Awards, Marketing and Publicity

There are hundreds of thousands of books in the World. And lots of crime novels and crime writers. So in a crowded market how does an author make his or her books and name stand out? Recent research has shown that in the eyes of the buying public publicity is a very strong factor in boosting sales (think "Richard and Judy"). But we can't all get on "Richard and Judy", and besides the programme is moving television channels and might not be so influential in the future. Us authors need all the help we can get to promote our books and create name awareness. Having our books entered for awards and competitions like the World Book Day Spread The Word Prize, (In Cold Daylight) The Orange Broadband Prize for Fiction, the CWA Dagger Prizes, The Man Booker Prize and so many more is extremely valuable in terms of increased profile and publicity. This publicity starts with the speculation about who might be selected to win an award and it builds when the longlist is announced. Longlists are made public because they stimulate excitement and create anticipation in the eyes of the media and readers. And if the awards are sponsored by a company or organisation, which they usually are, then the more publicity around that award, and the longlist, the better not only for the sponsor but also for the authors on the list. You get the media hooked, you get the public engaged and hopefully they borrow your books from the library or they go out and buy them to see what all the fuss is about. That way the reader finds a new author, the publisher gets a sale and the author gets his or her royalty or Public Lending Right payment.

Promoting longlists helps to draw in new readers, crucial in this era, and particularly in the National Year of Reading. The publicity machine takes a while to crank up and needs to build over a period of time, so harnessing every opportunity to promote an event or award is essential so that by the time the shortlist is announced valuable PR coverage has already been won and can be built on.

Using the Internet to communicate and stimulate debate and draw attention to new authors, in a tough market and a somewhat still old-fashioned publishing world, is also vital. Finding new and innovative ways of doing things is what is needed in a crowded market. And talking of which if you fancy crossing to the Isle of Wight on Friday 30 May come and join me in a marathon book-signing event (eight hours) on the Wightlink ferry. Ship ahoy!


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