"The Harder I work, the Luckier I get"


Welcome to an occasional series of guest bloggers.
Today our visitor is Charlie Cochrane, the well-known and award-winning author, notably of the Cambridge Fellows series of historical mysteries.

We hope you enjoy these posts as well as our usual fare!

~~~the Not Your Usual Suspects team~~~


People can’t buy your book if they don’t know it exists. (Well, thank you, Charlie, for stating the bleeding obvious.) I’ve come across several authors - no names, no pack drill - over the years who don’t seem to grasp that simple fact. They write their book, it gets published, then they wait for their royalty statements and wonder why sales are so low. The simple fact is that, for the majority of authors, they have to make an active and effective contribution towards their book’s marketing and that’s not just in our genre, it’s across the breadth of genres. You might say some authors are lucky, but I subscribe to golfer Gary Player’s viewpoint, when he said, “The harder I work, the luckier I get.”



There’s a checklist of basic things (apart from the usual blog, website, Facebook, etc) which cost us nothing but a bit of time, that every author should make sure they have in place. Amazon author pages for a start, with biog and links - at least for the country the author lives in and for Amazon.com. It also doesn’t take a lot of effort to have your blog, twitter, whatever, linked to automatically cross post there. Same applies to your page on Goodreads. And don’t make assumptions that these pages work automatically or by fairy dust. You’ll need to check that all your books are listed on amazon on your author page, especially if you’re in an anthology, and that your Goodreads page is linked to the books you wrote. It won’t happen on its own. There are other opportunities for one time setup, low maintenance online presence, such as Authorgraph, none of which are not technically difficult. Let’s face it, if I can do it, anybody can.

Now, you might say, “But, Charlie, I’ve got all that going, and I’m on twitter and Facebook and all the usual suspects,” (see what I did there?) “Now what?”

To which I'd reply that I think we’re just scratching the surface of the great world of book readers. There is no denying that the core of our genre - our loyal readers of LGBT books - is what supports us and keeps us going. Without them there’d be no business. But there are other potential readers out there. People who loved “The Song of Achilles” would adore Elin Gregory’s “Alike as Two Bees”, and viewers who swooned at Jack and Ianto might like the science fiction books by Blaine Arden or Anna Butler or Becky Black and the rest. And it’s not just that crossover. Readers who like historical fiction in general might enjoy Elin’s books for the settings, as cosy mystery fans would - I hope - enjoy my Cambridge Fellows or Lindenshaw mystery series for the crime element.

So how do we get our books in front of that wider audience? Well, if I had the answer to that entirely sussed, I’d be writing this from my beach house at Provincetown, but I can offer some ideas.

Think wider with your promotion - all aspects of it, not just where you send new release notifications. Do you only promote on sites with an LGBT flavour? What about the other genre elements? Let’s consider historicals as an example, although this applies to other types of book. Are you blogging about them in places where the focus is on the history bit of the story? Could you try to get your work reviewed on a site like the Historical Novel Society? Could you enter their awards? Could you join the organisation as an author, or find other places where you could network with authors/readers who share the non-LGBT “tags” for your book? Are there events you could attend (or better still be on a panel) that relate to that non-LGBT bit? Could you get together with local historical novelists and put on a panel at a local library or nearby literary festival?

There are lots of opportunities out there, and clearly we all need to pick and choose because our time is limited, as are our resources, and we’ll have to try and work out what will be cost/time effective for us as individuals. What works for one author may not work for another. I’d certainly recommend you make yourself marketable. What on earth do you mean by that, Charlie, you daft old thing? Well, we can all think of authors who have got themselves a bit of a reputation for being spiky, for always stirring up trouble. Likewise we can think of people who are a bit unreliable, who never do what they promise. There will be occasions they miss out on offers to do things because their reputation precedes them.

Be reliable, be pleasant, be the sort of person people want to work with!

Biog and links:

As Charlie Cochrane couldn’t be trusted to do any of her jobs of choice—like managing a rugby team—she writes. Her favourite genre is gay fiction, sometimes historical (sometimes hysterical) and usually with a mystery thrown into the mix.

She’s a member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association, Mystery People, and International Thriller Writers Inc., with titles published by Carina, Samhain, Bold Strokes Books, Lethe, MLR, and Riptide. She regularly appears with The Deadly Dames and is on the organising team for UK Meet.

To sign up for her newsletter, email her at cochrane.charlie2@googlemail.com, or catch her at:




Comments

Thanks for letting me come an play!
RJ Scott said…
You're so pleasant...

Awesome post :) and so true :)
Thanks, RJ. Takes one to know one.
Rita said…
Welcome to Not Your Usual Suspects. Great blog. Lots to thinks about. Thanks for posting.
Welcome, Charlie! Thank you for sharing your time, experience, and wisdom. :) Marketing and promo are definitely a challenge for many authors (like me). My difficulty is finding that delicate balance of time and energy (when I have writing and family obligations, too, as we all do!). It's a constant balancing act. ;)
It is indeed, Anne Marie. I wrote this post in between interviewing prospective teachers at the school where I'm Chair of Governors. We all learn to make use of every scrap of time, I guess.

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