Building Readership - Pauline Rowson talks about readership and crime novels on BBC Radio

Pauline Rowson talking to Julian Clegg BBC Radio Solent July 2013

I was on BBC Radio Solent recently talking to Julian Clegg on his very popular Breakfast Show. As well as talking about the new DI Andy Horton, Undercurrent, and the latest DI Horton to be released as an unabridged audio book, Footsteps on the Shore, we also chatted about how difficult it is for a new author to get taken on by a publisher and generate sales. 

This topic came as a result of the revelation in the media that Harry Potter author, J K Rowling, had written a crime novel under a different name, Robert Galbraith, and had only sold 1,500 copies. That is until her publisher revealed her identity as a result of which sales instantly rocketed.  Not surprisingly, of course.  A good PR stunt and a good media story? Maybe but it also highlights, as Ian Rankin is quoted as saying, that despite Rowling/Galbraith's book being given glowing reviews from best selling authors from the same publishing house, sales of it remained steadfastly low. Other publishers have now admitted rejecting the book. 

And what does this say?

1,500 copies sold in hardback by an unknown first author is not necessarily low especially if there has been no or minimal marketing around it. Under the old marketing principal people can't buy a product if they don't know about it the same applies for books, if readers haven't heard of you how can they buy your book? But it takes time to build a name and a reputation and it takes time to build readership.

Authors now need to take much more responsibility for their own marketing than in days gone by and the Internet is ideal for that. Libraries too help enormously in building readership.  I am delighted that my crime novels are available in libraries throughout the UK and Commonwealth and in the USA and this has certainly helped to introduce my flawed and rugged DI Andy Horton to many readers. 

Word of mouth is another great way to build readership, and I also give many talks to audiences around the UK as you will see on the events page here on my website.

I am now writing the eleventh in the DI Horton series and number ten, Death Surge, is being published in the UK/Commonwealth on 30 September 2013 and in the States on 1 January 2014.  

Thanks to all to my readers for buying, borrowing and reading my crime novels and for the kind comments and reviews about them and to my publisher for continuing to publish them.


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