Book Promotion Tip of the Week #15: Win Nobel Prize for Literature

Note to self:

Screen Shot 2013-10-16 at 9.52.13 AMI’ve been reflecting on this issue in the past week. The only way I know of to win the Nobel Prize for literature is to write the best you can, and to keep publishing what you write… for decades. Even though attempting to win the Nobel seems like the slowest route imaginable to major book sales, and offers little satisfaction to the “I want it now” mentality from which most of us increasingly suffer, it may be the only route that offers any real satisfaction to those of us who are truly called to be writers.

In the past few months I have had absolutely no time to work on my own stuff (hence my absence from here. And the good news is that it has all been positive work that has kept me away from my creative-writing work – and that I see hope for a strong return on the horizon now). During these past few months I have noticed that I have not found myself longing to be a best-selling writer (i.e., to be rich and famous), I have found myself longing to write. Just write. That’s all. Whether it sells or not has been immaterial in the longing … I’ve just longed to write.

However, I have also had some interesting book promotion ideas during my hiatus, and I’ll be back to share them soon. Along with a wind-up column on the subject that summarizes what I have learned so far about book promotion.

In the meantime…

Thanks to Alice Munro’s win, it is not only interest in her writing, but interest in short stories in general that has picked up of late. (Maybe even short stories by women writers who live in Canada? One can hope. Or at least I can.)

I should therefore point out that I too have a traditionally published short-story collection, and that copies are available. It is entitled Cool (River Books 2001). It is out of print and I have not yet re-released it for sale online, but you can send me an email and tell me you want it and I will send you a copy. It is $10 plus postage and handling. Here are the covers, front and back:

I also have several stories written towards my next collection, which will be entitled Machisma.

Till soon….

Book Promotion Tip of the Week #4: December 26, 2012

Gold starCheck out the competition

Go to amazon.com, Indigo Books or Barnes and Noble (or all three) and track down the top ten books in your literary category (or categories). Analyze what their authors or publishers are doing to promote their books — e.g., do they have websites, giveaways, videos?  Are they on GoodReads? LibraryThing? Shelfari? Which of their techniques are ones that you have not yet put to use, that you might consider?

Don’t be a snob or a know-it-all, as I was when I started on this exercise – which I found online in a couple of places in slightly different versions (one said, “Check out the top 100 books in your category.” Who has time for that?)

The Whole Clove Diet is listed under “domestic fiction,” “humorous fiction,” and “literary fiction,” among other topics. When I checked out the leading ten sellers in the first category, first I came across a series of books for which I have no explanation for the unbelievable sales figures (that would be Fifty Shades of Grey and its progeny and their boxed sets. I tried to read the first one in the series, but found it too badly written to hold my interest — even in the allegedly “erotic” parts. People should check out some actual erotic literature, by Anaïs Nin and others). I thought I could learn nothing from E.L. James as she obviously knows something I do not know about the universe.

Another of my top competitors is Alice Munro, who could write even a very bad book (which I am sure she hasn’t) at this point in her career and still be in the top-ten list: how could I learn anything about book promotion from her?

Yet another was an author named Garth Stein who has apparently written a book from the point of view of a dog. Hmm. Maybe not him, either.

Besides having written books nothing like mine, all of these authors had been published by traditional presses (granted after self-publishing first, in the case of James). I was sure part of their rise to the top of the bestseller lists had to do with promotions departments and reviews in major media.

But when I bit the bullet and investigated more closely, I found that each of these authors did have something that I don’t have — that I could get quite easily — and that is a listing on Wikipedia. In addition, Stein has a video on amazon, and on his website and on YouTube. I guess I could create one of those. The more I looked, the more ideas I found.

One promotional idea I just loved came from another top seller in the “humour” category — Rachel Joyce, author of The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry. She has a map on her website where readers can “pin” their locations in order to be part of the map of readers who have “seen” Harold. Very clever. And adaptable, no doubt, to many other books.

So with an open mind, and keeping my envy in check, I have come up with three promotional activities that I could pursue with little effort, simply by checking out what the competition is doing to promote their books and themselves.