Nancy Boyarsky was born in Oakland, California. After graduating from U.C. Berkeley, her first job was as an assistant editor in a tiny, long-gone publishing company in San Francisco. She has worked as a writer and editor all of her life.
She is married to the journalist Bill Boyarsky and lives in Los Angeles. She devotes herself to writing, editing, and reading and has added painting to her list of hobbies. She loves the theater, films and travel, especially to the UK, where her first mystery, The Swap, takes place.
It’s tough to get your novel noticed among the 60,000 some odd fiction titles published each year. Here are some of the tricks I learned along the way. With some, I could see a direct correlation with sales or online reviews. With others, I couldn’t find that connection. But, I figured, the more times my book was mentioned anywhere, the better. So here goes.
*Do hire a publicist for your first novel. There are many books out on how to do this yourself, but I tried with my first mystery, The Swap, when I self-published it several years ago. I found the job overwhelming. I wrote to a number of book review blogs with little result. I gave up and hired someone to handle it for me. The publicist got my book reviewed in an influential on-line and print publication. This attracted a publisher who signed me on and agreed to reissue my first two novels with new covers. That, in itself, was worth what I paid the publicist.
*If you self-publish on CreateSpace (Amazon’s self-publishing service), be sure to read the fine print that goes with the different type of ISBN (book identifying number) you use. At least one prohibits sales to libraries. Another ISBN option seems to close the door to sales other than through Amazon.
*Don’t bother advertising on Facebook or other social media. Just a few years ago, these ads really boosted sales if you were willing to pay for enough ads to reach a lot of people. We’re talking about $100 or more a day. Now, even for those willing to part with that, the ads don’t seem to do much. There are so many ads, so many elements on each webpage, that people tend to ignore book ads.
*Do have your book read and corrected for typos and plot glitches by professionals. I’ve noticed complaints in a number of reader reviews about typos. These don’t bother everyone, but they do detract from your story for people who notice such things.
*Don’t let bad reviews get you down. I have a friend who’s written a number of books and has a solid fan base. Her books have a solid four-plus rating. But she refuses to read her reviews on Amazon because the negative ones upset her. I can understand that. These don’t bother me (as long as the majority of reviews are positive). Some authors actually consider reader complaints as a learning opportunity.
*Do take advantage of Goodreads giveaways. During these giveaways, my book appeared on hundreds of Goodreads members’ “to-read” lists, although I can’t say for sure if these people ever actually bought the book. But the giveaway did attract reader’s attention. This said, I’d advise you to limit your giveaways to three books and restrict it to the U.S. The U.S.P.S. has recently raised its rules and rates. The last book I sent to a blogger in the UK cost me $23. It’s been nearly a month, and it still hasn’t arrived.
Pet peeve of publishing and promoting:
*Amazon’s new policy of showing only reviews of “verified purchase” customers unless you can find the link that lets you see all the reviews. This devalues reviews contributed by those who bought their books elsewhere or received a free advance copy for a review on a site like NetGalley.