Remember the episode of “Seinfeld” where George starts doing the opposite of what his instincts tell him to do and suddenly his life becomes wonderful?
That’s the approach I’ve decided to take when it comes to promotion.
Everyone tells you that the best way to promote your books is to submit them for reviews to influential gatekeepers, do bookstore appearances, go to conferences and network.
Then in, 2001, I wrote a book about Sarah Hughes, an American figure-skater who would be appearing at the 2002 Olympic Games. Sarah unexpectedly won those Games, and the book went into first a second, then a third printing. Without me, personally, having done anything to make it happen. (Thanks, Sarah!)
In 2006, I pitched and wrote a tie-in novel to the soap-opera, “As the World Turns,” in conjunction with its 50th Anniversary. “Oakdale Confidential” spent two weeks at #3 on the NYT best-seller list. Not because of reviews or bookstore appearances or conferences (or because it was considerably better than all of my other books), but because it was on a TV show.
This suggested to me that perhaps there was more to book promotion than what common wisdom would suggest.
In 2014, all five of my Figure Skating Mysteries that had previously been published by Berkley Prime Crime, “Murder on Ice,” “On Thin Ice,” “Axel of Evil,” “Death Drop” and “Skate Crime” were re-issued as a one volume edition of enhanced ebooks, featuring not just all the text of the paperback series, but also skating videos to compliment the story.
When it came to promotion, I could have gone the tried and true route. Or I could have tried something out of the box.
To promote my books, I partnered with 2-time Olympic Men’s Champion Dick Button. I produced his live commentary of the Sochi Games figure skating events on Twitter and, during the TV commercials, I put up blurbs and links to my titles. That February, sales went up 300%.
Now, I am once again breaking a cardinal rule of publishing. Common wisdom says that authors should only send out their very best work. They should polish and edit and revise until their manuscript is the best it can possibly be.
Been there. Done that. Getting kind of bored with it.
This summer, I launched a potentially career-sinking project. I am writing my next book, a romantic family saga, completely live on the web at: www.AlinaAdams.com/live/. Readers can literally watch me type each word. They can then watch me erase it and search for a better word. They can virtually look over my shoulder as I move sentences around and, when I delete two chapters completely, they’ll know why. (It’s because I decided that if one character was a bore for me to write, he’d be even more boring to read.)
I have spent twenty years (my first book was accepted for publication in 1994), writing to please editors. Now I want to write to please readers.
Don’t like something I’m writing? Tell me! Maybe I’ll change it. And if I won’t, I’ll at least tell you why.
Editors are only guessing at what they think readers might like. I’d rather hear from the readers directly.
I’m hoping they’ll enjoy being a part of the process. I’m hoping they might learn something they can apply to their own work. But, most of all, I’m hoping this’ll be a blast for all of us.
Just call it George Conztanza Marketing 101.
Alina Adams is the NYT best-selling author of soap-opera tie-ins, Regency and contemporary romance novels, and figure-skating murder mysteries. Come watch her potentially destroy her career by writing her next book live on-line, typos, mistakes, sex scenes and all, at: www.AlinaAdams.com (Would you rather learn from her mistakes, or your own?)