The official, commercial launch of The Hermit of Carmel is scheduled for March 1. It’s a busy time – controlled chaos – marked by minimal new writing. That in itself has proved frustrating. No matter how many professionals one might have working beside and behind them – some authors have many, while others go it alone – a writer has to play a proactive role in marketing his/her work. For example, here are some of the activities I’m engaged in, to prepare for the launch of Hermit.
- Book launch: Every book needs a launch day – that is the day it first becomes commercially available across retail and a variety of digital distribution platforms. The official public launch event for Hermit is set (tentatively) on March 5, at a very real location featured in Hermit: The Cypress Inn, in Carmel, CA. I’m excited about being back in Carmel again, and at a boutique hotel I absolutely adore. That drunken scene in Hermit, at The Cypress, was, by the way, somewhat autobiographical. One man and a decanter full of free sherry is dangerous!
- Distribution: Hermit can be purchased through such digital platforms (most of which allow for pre-order of the book) as Apple Books, Amazon Kindle, Kobo, Google Play Books, B&N Nook, and the latest subscriber and library platforms including Playster, 24Symbols, Scribd, Bibliotheca, Overdrive. It’s hard to say, at this early date, what retail stores will stock it. It’s in the Ingram and Baker & Taylor catalogue. Between the two, they’ve got the bulk of all retail stores covered for distribution. Chapters/Indigo, in Canada, is featuring Hermit in their online store already, but who can say if they will place a bulk order and carry it on their shelves. You can always call a store and ask for a copy to be ordered – in any store. Just give them the title and/or ISBN number.
- Book signings: A publicist (independent or internal at a publishing house) may play a role in contacting book stores in major markets to offer availability for book signings and or readings. I do that myself. I make the calls and pitch a book reading and/or signing. Then, I’ve got to go there to deliver. It’s a ton of effort for relatively few sales, but important to building my brand, and promoting the book. I’ll be focusing signings at both small, independent book stores (who doesn’t love them?) and chain operations in Toronto-area, and, during the first week of March, in northern California.
- Book reviews: Uggghhh. This is the toughest part. And be careful what you ask for. You go through the effort of engaging media and book bloggers/reviewers, with absolutely no guarantee that they will say positive things about your book. A poor review can have the opposite impact of what you intended, and be magnified across your target reader market. I think that the writing stand on its own though, and early test readings generated positive critique of the story arc, pace, character development, emotional impact and a few other metrics that I, as an author, sought feedback on. Still, writing is about as personal and subjective as any other art. One reader’s “literary masterpiece” is another’s bird cage lining.
- Book clubs. Some writers considered engagement with clubs to provide for very low return on investment. They’re right, of course. If you’re an author with a previous best seller, the boom clubs will wait patiently for your next book, and buy it en mass. If you’re an emerging writer like I, you’ve got to do a little work to promote your title. I’m engaging with book clubs and offering Hermit either for free or at wholesale, to try and get readers talking about it.
- Audiobook: I’m receiving auditions for narrators of the audiobook version of Hermit, for inclusion in digital platforms that provide this format, including Google Play, Apple iTunes, and Audible. It’s really cool listening to your words presented by someone else. I’ve otherwise only ever heard it in my own head!
- Promotion: Other forms of promotion I’m experimenting with, include the following. I’ll follow up, on another blog post, to provide some feedback and comment on their effectiveness.
- Goodreads. I’ve got a feature page now for The Hermit of Carmel (https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/43265709-the-hermit-of-carmel)
- NetGalley: NetGalley allows authors/publishers to present an advance review copy (ARC) of a new title to reviewers. HOC was up on the platform as of last week. Will have to wait to learn the outcome. (https://www.netgalley.com/catalog/book/155911)
- 49th Shelf. This is a Canadian platform to showcase new Canadian writer titles, and allow readers to find them: https://49thshelf.com/Books/T/The-Hermit-of-Carmel2
- Author pages: I’ve created an author page, with bio, on Apple Books, Amazon, Goodreads, NetGalley, BookNet Canada/BiblioShare, and Ingram Advance. Got to create a few more, this week, including one for Google Play.
- Twitter. I’m going to try @booksandthebear for Twitter promotion of the title on the first week in March. Will have to wait and see how successful it may or may not be. There are a few other promotional platforms I’m considering as well.
- Ingram Advance. Hermit is featured (at a cost, of course) in the new release catalogue that Ingram sends to every book retailer to whom they distribute. It’s in that for the month of January. Fingers crossed.
For those reading, thanks for joining me on this journey. I appreciate you. I’m happy to send a free copy of The Hermit of Carmel (print or ePub) to the first person who correctly identifies the source reference of the title for today’s post. Just send me an email (firstname.lastname@example.org) and you will be duly rewarded with literary riches.