Tuesday, 14 July 2015

Latest on Book Marketing from #RNAConf15, Part I

I’ve just returned from the Romantic Novelists’ Association’s Conference at Queen Mary University of London. My neetswriter blog post ‘Going to a Writers' Conference as Two People’, covers the talks on writing by Julie Cohen, Emma Darwin and Charlotte Betts. 

This post will cover Hazel Gaynor's talk on 'Promotion Commotion'. I'll cover the talks by Kate Harrison and Alison Baverstock in my next post 'Latest on Book Marketing from #RNAConf15, Part II'.

Hazel Gaynor’s debut ‘The Girl Who Came Home’, a poignant story of a group of Irish emigrants aboard RMS Titanic was a New York Times bestseller and RNA Historical Romantic Novel of the Year. Her second novel, ‘A Memory of Violets’ was a WHSmith Travel Fresh Talent pick, and her third novel will be released by HarperCollins in 2016. I shall definitely be adding 'The Girl Who Came Home' to my summer reading list.

Hazel used great examples to explain the points she was making during her talk (I've included some of her tweets and Facebook updates in this post), and this information is so helpful to authors, whether you are traditionally published or self-published. These points are also helpful if you intend to be published one day.

Hazel is a fantastic speaker; engaging and witty, and exceptionally generous. Hazel said that the point of promotion is to:

Tell me the book exists
Give me a reason to care
Convince me to buy it

By using quotes from the recent  Bookseller Marketing and Publicity Conference #mpconf15 (click for link to tweets under this hashtag), Hazel was able to demonstrate how to go about doing this.

Here's a quote from Alison Barrow, Publicist at Transworld:

"The author has always been vital for publicity. They know their book best."

There are more quotes from Alison Barow at #mpconf15 in this tweet:

Here’s a link which I tweeted from @neetsmarketingvia Laura Waddell with more details on #mpconf15 

Social Media:

In all three talks on marketing that I attended at #RNAConf15, the speakers emphasised the importance of social media for authors. 

Hazel used another quote from #mpconf15 when talking about social media, and went on to explain what you should do.  

“Authors must take up the challenge to excel at social media, building communities around their work….," Harkable co-founder, Will Francis said.

People are online to be entertained, informed, to connect. Ask yourself why you are there. Social media isn’t a billboard.

Be engaging, rather than '#buymybook', and continue to engage in those long gaps between books.

Focus on fluid media: Twitter, Facebook, Instagram-what is current and ‘now’.

Be there as a user as well as an author promoting their book.

Visual social media works well, and Pinterest can be used as an online noticeboard, a way to give the reader something more after they've finished your book. Here are Hazel’s Pinterest boards

Use video: YouTube, BookTube, video on Facebook. Video views on Facebook recently passed those on YouTube for the first time.

Use Virtual Events and Festivals such as the Festival of Romance, Podcasting, Google Hangouts.

Use Periscope. See #WhereIWrite for an example of how to use it (here's an article on this, via The Independent).

Share interesting, relevant book-related content: For ‘The Girl Who Came Home’, Hazel shared images of the Titanic, references about the ship, imagery from museum trips, artefacts sold at auction, and she engaged with people fascinated by the Titanic.

A Google Hangout: Irish Fiction Chat with Carmel Harrington, Hazel Gaynor, Clodagh Murphy (chaired by books editor of The Evening Herald, Susan Conley) #Romance15

Use a relevant hashtag: Hazel used the Chelsea Flower Show hashtag for A Memory of Violets 

Use anniversaries:
Do a Twitter chat, but be prepared. Stick to one hour, rather than a whole day. Run a giveaway or competition, share links of publisher discount promotion, share milestones, such as x no of 5 star reviews or x no of followers. Who are you online? 

Social media essentials:

Website and blog, Twitter, Facebook Page, Sign up to Goodreads as an author, create a mailing list using eg. mailchimp

Make your personal Facebook account updates different from your Facebook Page updates: 

See my posts on Facebook, and another will follow soon on 'Managing What Your Friends See on Facebook'.

Add an app to your Facebook Page for ‘start reading':

Use your Facebook Page for giveaways;

and for a celebration:

3-6 months before release of book:

Start showing your progress, the cover reveal, have a Goodreads giveaway, ask for book reviews.


Do a blog tour-interviews, chapters, extracts; do Twitter giveaways, have reader discussions, share reviews, share your Pinterest board, use Goodreads and keep your author profile up-to-date, keep your website up-to-date.

Community where you live: 

Visit local bookshops and give them a copy of your novel for the staffroom, and offer to do readings and signings. Approach the organiser for local writing festivals and events. Find local book clubs, ask your librarian about writing groups and book clubs. Offer to run writing workshops at libraries. Try to meet booksellers at conferences, and go to book launches. Connect to book clubs in for example the U.S., if you have a friend there who can help, via Skype.

Articles/blog posts:

Write articles-online and in print, be interviewed, and write blog posts for eg. see Hazel's post on the RNA blog.

Other things you can do:

Remind yourself what it’s like to be a reader, why do you fall in love with a book? Collaborate with your publisher, put forward ideas and work together

Be creative-eg see Matt Haig's video on how to be a writer. I love this!

Pitch to Radio and TV. Know when to say ‘no’, and don't pitch for something that you wouldn't feel comfortable doing. Realise that when ‘it goes bad’, you’re not alone, that it happens to everyone. For example, low attendance at book signings.

Finally, I loved this quote from Hazel:

‘Keep chucking the mud and see what sticks’

That's it! Thank you so much to Hazel for such useful advice. I look forward to using some of these ideas with clients, and hopefully one of these days for myself :-).

Take a look at #RNAConf15 on Twitter and Facebook to see photos and updates from the RNA Conference.

Part II of this post is now ready (which covers talks by Alison Baverstock and Kate Harrison):

Latest on Book Marketing from #RNAConf15, Part II


  1. Fantastic - thanks so much for posting this, Anita! I missed Hazel's talk as I was at another and, although I already do a lot of this, I've learned some more. One to bookmark for reference!

    1. So glad you found it helpful Rosemary! Lots of cheeky tips :-)

  2. Thanks for posting Hazel's talk, Anita. I had to leave 10 minutes in to go for a 1:1 appointment so missed out on most of it - now I know what good advice I missed.

    1. So glad you found it useful, Kate, thanks for reading! Hope the 1:1 went well :-).

  3. Thanks, Anita. I was there and scribbling furiously and you've still managed to pick up things that I didn't.

    1. Glad you found it helpful April, thanks for reading!

  4. Great post, Anita. I will share. x

  5. A great summary of a REALLY good session!!


    1. Thank you, John! And thanks for sharing on Twitter too :-).