) and am familiar with *most* of the names. Now, I'm practically bouncing in my seat to get three books by new-to-me authors, two books by authors I've read but hadn't been thinking about, and the next Monk book.

Of course, not every reader will think like that, but many will. That's a lot of marketing for the price of a shared blog.

*This friending thing is brilliant. I followed an author and a reviewer to Facebook. My earliest activity there was clicking on a 'friend request', thinking, "Who the hell is this?" and following the link to an author whose request I then accepted. I've bought several books from this and greatly expanded by TBR list. Since they're on my flist, every time I catch one of their updates, I think either "I love his/her writing" or "I've gotta remember to get his/her book."


azteclady said...

(Thank you for the mention, but it's your fault ;-) You write thought provoking stuff, you know)

Definitely, sharing a blog or blogs with other (preferably not all newbies themselves) authors is a great idea, and posting an article once every week or two (have you read The Bradford Bunch, for example?) shouldn't be terribly taxing, time-wise, while keeping one's name in front of the audience.

However, this is again limited to the online reading community, and while I adore many of them and enjoy an even larger number, we are but a fraction of the reading public. How to reach *them*?

Conventions, right or wrong, get some professional media coverage, for example, and many a bookseller at the very least stops by a big signing. They are costly, though, and for a newbie, are they truly worth the investment?

An Again said...

However, this is again limited to the online reading community, and while I adore many of them and enjoy an even larger number, we are but a fraction of the reading public. How to reach *them*?
First cup of coffee--fair warning of how ill thought out this may be. My initial instinct is, "It's 2009. We're a huge fraction of the reading public." I'm not just thinking of people my age and younger who spend a good bit of our lives online, but also of my parents' retiree generation. More people seem (I have no scientific data) to be online than off.

I think everything can be broken up into fractions. You mention conventions...Comicon and Romantic Times draw huge crowds. Because of my online connections, I know a few people who attend. I know of many, many more who don't. A lot of people aren't going to read news stories about conventions they can't afford to attend. Still, those who attend will come home and talk about the great books they got turned onto and their friends will buy. They'll blog about the books and the authors (someone should write a detailed account of the urban fantasy vs. paranormal romance plannel at RT. Please. ::bats lashes:: ), yeah, they'll blog about them and strangers across the world will be interested.

When you get right down to it, I don't think there's any replacement for word of mouth. Before there was an internet, pre-teen girls coaxed me into reading V.C. Andrews. The differences between then and now are (in my life) they're women in their 30s getting me to read YA instead of young girls getting me to read stuff way too old for us, with the internet, it spreads even faster, and the resulting movies come out sooner and are way better than Flowers in the Attic.

I'm not sure that any amount of advertisng will replace writing an infectious story that people want to get other people read.

azteclady said...

"I'm not sure that any amount of advertisng will replace writing an infectious story that people want to get other people read."Agreed, one hundred percent.

However, if you sold your rights to that story to a small publisher and no one even knows it exists...

Or if a few people know and start talking it up, but no one can find it...

Then what?

An Again said...

Book clubs.

My fall-back remains the internet. If there comes a time in our lives when it's no longer a free or relatively inexpensive (depending on what we're doing with it) source of mass advertising, I figure I'll have bigger things to do than promoting my book like fighting zombies or surviving nuclear winter.

But I'm thinking back to my experiences with Laurell K. Hamilton and Keri Arthur. I bought the first Anita Blake book, didn't like it within a few pages, put it down and forgot about it. I repeated the process twice more as each new book came out. They *seemed* like something I'd like; just what I was looking for after Mercedes Lackey's D.T. books, but they weren't doing it for me. Since I never remembered the name of the author, I had the same excitement to buy when I saw the write-up of a book club edition of books 5 & 6. Once I started reading, I recognized that I'd yet again bought "one of Those", but I had a long, dull overnight shift. By morning, I was hooked and went back to read the earlier ones. Granted, she was already on store shelves and it was a convoluted journy to becoming a fan, but that's what reminded me of finding Keri Arthur.

She wasn't on in stores, or not the ones I shopped at. I'd never heard of ImaJinn to go looking for their books. But when I saw the club write-up with all the supernatural elements I craved set in Australia, I bought immediately.

So there's an offline way to get your books seen. The problem remaining is that they're just a fraction of the book buying public.

Anonymous said...

To be fair, I really don't know. I just put up my own website, though I don't have representation for the book yet. It seemed important to have it ready to go when (I refuse to say if anymore) the time comes that I need it. Twitter is also a big thing for me. I have friended some big authors and a lot of up-and-comers like myself. I'll buy their books when they come out, and if I like them, I'll tell everyone. My experience is that if people know you are a writer (and especially if they like your stuff - as you mentioned with the Briggs quote), they heed what you have to say about books more than they would someone else. So, I say pimp yourself to readers, but pimp yourself to other writers too.

azteclady said...

Book clubs? Well, I wouldn't know, as I don't belong to any :sheepish:

I agree that if other authors recommend your work you get a lot of exposure, but I would be careful how the pimping to those authors is done. After all, they are readers first.

Lurking at their blogs first, building an acquaintance with them, etc. before springing a "I'm wonderful, pimp my book!" on them, should be mandatory ;-)

Anonymous said...

Oh, yeah, not recommending jumping in randomly with a "read my book" to a big time author. Try to get to know a couple, because they might be willing to help you out when the time comes, but I'm talking more about not-yet-published or soon-to-be-published or one-book-on-the-shelves-published people. People that you might meet on Twitter or something and become friends with before they hit the big time. They are still writer/readers with friends and the writer part is as important as the reader part ;-)

And if they don't want to read your book? Who cares, you've lost nothing and potentially gained a friend. All in all, not a bad thing.