Welcome back to the Fiction Reboot! Today I am happy to announce the latest release from E. C. Abrose: Elisha Magus: The Dark Apostle! You may remember Ambrose from his previous visit to the Reboot with his first book, Elisha Barber.
Today, Ambrose is back to talk about the fine art of promoting your work once it has been published (not an easy task!) All writers want to know: how do I get this story into the world? Welcome E. C., with some answers!
I think the key to effectively marketing your book is knowing what it has to offer that sets it apart, being able to articulate that core in a way that’s powerful and fast, and then reaching out to the people most likely to respond to it. When you have your book’s core in a memorable form, then you’re able to share it early and often, and make it easier for others to share it, too.
I attend a lot of science fiction and fantasy readers’ conventions (not media events, but ones run by fans who love books), and I have the same conversation repeatedly. It goes something like this:
Me, on meeting a new writer: So, what do you write?
Stranger: fantasy. (or, even more vaguely, “Science fiction and fantasy.”)
Me. . . Uh. . . that tells me exactly nothing about your work, much less why I would want to buy or read it.
The other side of that conversation:
Stranger: So, what do you write?
Me: Dark historical fantasy about medieval surgery.
Stranger: Sounds creepy (or exciting or different or disgusting or –) or, I’ve never read a book about that. . .
Basically, like every promo opportunity, this is a chance to create openings for the potential reader to learn more and ask more.
Marketing starts with understanding your book—where does it fit in the world of reading? (“historical fantasy”) And what makes it stand out from that area? (“about medieval surgery”) Now you have what the real ad-men call your unique selling proposition. You can use it as above, in person as the start of your elevator speech; use it as a theme on your website, emails, or social media profiles; put it in advertising or copy, and use it to focus your marketing approach. Brainstorm some places to reach readers who might be especially excited about what you’re offering.
A few months before Elisha Barber launched, I looked for compatible blog and review sites in line with the novel’s core (medieval history sites, sites about historical medicine or literary medicine) and found some folks I could connect with, who would already be excited about some aspect of my work. On my own blog, I also focus on the interactions between history and fantasy, and frequently talk about medical issues in history. I wrote an article about the brighter side of medieval surgery for Renaissance Magazine, a glossy publication aimed at Ren Faire enthusiasts. I have a collection of medieval-style surgical tools which I bring to appearances—and mention in my emails and press releases to spark interest from the media.
I used my tagline at one of those “speed dating” type events for people in the arts—to attract the attention of my local NPR affiliate station host, and get an interview that spiked my ranking big-time.
Basically, I’ve been building my brand and carving a niche that sets me apart from other fantasy authors. I made an off-beat book trailer extolling the virtues of medieval medicine which opens with the line “Are you worried about health care?” For the sequel, Elisha Magus, I’m expanding the brand in some fun ways. At Readercon in Burlington, MA, I’ll be giving away copies of the mass market edition of Elisha Barber to anyone who donates at the Heinlein Society Blood Drive. I’ll also be sharing a panel with my medical advisor for the series.
One idea I haven’t acted on yet: doing a costumed talk as a barber-surgeon at libraries, and perhaps filming it for my local access cable channel.
The more distinctive your message, the more likely it is to get attention—and nothing brings people out like offering minty maggots to those who attend your readings. . .
In Elisha Magus, the barber-surgeon, feared and hunted for the spectacular magic that ended a war, finds himself under the protection of a duke, and offered the duke’s daughter, Rosalynn, in marriage. Elisha escorts Rosalynn to a retreat in the New Forest, hoping to recover the dread talisman stolen by his lover and teacher, Brigit, after the battle. Elisha learns more about the shadowy nature of witches and the truth of his own power: that he has become so close to Death that he is indivisible from it—a power that Brigit is desperate to learn. Does his knowledge make him a necromancer, feeding on the fear and pain of others?
When he befriends the discredited Prince Thomas, Elisha has the chance to forge a more just nation, but his enemies grow stronger and more vicious, wielding the power of death to craft a reign of horrors that will blacken the future of England—and maybe the world.
Also look for book one of The Dark Apostle, Elisha Barber, now in paperback!
E. C. Ambrose links
- For sample chapters, historical research and some nifty extras, visit www.TheDarkApostle.com
- E. C. Ambrose blogs about the intersections between fantasy and history at http://ecambrose.wordpress.com/