On Sunday March 1st, A Man Made Entirely of Bats burst forth unto this world, shrieking and pissing furiously as literally dozens of onlookers watched in horrified awe. Let me say this about the entire publishing experience: it’s been an unmitigated joy. I feel so warm and protected by all the people who have supported me and my tiny rabies-filled baby. From the good people at Spineless Wonders, to all the amazing folk who bought a copy of Bats during our pre-release drive and are currently staring baffled at my personalised message, to the gorgeous hordes that came to my launch, to the people who have written nice things about the book… it’s just all been amazing. Thank you.
But there’s been a kind of unstoppable momentum up until this moment, all aiming towards the publication date. I’ve been annoying on social media, I’ve been wandering around thrusting my book into people’s faces. But the fact that it’s now published and in some bookshops and online doesn’t mean that it’s all stopped. Oh no, now it’s just began.
For me, I’ll be doing a lot of things. I’ll be doing readings and events and festivals. I’m heading down to Canberra later this month for the Noted Festival, I’ve got some exciting events at Giant Dwarf next month, doing something AWESOME with the Sydney Writers Festival, a comedy reading with some of my favourite authors at Better Read Than Dead in April… I’m going to be unstoppably in your face. That is what I’m going to be doing next. It’s not that I expect to make money from this collection of weird short fiction – I’m not trying to support my starving rescue dogs from the proceeds, or buy myself a white leather tuxedo. But I worked really hard on this book, and I’m proud of it, so I want to make sure that as many people as possible read it. I want to make sure I don’t sit idly by while it slowly fades away into nothing. Maybe it will be only read by a few dozen of the best people on earth, but it’s not in my nature to be complacent about anything to do with stuff I’m passionate about.
There was a great article in Seizure about what people can do to support a debut book, the weakest and most likely to die of all the books. I suggest you go and read it, because it’s just wonderful and 100% true: http://seizureonline.com/agony-aunt-friendly-fan/
Sometimes it is hard to know how to show support for the writers in your life. You toast them at the launch, slap them on the back or tell them how much you like their book. Don’t get me wrong, this is good moral support but it is very likely that the author you know is sweating it out. They are sitting at home staring at a crack in the wall that has begun to symbolise their life, because after years of slog, submission, acceptance and then sweet, sweet publication, nothing much really happens.
You may see a review or two, even in the serious literary supplement of a serious weekend newspaper, and assume that they are now your famous and successful author friend. This is most likely not true. From the outside they appear upbeat but their ears are ringing with deafening silence, punctuated by the odd review or mention.
So what can family, friends and fans do to help? Plenty.
This is what has rung true for me – it took me ages to realise that just because my published friends were famous to me, famous-to-me is not a position that sells books. One of my favourite things to do is only give Australian/friend books to people for Christmas. It’s an easy thing to do, and the recommendation that comes with it usually means the gift means more.
Anyway, this article has a list. I’m going to post this list.
So basically it is quite a challenge to get noticed as an author and the one you know is probably too bashful or prideful to ask for help. Here are some things that any friend, family or fan of an author can do to help raise their profile and get that clap-o-meter to move:
- Buy a copy at the launch
- Buy a copy from a bookshop
- Buy a copy from a bookshop that doesn’t stock it and have them order it
- Sneakily move your friend’s book to face-out when bookshop staff aren’t looking
- Bring some friends to the book launch. There will, after all, be free wine and maybe even some cheese.
- Depending on how close you are to your author, you may like to offer assistance to plan and execute the book launch (since this is often the author’s responsibility these days).
- Say something online; Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads, to name a few*
- If you’ve got a blog, write a blog post or run an interview; after all, you’ve got access to an author!
- Take your author out for a drink. Ask them how the publicity trail (trial) is going and encourage them to keep going, to reach out to more bookshops, libraries and bloggers if they seem to have lost steam. Which they may well have, because trying to get attention for their book may seem like banging their head against a particularly unresponsive brick wall.
- Brainstorm networks for the author to tap. These could be local schools if the book has relevance, media contacts or events planners – to name but a few. Publishers are trying to promote a roster of books all year round – an author’s networks are invaluable.
Such a good list! In my job as Digital Marketer, we’ve found that reviews on Goodreads and Amazon etc are just really important. They’re the internet version of word of mouth. And word of mouth is king. Anyway, watch this space if you want to find out deets of any of these events and stuff, and also now that things have calmed down a little bit, I’ll start actually writing some shit for this blog, instead of endless self promotion. Speaking of which:
But seriously. Thank you SO MUCH to everyone for all the support. You’re all golden dolphins swimming in the sun.