Book marketing for beginners: say something

I was at the opticians the other day (I’ve been trying to get contact lenses sorted, but my stupid eyes don’t seem to be compatible. It’s extremely annoying. Are they supposed to be a bit itchy? A bit uncomfortable? Answers in the comments are welcome.) when something struck me. As in a thought. A sensible notion.
With my novel being published later this year, naturally I’ve been thinking about how I might promote it. Most of my ideas have involved the internet. Nothing unusual about that. But as I sat there, opposite my optician, blinded by the light of his tiny torch just centimetres from my eyeball, I remembered perhaps the most obvious marketing action available to me. Say something. Just say something.

And so I did. I engineered a conversation.

‘I only work just up the road, so it’s no problem if I need to come back.’
‘Ah, right. What do you do?’
‘I’m a writer. I work for a design company.’
‘I see…’
‘But I also write fiction. I’ve written a novel.’
‘Really? Fantastic. And is it published?’
‘It’s funny you should ask that. It’s coming out 1 September this year.’
‘And are you using your real name?’
‘Yes. Iain Broome. That’s me.’
‘And what is it called?’
‘A is for Angelica.’

Now, I’ve had that conversation before with people. Sometimes the recipient of this knowledge will be polite, feign interest and, well, that’s about it. Other times, the person will lead the chit-chat on to a related topic, like their own novel, the one they’ve never written but definitely could and maybe, you know, one day, they might get a chance to. If it weren’t for all the stuff.

But my optician did neither of those things. He simply turned to his desk, wrote something down and carried on with matters optical. It was only when he left the room for a minute, to find me yet another type of contact lens, that I was able to sneak a quick look at what he’d written.

Iain Broome. A is for Angelica.

A note for later, presumably. A future Google search.

And all I did was say something.

    1. Thank you, thank you. It’s so obvious and yet how many conversations do we let go past without saying something about who we are and what we do? Loads. Of course, I’m not advocating a constant stream of you-waffle, but when the time is right, it’s perfectly fine to mention stuff that’s important.

  1. Simple and (dare I say it?) obvious, yet it’s the one marketing tool that so many of us forget that we possess. I’m still struggling with self-promotion, but when you describe it like this it seems very easy, and much more natural than the rather aggressive techniques touted elsewhere. Thank you!

      1. Yes, it’s in the offline world that I struggle most. I’m not shy, but I find it terribly difficult to ‘blow my own trumpet’ even with family and friends. Your technique, though – working it into ordinary conversation in day-to-day situations – has helped me realise that it can be much easier than I’d feared. I’ll try and put it to the test, tomorrow 😉

  2. Love your work and spread the love. I talk to anyone about my books and have found that I now have my local butcher, hairdresser, a couple I met at a party, the guy at the pound store, a doctor who did ultra sound on me (nothing serious), the second cousin of a second cousin removed etc etc, emailing me quite often or stopping me in the street saying “How’s it going?, “When’s the next one coming out?”, “Hurry up!”, “I’ve bought it for my Mum/sister/whoever”. Word of mouth is still the best way to sell novels and reach out to new readers.
    Sometimes, if I’m going to a Museum (I write C19th stuff) I just hand over a spare copy to the “man at the door” – you get an enormous smile and hey, they might just like it!

    1. It really is a case of what’s the worst that can happen? It’s rare that people are not interested or even slightly impressed when you tell them that you’re an author. So long as you’re not tooting your trumpet too aggressively, you should be fine. That goes for all life situations by the way.

  3. Hi Iain. Hopefully your saying something will have an ‘inkspot effect’ (no pun intended; not limited to spreading the word about the written word..) too – your optician might mention to his wife that he met a young (I think we’re still young!) local author who has a book coming out.. She might talk about it to her friend over lunch.. In saying something to one person your message can spread to many. Gossips and rumour mongerers have known about this for years! In marketing speak I think it’s something about using an intermediate target audience… Anyway, in my experience contact lenses are generally itchy and drying, although probably because I wear them for too long. Told you I read your stuff 😉

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