Thursday 18 August 2022

Find your readers - by Lu Hersey

 As all writers know, most books get a very brief window of time in bookshops - if they make it there at all. There's also a limit to the time you can promote your book on social media without boring people stupid. The problem is there are too many people out there, writing too many good books.

Anyway, I'm currently still in the process of promoting my new book, Broken Ground - and the deal with my publisher means I'm doing all the marketing myself. I have very little idea how to go about it, so it's taking me a while and it's all a bit hit and miss. However, on the plus side, I've inadvertently found a whole new, niche group of readers along the way. From their very kind reviews, I've figured out that these people fall into the following categories:

1. People who are massive fans of Alan Garner, Susan Cooper or Penelope Lively books, and compare my book favourably with theirs. (I doubt those luminaries of children's literature would be overjoyed by these comparisons, but I am, so who cares.)  

2. Adult readers who enjoy magical realism, folklore or kitchen sink paranormal, and actively look for books in these genres online.

3. People obsessed with crop circles.

4. Pagans with an interest in ancient land goddesses.

5.Academics with an interest in folklore (or ancient land goddesses)

6. Any teens who've been given the book by one of the above (which is especially gratifying, as it was intended as a teen/YA book in the first place)

Anyway, the upshot is that instead of battling to get school visits, I'm being offered surprisingly different opportunities to publicise the book. The pagan moot in Norwich invited me to give a talk on my experience of working with the goddess Andraste (who features in the story).  Author Anna McKerrow conducted an interview with me for her Magical People series. Then the Glastonbury town crier, a huge fan of crop circles and drones, went as far as making a promotional book trailer for me (his idea entirely). 

Unfortunately the trailer he made is too big to post here, and I haven't been able to condense it (a marketing fail) - but I posted it on twitter if you're interested. Surprisingly, Twitter have added a warning to it - apparently the video 'may contain sensitive content'. (It mostly features a field of wheat, but maybe put on your tinfoil hat, just in case...)

My point is that publishing is a difficult industry, so be prepared to branch out in any direction that helps you sell your book. Try different approaches. Your new readers are definitely out there.

It's all just a matter of finding them.

Lu Hersey


Jenny Alexander said...

Brilliant post, Lu - thank you! One of the pleasures of doing a bit of work on your own promotion is you do find these surprising reader groups and they open up new opportunities, both in writing and outside, and one thing leads to another - it's exciting. Not necessarily lucrative, but self-published books and a devoted fanbase brought Kit Berry her traditional success as well as many joyful summer camps and lasting friendships. I can imagine a lot of fruitful new book ideas springing from these openings you've found already.

Claire Fayers said...

Great post, Lu. It's always a joy to find readers in unexpected places and these surprising connections can often lead to new ideas.

Odette said...

This is an encouraging post. Thank you. Originally I thought my book, 'Abigay's Farm' set in Herefordshire, would be popular in farming communities. I hope it is but I have heard of a few London children who are especially interested in reading about farm animals. I heard that one 11 year old boy asked his school librarian whether he could keep the book over the summer holidays "in case I go to the country and see farm animals" (!). I was pleased that he was a boy reader and didn't mind expressing such an "un-cool" statement to his school librarian.
I need to do much more marketing. Thank you Lu for the encouragement to keep trying!

LuWrites said...

Thanks everyone - think you're right about some of the openings leading to new ideas! Always worth finding new readers. x