Thinking publicity and marketing

I’m off to my publishers headquarters tomorrow to talk publicity for my forthcoming book, and also to record a short interview sequence for youtube.

I’ve learnt a hell of a lot through this whole book process. If you thought that writing a book was all about doing a bit of research then writing up, you are sadly mistaken. From the commisioning stage, where you have to put together a watertight case for why it is a good proposal, to sourcing images, accessing sources, proofreading, editing it yourself, sending it off, then re-proofing it, writing the index, and considering publicising your book, theres a lot more to it than you think. But it is a very interesting learning curve.

It has always mystified me how people put in the hard work writing a book, but then don’t seem to publicise it very well. If you’re going to spend a matter of years working on something, get out there and plug it! I would liken it to a band writing an album. The artist wants to sell as many CD’s as possible, so does the record label. It gets publicised in newspapers, magazines, on TV, radio, and its on sale in shops and online. It will get reviewed by peers and experts. The artists will probably also take it on tour to promote it.

Hopefully that’s the kind of approach I am going to take. It’s no good to write a book, and then sit back and wish it would sell more. I want to make it sell, without annoying people, of course. One would hope that if you have written a good book, and it’s not too niche, then it has a decent enough chance of doing well.

Something else that has been vexing me – what the hell does a young, military historian wear? Not to get too image conscious on you all, but it’s a quandry! You want people to take you seriously, but equally you don’t want to morph into somebody 50 years older than you just because you write about the past… A full suit makes me look like a banker, or somebody who’s off to a wedding. Equals overkill. Equally, jeans and t-shirt are a no-no. For now, I have settled on smart trousers and a smartish check shirt, with no tie. I did try a blue gingham-check shirt and a suit jacket, but Sarah tells me I looked like a science teacher minus the elbow pads! And I was stricly under orders to have a shave!

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8 Comments

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8 responses to “Thinking publicity and marketing

  1. John Erickson

    Definitely shave the face clean. You’ll be dealing with fuddy-duddies in mind, if not actual age. You know, old farts like me. ;)
    You might want to try the “suit minus tie” look, as well. A plain, or modestly striped, open neck shirt, light in colour, contrasting with a dark blue or charcoal (dark grey) suit, pinstripes optional.
    Then again, this is fashion advice from a gent who last “dressed for success” over 15 years ago. And was far from a fashion plate when he DID dress well. Use this advice at your own risk. :D

    • James Daly

      I won’t give away what I wore, but I am very happy with how it turned out. Had a very interesting time at the publishers HQ, they are based in a lovely little old mill building in Gloucestershire. Had a very interesting chat about marketing too, we’re going to be piloting some new ideas for promotion via social media.

      • John Erickson

        Let me know when you get started on the social media front. I’m on the blogs of a couple budding authors, who (I’m sure) would love to trade ad for ad. I’m also on the blogs of a number of history fans (yes, OTHER than you guys!), so I can spread the word that way. I’m also on a couple boards that, while more “tech” in orientation, would enjoy hearing about the people, as well.
        And here you thought I was just a bizarre but charming Yank with a goat fetish! ;)

  2. x

    So you are going with the Dan Snow look are you? Good for you.

    • James Daly

      As long as my work shows a bit more substance than Dan Snow, I don’t mind what I look like! :P

      • x

        What about doing a Ross Kemp?

        • James Daly

          Not sure I’m really cut out for the front line!

          In all seriousness there are a few of her majesty’s forces capabilities I wouldn’t mind experiencing – actually going to sea on a commissioned vessel, or a landing craft or chinook for example. And I wouldn’t mind seeing the Falklands, or charging round Sennelager in something big and metallic!

          • John Erickson

            Ya wanna know what riding in a Chinook feels like? Find a large metal shed, get two friends who are drummers and two who are big and strong. Get the drummers wooden bats or two-handed tool handles, and get yourself a waterbed mattress. Set the mattress up in the exact middle of the shed on a hot summer day or a frigid winter night, have the two drummers standing outside pounding on the shed rhythmically, have the two strong gents shake the crap outta the mattress while you try to stand on it. For greater realism, eat something that gives you acid indigestion and some nausea. If you survive 20 minutes, you’ve re-enacted the smoothest and most comfortable Chinook ride you could ever have. :D
            Or just climb into a large clothes dryer, set it on warm tumble dry, and go for a ride. Cheaper, but much more comfortable!

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