OK, so perhaps you, like me, have written and published a FIRST novel. Maybe you’ve even produced a very good novel — which we all hope is true, of course. Or: you aspire to write a novel. (SIDE NOTE: it’s also amazing how many people come out of the woodwork to confess this to me nowadays, being the big shot published novelist that I am…).
Besides that one : once the book is out there in print, get ready for the same questions over & over from your friends, families, colleagues, or even relative strangers at readings or book-signings: “So, how’s it doing? How are sales looking?” Typical answer: “it’s still early…” “I’m hoping for a slow burn!” By which I mean (primarily): WORD OF MOUTH… viva voce, baby!
What determines sales? How does one go about helping to turn a novel into a bestseller (or what I like to call a “decent seller“)??? Well, I’ve thought about it more lately than ever — and by the way, if you have any tips PLEASE SHARE THEM WITH ME! Every writer hopes that their work will reach sympathetic readers. But how!? WORD OF MOUTH is my go to tactic, at present. If people love something, they tend to want to share it.
It’s the million dollar question!! Romantic dreams of producing something of a surprise hit like the Left Behind Series, the second best selling series in the history of book publishing, can die pretty quickly. Still, hope reigns: how about something that was turned down, over and over and over, but finally got out there and became the best selling book series of all time?? By an unknown single mom whose perseverance is by now legendary:
Or — dream big now — how about out-performing the best selling novel of all time — you know, the one that almost all writers turn their noses up to, and say yuck!?!?!?
(though truth be told, lots of us sneak a peek at Dan Brown — like me, to be honest. Yes, I love all Brown’s books — secretly… Please don’t tell my learned colleagues, OK??)
Sad to say there appears to be a great deal of naivete and winsome feelings out there about all this. YES: the name and size of a publishing company, getting some promotional budget, and reviews in heavy hitting journals, magazines, NPR, Oprah and the talk shows — I am not so naive to think that such Market Forces have no importance. They do; and for almost all first time novelists, they are VERY hard to come by. Even for someone with many other successful books in print — like me.
A terrific blessing of my own journey, one of the highs, was finally meeting the great folks at Blank Slate Press who were head over heels enthusiastic about The Hemingway Files, — and yes, getting it in print in a very nice and accessible paperback; however, there was no 6-figure advance; and no guarantees of 6-figure printings– no 100,000 copies first print run, nor the chance to see 3 dozen copies in every major bookseller from coast to coast — at least, not yet. If you think that sentence was long, you should try living through the experience that produced it… but by now, entering December of the first half year of being out there, a lot of really good folks have read, and have liked and even at times raved about, my new novel, The Hemingway Files. A lot of that has come from my consistent self-promotion — which honestly is not my cup of tea — but I believe in the book, so I try to muster some attention. Slowly but surely, the reviews are appearing — and that includes the now all-important Amazon.com reader reviews (feel free to post one with 6 stars!!!
Throughout it all, of course, I’ve been plagued by doubts — what if nobody DOES read it? Should I just throw up my hands to the “Market Forces,” like a spineless character in a Theodore Dreiser novel, and accept my naturalistic fate?? Is there anything any of us can do to help out old Hal & The Hemingway Files?
Emphatically. YES!! I really do think that, promotions aside, lots of people bought and read Harry Potter and Dan Brown novels due to good old fashioned word of mouth. And in my experience, I love to hear book titles from other avid readers whose judgment I trust — please tell me some good books I ought to be reading!!
I will end with a few ways you might help … because it’s pretty easy to give up and think only the big publishing companies can create a bestseller — or even a decent-seller. But look at The Shack — recently turned into a major motion picture:
The Shack (without debating its theology and/or its literary merits), represents one writer’s perseverance and the magic of word of mouth — how a good book gets passed from person to person. How it’s possible to beat those damnable Market Forces! Can such a thing happen with your book? Or, with The Hemingway File??
Well — power to the people! And for the small presses; be prepared to do a lot of your promotions (meaning — the dreaded, uncomfortable self-promotion). Or, sink a budget into hiring some help from a publicist.
Grass roots approaches? So: Here’s how YOU can help put The Hemingway Files on the bestseller list:
1. Call your local bookseller and ask them to stock The Hemingway Files;
2. Call your local libraries and ask them to order The Hemingway Files;
3. Repost this site’s blog entries and other postings about The Hemingway Files on Facebook, Goodreads, and elsewhere; then…
LAST BUT NOT LEAST!
4.Call your friends who are big shots in Hollywood and ask them to option The Hemingway Files as a film. Start with these people, please:
See you at the movies!! (wink, wink)