by Carlie Cullen
Do you remember playing Chinese Whispers when you were young? It’s that game where one person whispers something to a friend who then passes it on, the next one does the same and it continues until it gets back to the person who started it, who then compares what they are told with the original version to see how different it is. I can remember having more than a few giggles with that game.
So now you’re scratching your heads wondering if I’ve lost the plot and what the heck this has to do with writing and what our group is about. Let me explain.
After spending untold months writing a book and revising it until it’s in a reasonable shape, then going through the lengthy process of editing and finally proofreading, you can now publish your book. You get the book formatted, put it on Amazon Kindle, get a few paperback versions from Createspace or Lulu and you sit back and wait for the royalties to come pouring in.
You’ve written this fantastic book which is worthy of being published by the big six and deserves to be top of the New York Times Bestseller List yet three months later you’ve sold two copies; one to your best friend and one to Auntie Flo. So what’s gone wrong? Why aren’t you selling more copies?
The answer is simple – no one knows it’s there!
You have to distance yourself from your work and the characters you’ve lovingly created and view it now as a product. As with any product, consumers can’t buy something they don’t know exists. So you need to start the game of Chinese Whispers.
Let’s take our anthologies as a prime example. We are trying to raise money for a really worthwhile charity that needs every penny they can get their hands on. As a group we plan the launch/signing event at the library, get posters placed at various venues, spread the word around friends, family, and work colleagues and then after the big day, nothing much happens. One or two of us might occasionally mention it on Twitter but that’s about it.
They key to selling any book or product is advertising. It’s not the sort of thing you can just do once, you have to keep the name in the public eye to create more sales, and you can do it without it costing you a penny!
This is where social media comes in. There are loads of sites on the web now where people interact and I would guess most of us have at least one of these accounts. Let’s just look at a few of them: Facebook; Twitter; Instagram; Pinterest; Flikr; My Space; and Linkedin. All of these sites give you the opportunity to advertise your book or product for free, so all you need is to put your creative juices to work and come up with three or four short, interesting and intriguing ads and post them on a regular basis on the sites you have accounts on. The more people see the name, the more curious they will become and eventually some of them will buy the product. If they like it, they will recommend it to their friends and now the game of Chinese Whispers begins.
It’s very difficult to keep up with all the social media sites out there and still make plenty of time to write so it’s best to stick with just a couple to begin with. If you make your ads exciting enough, people will share them on other sites for you and so your reach grows. Also, look for specific times of year where your particular book would benefit from extra advertising, i.e. if you have written a romance, good sales periods for you would be around Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day, summer holidays, and Christmas, so in the weeks leading up to those periods, advertise a little extra and put in the suggestion that it would make a great/unusual/wonderful gift for, say, Mother’s Day.
So start playing your own game of Chinese Whispers – you may be surprised by the results.