As authors marketing is something we’re probably all familiar with to a greater or lesser extent. As a new author who signed my first publishing contract with Canelo in 2020, I was keen to learn more and find ways of reaching readers. Connecting with Anna Caig, whose RNA Learning course is entitled ‘Build Your Author Brand, Promote Your Books, Reach More Readers’, has made a huge difference to how I do this and improved my confidence in approaching people.
Part of Anna’s philosophy is ‘demystifying communications with fun and effective training’, and I can definitely attest to that. I learned to think about ways to identify my audience, where and how I might connect with them (mostly online, especially now but not always), and to develop my key messages (which three things I would share about my writing and /or me as an author).
Setting plays a huge role in my books and it’s often the first thing that inspires me to create a story, and I love to weave my character’s lives through the landscape where I’ve placed them. Anna helped me recognise ways to reach potential readers and as my series is set in the Yorkshire Dales, I began to research this.
Some Facebook groups accept Pages as members and I joined a couple local to my setting, asking questions related to research or liking and commenting on things of interest. I approached a holiday company who have several cottages at the heart of my location and they were willing to share my book launch on their social media (and read my book!). I reciprocated on my Facebook page and included a link to their properties in my newsletter.
Through the local Facebook group I found the village parish magazine and emailed the editor to ask if they would be interested in my writing an article about the inspiration behind my setting. They said yes and were kind enough to include a picture of the book cover along with the article in the magazine. I can’t say that this led directly to more sales but it helped to position my book within its setting and create a more ‘local’ feel to appeal to potential local readers.
Anna was a great support leading up to my first online book launch and agreed to act as host, guiding me through the process and suggesting a way to broadcast through Facebook, and I’ve gone on to do this twice more since. Keeping with the local feel, as the hero in my first book is a volunteer with the local fell rescue association, I approached the association who had previously helped me with research questions and they agreed to meeting via Zoom. We recorded a short interview which I showed during the online launch.
I try to think creatively about what might appeal to those local and of interest to the themes in my book. With this in mind I contacted the National Trust for Scotland for my latest online launch as one of their properties inspired mine in my second novel. They were very happy to agree to an interview and arranged for a member of their landscape team to speak with me. They are considering stocking the book in their gift shop when they reopen as it could appeal to visitors looking for something local to take home.
All of this of course takes time and I can easily spend a couple of hours updating my website, writing blog posts and contacting people and then responding. It is something I enjoy and one of my most favourite approaches happened very recently. I emailed a florist who grows their own flowers to ask about attending a course on their farm and whether they might be interested in helping me with some research questions. They replied very soon after to say yes, they’d love to and were at that very moment reading my book. This was a lovely surprise, as well as a thrill. We plan to meet when we’re able to, and it may lead to sharing some of what we do on our respective social media.
Marketing is a huge subject but thanks in no small part to Anna and the learning and confidence she inspired in me, I’m so enjoying finding my way and connecting with potential readers as I go.
Suzanne writes contemporary, romantic and uplifting fiction with a strong sense of setting and community connecting the lives of her characters. When she’s not writing or spending time with her family, she can usually be found in a garden or looking to the landscape around her for inspiration. Summer of Second Chances will be out in June.
Anna Caig has worked in communications for 17 years, specialising in media relations and strategic marketing campaigns. She trains authors to build their brand and reach more readers. Anna tutors on the MA Journalism course at The University of Sheffield and is the former Head of Communications at Sheffield City Council. As a fiction writer herself, she knows how daunting it can feel to connect with an audience when you’ve poured your heart and soul into something – and this insight is one of the things that makes her training stand out. Her approach, described by one participant as ‘how to promote your work with heart and creativity’ puts authenticity and creative inspiration at the centre of the process – it is by no means your standard marketing training. Anna demystifies communications, breaking it down into practical, manageable and enjoyable chunks. She also reviews books for the Sheffield Telegraph newspaper and on her blog, and hosts a podcast called Thank You for your Submission. You can say hello at annacaigcomms.co.uk or on twitter @AnnaCaig