Thursday 22 March 2018

Passive Promotion, by Dan Metcalf

I have new book in the pipeline which brings me to the age-old quandary of the independent writer – how much time to I devote to promoting and marketing the thing? Should I go all-out and promote like crazy or simply get on with the next book? Try as I might I can’t seem to reconcile in my head that these two very different disciplines – writing and promoting – are part of the same job. I’m a writer and therefore I must do both, but they feel so polar opposite that they may as well be separate; one involves locking myself in a room with a laptop and the other has me out in front of whole schools, acting like a buffoon. Jekyll and Hyde had it easy.

So I have a few things set up that might help market my book while I slave away over a hot laptop (seriously, it gets mega-hot. I think the fan’s broken). First is a twitter account which I have set up to autotweet with promo messages. The book is called Dino Wars and so I have collated 100 or so of my favourite dinosaur jokes ('Why did the dinosaur cross the road? Because the chicken hadn't evolved yet!") and set up a set-it-and-forget-it spreadsheet which will tweet out at whatever frequency I desire (currently every 6 hours – don’t want to over-do the auto tweets or peeps start to unfollow). I follow them up with a hashtag #dinowars and a link to a landing page – a page on my website that has the blurb of the book, an amazon pre-sale link and a place to subscribe to my newsletter.

I have also pre-scheduled my facebook page to post an image twice a week. Mostly these are images I made on the free tool Canva using review quotes from lovely people who allowed my publishers to send them proof copies. (Some I made on free graphic program Inkscape) 
It also helps to have nice, eloquent friends and reviewers to send them to.

I’m friends with a fantastic local animation company, Yellow Mouse Studios, which have created an amazing poster: at first glance it is just the cover of the book, but scan it with an augmented reality app and the graphics come alive!

This can be put up in bookshops or sent (even by email) to schools to print out for their own libraries and book corners.

I made a book trailer that hopefully does a lot of the talking for me; this was made by grabbing the images by the brilliantly talented Aaron Blecha from the proof PDF, importing them into Windows Movie Maker and layering over a piece of music from the free music archive. The end result can then be uploaded to YouTube, Twitter, Facebook and Linked In, as well as featured on my own website as an embedded video.

I’ll also be making a small video soon where I read the first chapter of the book, something I do with my phone (a dodgy Samsung android jobby – no iPhones here). I’ve heard that live video is the way to go for marketing – just hit ‘go live’ or whatever on Facebook and your followers will be notified. I’m still gathering the nerves for that one.

A couple of months ago I appeared on a podcast to promo the US editions of my Lottie Lipton books and I plan to go back on there (if they, or anyone else for that matter, will have me). Podcasting is a growth area and one which writers can’t afford to ignore.

And freebies. Everyone loves freebies, right? So on my website (and promoted on twitter, FB etc) will be a free Dino Wars Trump Game, featuring all the characters from the first book and their stats for people to print out and play.
So why am I telling you all this? The cynical person would say that it is to show off about my books and my promo techniques, but they’d only be 40% correct. The point is, I’m doing all these things and they were 100% free. Yes, I got lucky with the augmented reality poster, but someone wishing to copy this could just as easily send their normal poster to schools. With all this available at our fingertips and for no money whatsoever, a writer would be crazy not to take advantage of the passive promotion tools at our disposal.
Dan Metcalf is a Children's Author from Devon. His new book is (if you hadn't guessed) Dino Wars and will be out from Maverick Books on the 28th April. Check out


Sue Bursztynski said...

Sounds like you’re doing fine, without your publishers contributing much beyond review copies. (Probably just as well, as they don’t ever do much after your book is out). Technology is a great resource! Especially if you know how to use it. I have to admit, I could do a book trailer via PowerPoint or something equally simple and read on YouTube and maybe even find a way to make posters printable on line, but I never did get the hang of auto on Twitter and refuse to get Facebook. So good on you!

Penny Dolan said...

Dan, this is an amazingly helpful post, full of all sorts of ideas. Great stuff - and what a lot of promo energy too.

Dan Metcalf said...

Thanks Penny and Sue! My Dino Wars Freebies are now online here:

Anne Booth said...

That's amazing. Thank you so much for sharing all these tips. How did you make that game connected to your book? That's so cool. Thnks for all the ideas and good luck!