Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Publicity - and its effects?

At the beginning of November, I sent a brief press release to the local freebie newspaper about the publication of my latest novel. Just over a week later, I had a phone call from one of the reporters who asked me a lot of questions about my writing and I gave her my (somewhat rambling!) answers in return. A short email ‘conversation’ followed a couple of hours later and I sent her a photo.
The following week, my automatic ‘google alert’ for my name picked up some press releases, and I found the article about me on the newspaper’s website. Okay, that was good - except that I doubt many people actually visit the website. They wait for the freebie paper to be delivered, just as I do.
Two more weeks went by, but the article didn’t appear in the printed edition of the paper, which is delivered every week (either Thursday or Friday) to every house in my local area.
Oh, hold on, did I say it was delivered every week to every house? Yes, that’s usually the case. I get the paper every week - except for last week.
On Friday evening, about 9.30pm, a friend called -“Hey, you’re famous!”
“Am I? Why?”
You’ve guessed it. The one week I don’t get the paper, the article about me appears!
On Saturday, I rush around trying to find a copy (they’re not available in the shops). Daughter’s copy hasn’t arrived, friend who called me is out…I finally tracked one down mid-afternoon.
Here it is:
The paper goes to about 6,000 homes in the area (hmm, except mine of course, and presumably the others on that particular paperboy’s round!). So let’s say a rough figure of 5K houses (excluding other houses that might have been missed last week.)

'Great publicity!’ everyone says.

Yeah? By now everyone will have dropped the paper into their recycling box.

And the effect on sales? Okay, I didn’t expect millions, but one or two would have been good. Instead - zilch, zero, nada, nothing, not a single download and no queries on my website (the link was at the end of the article).

So much for publicity!

The only slightly positive result was that I took the report into the local independent bookstore on Monday (the one that wasn’t interested when I took my first book in, over a year ago). The owner there agreed to take a couple of copies of my latest book on a sale or return basis. A couple – two books! Not to go on display, you understand but ‘just in case anyone asks for them.’

Now I’m wondering how many people I can bribe to go into the shop and ask for my books!


  1. I agree that getting publicity doesn't always result in book sales. But I still think it's worthwhile to get your name known. I think that publicising a book or books is a long term commitment and that it works by a constant drip effect.

  2. Agree about the drip effect, Elizabeth - but a little rain shower would be good every so often!

  3. Advertising is cumulative, I'm told. Repetition is key. An article about your next release and the next, and the effect magnifies. YOu made headway with the bookstore owner...
    The hometown crowd is often the last to recognize accomplishment.

  4. Being realistic, Ana, two books under the counter at the local bookstore isn't really making any headway! And I know of a lot of writers who have had much more support from bookstores in their local areas than I have! So your last comment doesn't always apply! But, as Elizabeth has said, one has to persevere with the drip effect, however disheartening it is at times!

  5. I had the same experience, Paula. I had an article in the local e-newspaper that also ran in the suburban digest of the Chicago papers. It even had a picture. I then appeared in the next town over at a book event, where authors were sitting in retail stores, hopefully to sell books and bring in more customers. Nada. No extra sales noticed and only my friends and relatives stopped in to buy books.

    I think the romance buyers are more comfortable buying on-line. That's the excuse I'm comforting myself with. That way no one knows what they are buying and reading. I prefer that to thinking that my writing is being greeted by the world with a collective yawn of indifference.

    Keep at it and hopefully your sales will increase. At least writing the books gets those darn characters always talking in our heads to be quiet, right?

  6. Take the article and make copies. Add it to your publicity packet, which you use to get further publicity. Your publicity packet should include a bio, a list of all your books, links, blurbs, cover art and any publicity you get. Then you take that packet and try to get bigger newspapers, magazines and radio (also bloggers and reviewers) to cover you. The more you have, the more you get. Eventually, that will translate into sales. You can also publicize that your books are carried in that bookstore. And you may be able to get that local bookstore to do a signing for you.

  7. Fiona - it's consoling to know that other writers have had the same experience. Often people only write about their success stories and you're left wondering what you're doing wrong! That's a good point about romance stories, though, and people preferring to buy them online, rather than actually admit to the world that they read romance!

  8. Believe me, Jen, I've tried the larger regional newspaper and the local radio station - with no results!

  9. How fun to be in the paper! But I agree, publicity doesn't always equal sales. It's so frustrating.

  10. But, just to show it's now all doom and gloom-
    Today I just received this message on my blog from a reader: "Loved 'Her Only Option', Paula. Great read - strong characters and - above all, to me, a VERY authentic setting :-) One problem - wish I was there!! Seriously, though, I really enjoyed the book and look forward to the next one."
    And then, within a few minutes of getting that one, I found a new 5* review on Amazon from someone else: "Creates the atmosphere of Egypt and Nile cruises to give a well written mystery romance. Neve is a very appealing character and I did not want to finish the book and leave her. Well done Paula. "
    It's such a thrill to get comments like this, isn't it? Suddenly makes it all seem worthwhile!

  11. Hmm, 'now' in the first sentence should read 'not'!