I’m on pins and needles.
If my breath was any more bated I would be fish bait.
The creatures in my stomach feel more like bats than butterflies.
Thieftaker is to be released tomorrow. If you haven’t already ordered a copy, I hope you’ll buy one. If you read it and enjoy it, please leave a review at Amazon and/or Barnes and Noble. If there is a library in your town or at your school, please ask them to carry the book. Tell a friend about it. Tell two. Tell ten. Many thanks.
In the months leading up to this moment, I have been almost completely focused on promoting the book and finding new ways to get people interested in my work. And I’ve learned a few things along the way.
1. Using Twitter, Facebook, and other social media as promotion tools is incredibly time-consuming, but also incredibly effective. I have slowly — SLOWLY — figured out how to use social media, particularly Twitter, which I initially found pretty confusing. Not the mechanics of it — that couldn’t be easier — but rather how to make it something more than a series of inane conversations taking place 140 characters at a time. As I’ve grown more accustomed to both Twitter and Facebook, I have come to see them as something other than megaphones, which is how I used them initially. What makes them work is the interaction, the reciprocity. Bling helps, too: Posting pictures, artwork or other cool stuff to look at grabs people’s attention. I’m still figuring out the hashtag stuff on Twitter, and the ins-and-outs of all the different features on Facebook. But I am reaching far more people now than I was six months ago, and I see it in the online buzz being generated for the book.
2. A blog tour only works if you tell people about it. Yeah, that one probably seems pretty obvious, but that doesn’t make it any less important. Putting together the blog tour for Thieftaker took a couple of weeks — planning it, contacting people about appearances, distributing them in a way that (I hope) will maximize my exposure. (For more on this, see Kalayna’s terrific post from a week or two ago. And don’t forget that she has a new book out tomorrow, too — Grave Memory!) Writing the posts and interviews has been intense. For close to a month, I have been writing a couple of thousand words a day, and none of it has been fiction. Rather it has all been promotional stuff (and one of the really fun pieces will be going up on Faith’s blog on Thursday — an interview with my hero’s seductive and deadly nemesis, Sephira Pryce. Stay tuned!) But as I say, none of this matters if no one knows about it. So I am posting to my blogs about every stop on the blog tour, I am posting about them on Facebook and Twitter, and I am benefiting from the efforts of my various hosts, who are giving me lots of exposure.
3. Good artwork will not make a book a bestseller, but it will certainly get people interested. I get comments about the art for Thieftaker literally every day. Tor placed an advertisement in Locus that features my book along with several others. But the Thieftaker image is the one they used for the background of the entire ad. That is going to get the book more attention. Thieftaker has been picked up by the Science Fiction Book Club, in large part, I am told, because the folks as SFBC loved the art and want to feature it in their next brochure. I am hearing stories like this again and again — enough that it’s a pattern. And I should add here that I make a point, whenever someone comments on the art, of mentioning the artist’s name: Chris McGrath. He deserves the attention, and I’m more than happy to send it his way.
4. Book giveaways, sample chapters, short stories to help build momentum for the book, swag — all of these things can add to the interest in a book. Surprise: People like free stuff. And if you give them some free stuff — a post card, a sample chapter, a short story written in the same world — they are more likely to spend money on the product you’re trying to sell.
5. All of these things work together to create momentum for a project. Social media feeds interest in the free stuff. Good artwork can only help if it’s seen, but when it is seen, in makes the free stuff more desirable. A blog tour offers a series of venues in which to give away free books, t-shirts, etc. But again, people only hear about the blog tour if they’re being reached with the social media. There is, in short, a symbiosis among all of these tools. One of them alone probably isn’t enough to create that all important buzz about the book. It takes most if not all of them.
And yet . . .
6. It is possible to do all of the things I mention above — and do them well — and still have the book not do as well as you might hope. The publishing business is about hard work, and talent, and reaching the right people. But it’s also about luck. I have worked my tail off in recent months. I think I am getting my book in front of the right people. And I think that I’ve written a good novel. But still I am at the mercy of the vagaries of the market. I have been lucky enough to get good reviews. I was very, very lucky to get such great art work for my book. We’ll see if that is enough to overcome a weak economy and the fact that people are not spending as much money as they do in better times.
So, with that, I will go back to my other promotional writing. For those of you who have supported the book, who have said encouraging things to me about Thieftaker, who have expressed an interest in reading it, thank you. I can’t begin to tell you how much all of that means to me. Fingers crossed. Wish me luck.David B. Coe http://www.DavidBCoe.com http://www.dbjackson-author.com http://magicalwords.net