I am like most writers who create fictional worlds for the love of doing so: I am good at what I do. I can create images, smells and sounds in your mind and convince you to laugh, cry or feel angered in a single sentence. I’ve had wonderfully uplifting messages from a radio Journalist in my mentions, comparing Waffles to the likes of Stephen King. I’ve been told that my work is some of the most ‘deep and thought-provoking’ work a fellow author has ever read.
With all this ego-stroking, surely I am confident that I can swan up to a respectable book reviewer, literary blogger or even local news station and simply ask for an interview, or a review in exchange for a free copy of my book. Right?
Wrong. Absolutely wrong on so many levels.
You see, it doesn’t matter how good your work is. When you’re an unknown author who is self-publishing, you’re a needle in a haystack.
Why would a radio show want to interview you for their Breakfast Book Club when they can have J.K. Rowling on the phone? Why would the BBC want to feature you on their Top 10 Books list when it’s more rightfully populated with household names such as Dan Brown, or James Patterson?
Even on a smaller scale, I personally know a number of established self-published authors. They work tirelessly arranging signings, online promo events, giveaways, guest posts – there are enough established self-published authors to easily knock a total newbie out of the running at the first hurdle. They have worked hard for many years to build their brand and presence. They are at a point where, if they reached out to a local news network, they would have a fair chance of being given a chance at an interview.
One of the pieces of advice I read recently was “begin your PR campaign before you begin writing your book”. It took me five years to write Waffles to a point I considered it complete. Five years. I personally disagree with advertising yourself when you’ve nothing to sell, but with my release date looming I am starting to feel the nerves set in and an entire mudslide of “oh god I should’ve done ______” and “How am I supposed to do ______” oozing towards me like a horror movie blob-monster.
It really doesn’t have to be all that bad. But people like myself are tiny faceless guppies in an ocean full of Megalodons bearing a striking resemblance to Clive Cussler and Terry Pratchett.
What I – and many other small fry like myself – need to do is forget the review bloggers with 35k fans, or the book vloggers with 2 million subscribers. I need to focus on the smaller blogs, tiny YouTubers and other small fry. Not only will you probably make some small-time blogger’s day by reaching out to write a guest post, or offer a free book in exchange for an honest review, but you will also more likely hear a yes to your request.
Perhaps, in exchange, you can offer up a slot on your own blog to a non-author who just really likes to write about books. Perhaps there is a theme or idea in your novel (that you offered them a copy of, naturally) that they want to talk about in more detail. Small-time publishing is a lot of networking and hand-shaking that can drag you into deep water before you know it.
Make sure you can swim first.