Wasting time on Facebook while waiting for my next blog post topic to emerge from the murky depths of consciousness, I happened upon the Western Historical Romance Book Club.
I had been trying to find new ways to promote Willow Vale. The effects of the first flush of publicity for the novel seemed to be fading. I tried Facebook, both personal and author pages, and then Twitter. I joined two Twitter re-tweet groups, with negligible results. A few members were faithful re-tweeters of my message; others were beyond casual in their approach. After they added their Tweet to the main document so that it was sent out every day by the other members of the group, they were never heard from again. And then there were the writers of erotica, whose explicit messages I felt I could not send out from my account. And I wondered if I really wanted my message sent out from their accounts: Would it look to people who received their messages that I didn’t have a clue what I was doing – or else that I was so desperate I would try enticing erotica fans to read my Western historical novel?
So it was with keen interest I read a post on the Western Historical Romance group’s page. A new writer wanted to know how to get the word out about his novel, without having to spend a lot of money. Readers loved his book, and his reviews were good. But his sales weren’t great and he suspected it was because he was the only one doing any promotion, and he didn’t know what he was doing.
The answers came from some of genre fiction’s heavy hitters, and it was a revelation to me how generous these writers are with good advice.
The first answer, from a writer of fifteen novels in three genres, was simply to blog. Then she offered the man looking for exposure for his novel one of two open spots on her own blog!
Jacquie Rogers, who writes romance in three sub-genres, recommends the grass roots approach. She said “just making yourself available to sign will often sell books.” Besides appearances at organizations where members might be readers of her books, she sold some at McDonalds when her grandson told his friend that she was a writer, and his friend told his mom. Jacquie has two helpful books on promoting available on Kindle, on building your author platform and growing your audience.
Meg Mims, Western historical suspense author, recommends Goodreads. I usually have a giveaway of Willow Vale at least once a month on Goodreads, and just recently joined a few book groups on that site. I’ve gotten unsolicited 5-star ratings and reviews there, and am happy with the results.
Kathleen Rice Adams, author of Western historical romance and contemporary romantic suspense, advised writing and speaking “outside the book.” In other words, besides offering your novel to the usual review sites and bloggers, write for history blogs about what interesting topics your research has uncovered. She says to speak to historical societies, book clubs, special interest groups related to your book, and libraries — but not to “relentlessly flog the book.” If potential readers get to know you and trust your research, they’ll buy your book.
Debra Parmley adds that, ultimately, the book must sell itself. She says reviews are all well and good, but that she judges a book by its excerpts. Readers need a “taste of your writing” in order to decide if they like strawberry, butter pecan, or in Debra’s case and mine, Western historical romance.