This is a post for intrepid emerging writer MH, née Cross. So, you want fame, fortune, and glory? Does the applause of the world beckon? Go for it, your millennia awaits! On your way, here’s a few tips. It’s a long journey. Maybe you already know this. But did you also know the book business is a dog eat dog world? They say self-publishing has revolutionized publishing. A new Gutenberg. The AirBnB and Uber. Sure, you can trust the word on the street: things are changing. But now every Tom, Dick, and Harry has put a book into circulation (in 2015 alone, self-published authors purchased 727,000 ISBN numbers). The competition rises in lockstep with the new opportunities.
“No problem,” you say. “My book will be a gooder.” Well, I would expect nothing less! To be the best, however, is not good enough. You also need to announce to the world that your book exists and that it is better than sliced bread and bigger than the Beatles.
Writing the book only constitutes half the task. Marketing is the other half. Here’s an overview of my marketing efforts. You’re writing in another genre, but your marketing efforts will be equally as critical. Your genre is, if anything, more competitive.
Academic Journals, Literary Journals, and Magazines
Reviews help build up buzz. I’ve sent a review copy to these publications. With each review copy, I also attach a book info sheet and a cover letter. The cover letter is tailored to each publication. For example, in the cover letter to academic journals, I emphasize the conferences I’ve attended. But in the cover letter to magazines, I emphasize how lay readers will appreciate a new book on theatre.
The task of sending out review copies involves research. First, find out which magazines or journals might be interested in reviewing your book. Then write to them. Keep in mind that some publications receive thousands of books a year. It’s a competitive process. Fingers crossed on this one, because, as you can imagine, the costs quickly add up! Postage for each review copy costs $17.50 to the US, between $12-17 in Canada, and $22+ overseas. This, of course, doesn’t include the cost of the book itself. In small runs (150 copies), my price for the book is $16 (CDN). It helps to have a war chest built up for these expenses.
American Book Review (USA)
American Journal of Philology (USA)
American Literature (USA)
American Theatre Magazine (USA)
BC BookWorld (Canada)
BC Studies (Canada)
Broken Pencil Magazine (Canada)
Bryn Mawr Classical Review (USA)
Canadian Literature (Canada)
Capilano Review (Canada)
Cinema Journal (USA)
Canadian Theatre Review (Canada)
The Classical Journal (USA)
Comparative Drama (USA)
The Drama Review (USA)
Essays in Criticism (USA)
The Fiddlehead (Canada)
FreeFall Magazine (Canada)
Hamilton Review of Books (Canada)
Island Writer Magazine (Canada)
Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism (USA)
Journal of American Drama and Theatre (USA)
Journal of Contemporary Drama in English (Germany)
Journal of Dramatic Theory and Criticism (USA)
Journal of Hellenic Studies (UK)
Journal of Medieval and Early Modern Studies (USA)
Journal of Popular Culture (USA)
Library Journal (USA)
Literary Review of Canada (Canada)
The Malahat Review (Canada)
Modern Drama (Canada)
New England Theatre Journal (USA)
New Theatre Quarterly (UK)
New Letters Magazine (USA)
NJ: Drama Australia Journal (Australia)
Nineteenth Century Theatre and Film (USA)
Performance Research (UK)
Philosophy and Literature (USA)
Rain Taxi (USA)
Quill and Quire (Canada)
Southern Theatre Magazine (USA)
subTerrain Magazine (Canada)
Theatre History Studies (USA)
Theatre Journal (USA)
Theatre Research in Canada (Canada)
Theatre Research International (USA)
Theatre Survey (USA)
Times Literary Supplement (UK)
Valparaiso Poetry Review (USA)
Paid advertising also helps get the word out. I always see people reading BC BookWorld on the ferries, so this was a no-brainer. Brown Alumni Magazine was a second choice because it’s good to support your alma mater. The Goodreads Giveaway is interesting: you pay Goodreads $119 (USD) for the privilege of giving away x books to Goodreads members. Members, in turn, enter a lottery to win these x number of books you’re giving away. When they enter, they put your book onto their reading shelf, which generates publicity. When the contest is over, you send out x number of books (at your own expense, of course) to the winners. The winners then read your book and hopefully give you a Goodreads review, which generates more publicity.
The fortunate thing about sending complimentary books to the Goodreads winners is that no cover letter is required. This means I can use Amazon or Barnes & Noble to send out the copies. If you’re a Barnes & Noble or Amazon Prime member, the postage for sending out books is covered. I used Amazon and B&N to send the winning copies–since shipping is free, the cost is significantly less than if I were to package and post myself. Incidentally, I included 25 books in my Goodreads Giveaway. The Giveaway ran for a month, and 1100 Goodreads members signed up for a chance to win a book.
Brown Alumni Magazine Fact, Fiction & Verse Column
Reviews help potential readers decide. On Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and other sites, there’s two types of reviews: customer reviews and professional reviews. Both types are helpful for readers. Kirkus and IndieReader reviews fall under the professional category. They cost a pretty penny. And just because you pay doesn’t guarantee a good review!
The cool thing about the IndieReader and Kirkus review is that they distribute your review to Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and other sites as a professional review. There’s a lot of dialogue on whether paid reviews are worth it. I believe they are 100% necessary. After all, your book will be competing with books published by traditional presses. And books by traditional presses will definitely be professionally reviewed. If the competition does it, then you should do it too.
NetGalley is the professional equivalent to Goodreads. By listing your book, a network of professional reviewers can request free review PDF or ePub review copies. You can either list directly on NetGalley or through a coop.
Xpresso Book Tours (NetGalley Coop)
Book Review Blogs
These are avid readers who blog about books they’ve read. You can find a directory of these book lovers broken down by genre and specialization online with Google searches and in print in The Book Reviewer Yellow Pages by David Wogahn.
Bound 4 Escape
Donovan’s Literary Services
Empty Mirror Magazine
Impressions in Ink
January Gray Reviews
Library of Clean Reads
Livres et Biscuits
Musings from an Addicted Reader
My Tangled Skeins Book Reviews
The Serial Reader Blog
TicToc Book Reviews
Words and Peace
Competitions are another source for publicity. Ideally, you would be able to enter your book into the competition before it gets printed. That way you can get your accolades incorporated onto the front or back cover. But this isn’t always the case.
It costs between $45-$150 (USD) to enter each competition. Some competitions charge more. Those were too rich for my blood. You get a personalized email from the folks at the IndieReader, Wishing Shelf, and Eric Hoffer Awards acknowledging your entry. That’s a nice touch.
I don’t know how many direct sales winning competitions will garner you. To me, the competition seems like another tool you can use to market your book. For example, if you win x prize, you could note that in your blog, get it printed on the front or back cover of your book, or include this in the book’s description on Amazon and Barnes & Noble.
Here are the competitions I entered. Like everything else, the entry fees add up quickly! It helps if you’ve budgeted the proper funds to enter the competitions before your book goes to print. Keep in mind that, on top of the entry fee, you’ll need to post one or two (and in some cases four!) books to the competition.
Colarado Independent Publishers Association EVVY Awards
Eric Hoffer Book Award
Foreword Indies Book Awards
IBPA Benjamin Franklin Awards
Indie Book Awards
IndieReader Discovery Awards
International Rubery Book Award
MLA Mina P. Shaughnessy Prize
MLA Prize for Independent Scholars
National Indie Excellence Awards
Nautilus Book Awards
New Apple Book Awards for Excellence
Next Generation Indie Book Awards
Readers’ Favorite Book Reviews and Award Contest
Whistler Independent Book Awards
Wishing Shelf Book Awards
Writer’s Digest Book Awards
It’s never too early to build up your social media. I created this blog devoted to the writing and publishing process over three years before the book came out. It’s hard to plan that far out, but you will succeed if you plan for success. If you tell the world that you’re a writer and your book is coming out soon, well, chances are you will succeed. I know it’s hard because we all harbour doubts. Practise psychological warfare with yourself to eradicate these doubts. You will succeed.
Reach out to local media. Give yourself an internet presence. Shop yourself to the local bookstores. If you’re able to get yourself into Bolen Books or Munro’s Books, great! Your book on the shelves is like a free advertisement. Even better, when readers take it off the shelf, it’s an advertisement that pays you!
Here’s a list of social media, media, and bookstores that proudly stock my book.
melpomeneswork.com (my blog where I talk about writing and publishing)
risktheatre.com (another blog where I promote my book, click here)
ABC BookWorld (a list of BC authors, click here)
BC BookLook (article, click here)
Amazon Authors Page (click here)
Goodreads Author Page (click here)
Join local and national writing clubs. The more you help others, the more you help yourself. The Victoria Writers’ Society publishes Island Writer Magazine. They review members’ books. This is a terrific source for local buzz. If you’re part of the Writers’ Union of Canada, you can put this on your resume or on your cover letter when you send out review copies to magazines and journals.
Finally, join a local book club. I did. The next book our book club will be reading is my book. I love it.
Victoria Writers’ Society
Writers’ Union of Canada
Local Book Clubs
Here you are, I hope you find one or two takeaways that will help you along the way. See you on the New York Times Bestseller list! Think big.
Until next time, I’m Edwin Wong, and I do Melpomene’s work by going big, or going home.