Authors and promotion – Open Access (Part 1)

It was an invigorating day at the New South Wales Writers’ Centre for their day-long symposium Open Access – Selling Your Book in the Digital Age. Thanks to the Copyright Agency (CAL) for their support in making the day possible.

The focus was on how authors promote themselves in the digital age. The landscape is changing quite rapidly and the day bought together authors, marketing and publicity experts, publishers and industry professionals.

On Don’t Get Left on the Shelf I presented some of the concepts that would be expanded upon through the day. I spoke from two different points of view – as a trainer and teacher of authors and also as an author.


Sarah Allen was kind enough to write a blog post outlining most of my presentation.

Russian-Tapestry-Banafsheh SerovOn the panel with me was Banafsheh Serov, bookseller and author. It was fascinating to hear how she put so much effort to promoting her first book, a biography detailing life in Iran and why her family made the decision to leave. Originally self-publishing, Banafsheh attracted the interest of Hachette who published Under a Starless Sky and her more recent Russian Tapestry.  I’ve only just finished Russian Tapestry and found it engrossing and a wonderful glimpse into the life of those who lived through those times – including her husband’s family. Banafsheh is owner and manager of the independent chain of bookstores – Your Bookshop – so understands publishing from both sides.

The Author as PR Machine featured author and publisher David Henley, freelance writer, author and blogger Allison Tait, writer and journalist Brendan Shanhan and author Alex Hammond.









Some interesting information came out of this session including the fact that publishers now expect authors to often produce a book a year – or less. There was a definite ripple through the attendees at this insight!

Allison had a career as a writer but new to fiction when a friend suggested she start a blog to get a corner of the internet so she had a cheer squad when her book was published. I love that idea! Writing daily, she soon built up a thriving online community that she is convinced helped her land a publishing contract. Not everyone is able to devote as much energy to blogging as Allison demonstrated, but I agree that every writer should be in charge of their own online presence. In fact even publishing guru Jane Friedman mentioned this recently!

There was an interesting point made on this panel about publicity differences between fiction and non-fiction books. Fiction writers can try and obtain reviews, but for non-fiction there can be more of a ‘story’ about the subject they write about. This strikes a cord for me as I am frequently asked to write or present about crowdfunding and that gives an opportunity to have my book mentioned. Naturally I hope some of the readers will purchase Crowdfund it!

Alex Hammond shared that he used Blogger as his blogging platform – not because it’s a great platform but because it’s owned by Google and it is free SEO (Search Engine Optimisation). I hadn’t thought of that so for those just venturing into the blogosphere that is something to consider. He mentioned that it is the same with Google+ – while not many people seem to use it, it does help with search results.

When responding to the question of how often to promote yourself on social media, Allison Tate suggested promoting yourself one in twenty tweets.

Blogging gives Allison the opportunity to promote on social media, driving people to her website where she has a link to purchase her book. All sensible advice!

On a side note – I’m about halfway through The Hunt for Pierre Jnr and it rates highly with me. Put it this way, I’m including it in the ‘read while brushing teeth’ category because I’m reading it any chance I get!

In my next update from Open Access I will feature How Did You Sell That Book? Publicity Campaign Case Studies with  author Chris Allen and his ‘Secret Social Marketing Weapon’, wife Sarah Allen along with Debbie Mcinnes, Director of DMCPRMedia and Management Consultant and author Andrew O’Keeffe    

What promotional tool has worked for you as a writer? Let me know in the comments!

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