4 min read
Six Things I've Done to Promote My Books
Rob Keeley is a prolific writer for children of all ages. In this blog, Rob shows just how adaptable an indie author has to be to connect with their readers. If there’s one thing that defines the successful indie author, it’s this. There’s little we won’t do to promote our books. Even with an industrious marketing department fighting our corner, it’s up to us to seek out our local media, network on Facebook or Twitter, run giveaways, give interviews, answer that question about where we get our ideas from for the umpteenth time, and of course, to do lots and lots of events. Whether we’re visiting schools, libraries, bookshops, book clubs or just talking about our books to fellow guests at a party, everyone’s expected to make personal appearances and make some attempt at being the celebrity author. And to illustrate this, I’ve compiled six of the more unusual things I’ve done over the last eight years...
1. I’ve battled Storm Doris to get to a library.
In February 2017 I did two author workshops for families at Bebington Central Library on the Wirral. It was half-term and there was one in the morning and one in the afternoon. I had a bagful of Creative Writing activities and my wheelchair to push. That day, Britain was hit by Storm Doris. Rain was lashing down and as I approached the library my rainproof poncho was billowing up around me as if I were in the grip of some magic spell. I had to send someone out in the tempest to fetch a box of my books which hadn’t arrived. The parents and kids arrived regardless, despite a tree having blown through one of their neighbours’ houses. The lesson? Nothing stops young readers, so nothing can stop children’s authors either. Get out there.
2. I’ve done a radio broadcast from a shopping mall.
At Easter 2019 comedy duo Hunt and Darton visited my home town to do Radio Local, a one-day community arts broadcast on the local radio network. They broadcast live from our shopping precinct and I sat amidst beanbags, packing cases and makeshift studios made from garden sheds, reading from The Dinner Club and Other Stories into a mike, with shoppers walking all around. I had to stop twice, for seagulls and a motorbike. It was a great success. The lesson? Use all media that come within your grasp.
3. I’ve held a signing in a dungeon.
In 2013 I did the In Other Words children’s storytelling weekend for Culture Liverpool, celebrating the reopening of Liverpool Central Library. I felt a bit intimidated at the prospect of the vast St George’s Hall, until I was told: “Well, actually, we’re going to put you in a hole under the organ.” The ‘hole’ was actually a cosy alcove and we had a fun reading from The (Fairly) Magic Show. I then went down to the dungeons (used for prisoners when the building housed the local Crown Court) and did a Waterstones signing. The lesson? You can read and sign anywhere.
4. I’ve held a Story Hunt around a church.
In 2017 I did some Creative Writing workshops for Wirral Youth for Christ. It was in a church hall and the Minister kindly let us hold a Story Hunt around the church itself. This is where you put the parts of a story on different colours of paper and kids find them like a treasure hunt, before using them to write their tale. I had characters under cushions and settings in hymn books. The lesson? If you can devise events for all ages, you’ll have a much wider audience.
5. I’ve had to explain I wasn’t going to sing.
I turned up for a book signing at a venue which will remain nameless, to find a sign that said: ROB KEELEY SINGING. On that day I had to disappoint attendees. But I think I kept more readers in the venue by not complying, and I signed quite a few books. The lesson? Make sure everything is well advertised, well in advance. At the same time, you can never quite predict what’s going to happen. Which brings me to number six...
6. Know your audience.
I did my first, and so far only, after-dinner speech in 2016, a grand affair for a local association where I was engaged to speak about my books. I’d also been asked to build my life story into the speech and included an off-the-cuff remark about it being the Conservative Party that launched me into full-time writing when it made me redundant from the voluntary sector amidst austerity cuts in 2011 (perfectly true). Only afterwards did I find out that the audience contained several Conservatives, including the election agent of our former Tory MP. I still sold masses of my books afterwards, for their kids and grandkids. The lesson? Sometimes you can get away with anything...
Rob Keeley is the author of: The Alien in the Garage and Other Stories (2011), The (Fairly) Magic Show and Other Stories (2012), The Dinner Club and Other Stories (2013), Childish Spirits (2014), The Spirit of London (2015), The Sword of the Spirit (2016), High Spirits (2017), The Coming of the Spirits (2018), My Favourite People (2018), Childish Spirits - eBook (2019), Childish Spirits - audiobook (2019) Learn more about Rob and his books here.