What I did (and am still doing) to promote Mistress of the Revolution

Please remember my book signing (with champagne!) at Dutton’s tonight at 7 pm.

Dutton’s
Brentwood

11975 San Vicente Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA
90049
310-476-6263

Also, I was interviewed by Paperback Writer.

Finally, here is an article of mine, titled What I did to promote Mistress of the Revolution, that was just published by Book Marketing Buzz. When I wrote it a few weeks ago, I knew that I would be reviewed by Associated Press, but I had no idea that the reviewer there would call Mistress of the Revolution “a contender for one of the best reads of the year.” That was a wonderful surprise.

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After
all the hard work of writing and editing my historical novel, suddenly
my publication date drew frighteningly close. What was I to do? Someone
said that it doesn’t do an author any good to have written the best
book in the world if no one knows of it.

Mistress of the Revolution is my debut novel, and I am not a “branded” author with a following of
loyal fans. Most of my potential readers had never heard of me or my
book. I had to change that!

I had read somewhere that the publisher’s part in book promotion can be
summed up by “We’ll add you to our catalog.” Not true. My novel and
profile were indeed added to Penguin’s website and online store, but my
publisher did much more than that in terms of promotion. Dutton, the
division of Penguin that will publish it, had attractive galleys (also called Advanced Readers Copies or ARCs) printed and sent to reviewers for various newspapers or magazines.

About
book signings? In the movies, debut authors go on twelve-city tours,
right? I know, but in the real world, it doesn’t quite work this way.
Amanda Walker, my publicist at Dutton, warned me that, unless an author
is already a celebrity, the benefits of a book tour do not justify the
travel expenses incurred. I looked around on the internet and did find
horror stories of even well-established authors going to a book signing
where no one – that’s right, not a single reader – showed up. One the
other hand, I once went to one of Ray Bradbury’s signings, because I
greatly admire his work, and my son is a fan. There were hundreds of
people lined up. But let’s face it: I don’t compare to Ray Bradbury in
terms of recognition or sales. Not yet, at least. So I will have one
book signing at Dutton’s Brentwood, one of the great independent
bookstores in my hometown of Los Angeles. I am sure that my friends
will come, and I am happy with this.

I feel that Amanda at Dutton thoroughly covered the written press angle of book promotion. As a result, Mistress of the Revolution was
reviewed by Publishers Weekly and Kirkus, and it was selected as an
Editors’ Choice Title by the Historical Novel Society. Furthermore,
Associated Press is going to cover its release, which should give it a
great deal of exposure nationwide. What my publisher did entailed a
great deal of work and expense, and it paid off in terms of publicity.
But is this enough?

Some
writers hire outside publicists to target niche markets or secure radio
and television interviews. Unfortunately, this was not an option for
me. Most publicists charge thousands of dollars for their services, and
my book promotion budget was, shall we say, limited.

In
my case, there was an additional problem: THE ACCENT! All the
publicists to whom I spoke told me that that there was an umwritten
rule among the producers of television and radio shows not to interview
any writers with foreign accents. Darn! I was born and raised in
France, and English is my second language.

So
what remains open to me and my accent? You guessed it: the internet, of
course. The most unpoliced, unruly, vibrant, democratic medium of all.
I even titled my blog Writing with a foreign accent. And no one minds on the internet!

I did hire an outside publicist, Dorothy Thompson, at Pump Up Your Book Promotion. I love that name. For one thing, Dorothy charged a fraction of the fee
of a traditional publicist. She organized a blog tour for me. She put
me in touch with fellow bloggers, and I began networking. Let me say
that I have been amazed by the kindness of perfect strangers.

Now my blog tour is set up, and I am ready to roll. Wish me luck!

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