Writing a book is no small feat. It’s really, really, really hard. A hundred thousand words one sentence at a time, each page speckled with blood, sweat, tears and intersecting coffee rings. You can’t sleep at night because your head is so full of ideas, and then you can’t stay awake long enough during the day to get those ideas down. Should you ever manage to finish your opus, you can’t spare a moment to relax, because now you must edit your book until it makes enough sense for other people to read it, condense the entire story down to a 500-word synopsis, hunt for an agent or a publisher in the face of astronomically bad odds and, if you’re lucky enough to jump all those hurdles, go back and work on your book again. Then there’s page proofs, deciding who to leave out of the acknowledgements, drastic dieting for the book launch…etc. etc. The list goes on.
And those are just the easy bits. After all that, you have to get out there and convince people to buy it. But how?
Enter Jane Wenham-Jones’ new book, Wannabe a Writer We’ve Heard Of?, the follow up to her fantabulous Wannabe a Writer? which I named my Number One How To Write a Book Book Ever back in February. (Jane is still reeling from receiving such an amazing honor…)
“An essential read for every author, whether established or debut, self-published or still dreaming of the limelight. In today’s celebrity-driven world, self-confessed media tart Jane Wenham-Jones takes us on an uproarious ride along the publicity trail from getting the perfect promotional photo to choosing clothes to wear on TV. With anecdotes from Jane’s own numerous media exploits, Wannabe a Writer We’ve Heard Of? is packed with tips and tricks to help you get yourself noticed, gain maximum column inches and airtime and create online buzz for your books and projects. Offering advice and insights from writers, journalists, publicists and celebrities who’ve been there and done that, this is the ultimate guide for anyone longing for fame and success.”
Like all Jane’s writing, this book is hilarious and great fun to read. But more importantly its filled to the rafters – or page edges – with ideas, tips, tricks and advice on (i) how to let people know that you exist and (ii) somehow convince them that their lives will remain incomplete unless they purchase at least one copy of your book. It covers everything from what I consider to be the bare minimum in terms of writerly self-promotion (blogging, tweeting, book-launch-party-having) to sweet-talking your way onto TV and radio shows, and offering your news-worthy opinions to every newspaper and magazine in the country as a way to plug your book. It also has advice from authors, booksellers, editors and agents – including (drum roll, please) little old me.
Here’s what I like most about this book: it’s realistic. This is what you have to do – at the very least – to shift copies of your books from the shelves. As Jane points out herself in the book’s introduction, you might wonder if you want to buy a book about becoming a writer people have heard of that’s written by a writer you yourself might not have heard of. (‘I know what you’re thinking,’ Jane writes. ‘Jane Wenham-Jones, I hear you snort. I haven’t heard of her. Maybe not. But look at it this way, dear reader. You have now…’ Exactly!) But would you bother reading self-promotion advice shared by the likes of Dan Brown, Stephen King, Stephanie Meyer or J.K. Rowling? I know I wouldn’t, because they don’t have to do any! It’s the “mid-list” authors whose books sell well but work to move each copy that we should be listening to, because they’re the ones who have to work at it and, clearly, their efforts are highly effective.
Jane practices what she preaches – seize every promotional opportunity, however how small – and so said yes to me when I asked her to answer a few short questions for us:
Me: What motivated you to write Wannabe a Writer We’ve Heard Of?
Jane: It seemed a natural progression from the first tome Wannabe a Writer? because I sometimes do feel these days that writing the damn book is the least of it! Also I like to get maximum mileage out of everything I do. Over the course of three novels, hundreds of short stories and what feels like about a thousand columns of varying quality, I’ve written about pretty much everything that’s ever happened to me but there was still some over. What was I going to do with the stranger anecdotes – like the time I had to shave my legs on camera, stood on a box at speakers corner or bought the wrong potatoes?
M:What’s the key to being an effective media tart?
J: Be brave and bold. Remember that its not very nice if someone says NO but you won’t die from it.
M: What have you found to be the three most effective things you can do to promote your book?
J: Newspaper articles, radio interviews and getting others talking about it online.
M: What in your opinion should you definitely NOT do?
J: Be boring, bang on about it endlessly on Twitter, begin every sentence with “When I wrote my THIRD novel…”
M: Can you just remind us, as you’re here, which contributor appeared the most times in the index? [Cough, cough]
J: Ah, who was it now? Irish girl, name escapes me… she writes a decent blog – bit of a self-publishing guru… knows how to promote herself… taught me a thing or two. It will come to me… 🙂