How Does an Author Promote Their First Novel? #AliceInWonderland
How does an author promote their first novel? I have recently published my first novel. This is something I have wanted to do for many years. Part of the reason for delay is that I have been busy writing factual books. The first sentence of this Blog piece deliberately ends with a question mark. I am not so much offering advice on how to promote a novel, as asking myself, and anybody reading this, how is it done?
Belief in the quality of my writing has always been dwarfed by a lack of confidence in promoting the books, and myself. I think a lot of this is due to my struggling with Asperger Syndrome and OCD. Here is a link to something I wrote about how these things affect me. It was one of my more popular posts on this Blog – and received some comments.
In the case of my novel, there is the complicating factor of my not even being sure that publishing it, without a pseudonym, is a good idea. It is my first foray in the world of….(dare I say it?)….erotica. The whole book is not erotica. There is a lot of gentle comedy, updating the tales in Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland books to the present day. There may even be aspirations to literary fiction. Most people, this generally includes myself, do not talk openly about their sexuality, but people are equally fascinated by the concept. I ask myself, will the book be welcomed as an interesting piece of work? Will the “oddball” nature of my novel cause people to take my other writing less seriously? Or will it be largely ignored? For a long time, I lacked the confidence to explicitly tell family and friends, who know I have been writing the book, the direction in which it was headed. Now the novel, Alice’s Adventures in Fantasyland, is available for all the world to read, as both a paperback and Kindle Ebook.
Much of my output has been self-published, but a couple of books have been issued by mainstream publishers. Both of these were books of football history which, after an encouraging start, lost some impact as they became out of date. In the first case, the publisher went bankrupt, while in the second the book was quietly allowed to fade away. Like many writers, I have the ongoing difficulty of getting a publisher without having a literary agent, while attempts to get a literary agent are stalled by my relative lack of prior success getting a publisher!.
It is often said that many writers have a large ego about their writing, combined with a lack confidence about promoting themselves. The outlook of the muddled creator of a piece of art has been likened, by various people, to famous lines from W B Yeats:
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity
The anxiety I have always felt, due to mental health issues, has made dealing with publishers on a personal level difficult. Similarly I have attempted to sell my books in person at book fairs, but lacked the confidence to make much of this. I used to be good at writing and emailing press releases, but terrible at following up with telephone calls to real life journalists. More than 30 years after I started writing books, I am often overwhelmed by a feeling that it will be difficult to be a major success. Should I continue to follow my big dream? Should I settle for the limited level of literary success I have been able to enjoy? In an attempt to prompt myself to be more active, I am writing this short piece, with the intention of updating it as things progress.
I hope to return later with more to report.