- Susan Doherty
My novel, A Secret Music was published with a small independent press in Toronto. They had almost no budget for publicity. I contacted the printing press and ordered 50 copies to use as promotional material. I wanted my book to stand out from all the other books the media was receiving, so I wrapped each copy in vintage sheet music (the book is historical fiction) which I found at a second hand shop. I tied the novel with thin black ribbon simulating the notes and the staff paper. Next I made postcards of my book jacket. This can be done very inexpensively through a number of online sources, and triples as a thank you card, invitation, and bookmark. Be creative.
I made a spreadsheet of every single media outlet in Montreal: radio, TV, magazine, and newspapers. I called each business to ascertain the contact name. I hand-delivered my wrapped book with the postcard as my business card. Here is the most important point. I prepared a list of questions in advance that the interviewer could ask, making it easy, and interesting, for them to want to review my book on air or in print.
I called every library within 200 miles of my house, and asked to do a book talk. If they agreed, I brought books to sell. As the room was filling up, I ran a simple power point of dozens of old images representing the time period and the characters. I gave two signed copies to each library that invited me to speak. Three of the libraries ended up buying ten copies for their “book in a bag” book club selection. In the gift shop at the New York Public library I found socks that were printed as old library cards (They also have pencil socks). I gave each librarian a pair of the socks after my book talk. Afterwards I always send thank you notes.
In a competitive market, any efforts to differentiate will matter.
As I began to get interviews, I created a file with the links to each review. That generated more reviews, and more requests from book clubs.
My last two suggestions are these: say yes to every book club invite. Readers love to meet the author. As well, you bring special insights and character motives to life when a group (with hopefully divergent ideas!) discusses the themes and plot points.
Lastly, send your book to English teachers with a teacher guide included. Again, make it easy for people to say yes. Follow up.
Nowadays, even the big publishing houses have limited marketing budgets. Be prepared to put yourself out there. I guarantee it will generate book sales.
A Secret Music is Susan Doherty Hannaford’s debut novel. A Secret Music is currently available at Amazon.ca but will soon be available at Amazon.Com and Barnes and Noble in the U.S. Susan worked at Maclean’s Magazine. After Maclean’s, she worked for a digital publishing company in Paris, freelancing for The International Herald Tribune, La Tribune de Genève, and the Independent in London. Back in Canada, she studied creative writing at University of Toronto, Concordia University, and was mentored by award winning novelist Sandra Birdsell through the Humber School for Writers. Her volunteer affiliations include: the YMCA, the Douglas Institute and she is a board member of the Royal Conservatory of Music, the Quebec Writer’s Federation and Nazareth House, a shelter for the homeless. She is currently writing and researching her second book, The Ghost Garden, the story of an Ottawa woman’s life-long struggle with schizophrenia. Her passions include music, mental illness, fitness and living a purposeful life.