Sunday, 4 January 2015

Does media coverage lead to book sales? by Alice Jolly

Happy New Year to everyone. I've just been reading some of the posts on Authors Electric and am fascinated by the range of subject matter and the breadth of experience on display. It really is amazing to be able to draw on so much experience and share in other writers' creative processes. I can only thank all the people who are contributing.

As for me, the New Year got off to a good start as my book (or rather the story that lies behind the book) was featured in the Daily Mail. I have to say that the Mail is not my favourite paper but, of course, I'm grateful for the publicity.

Also, when I had to go to the offices of the Mail with my three year old daughter for the photo shoot, the staff were all wonderfully friendly and highly professional. They spent hours turning us into 'Daily Mail' people. Even my own family can hardly recognise us. Yes, the camera does lie.

However, it turns out the article isn't the end of the story. I now find that the Mail on-line has linked to the video on the Unbound website. I know nothing about how the media works really but I'm told that the Mail on-line has a huge readership.

You might suppose from this that the level of subscriptions for the book has shot up. It hasn't. So far I have the grand total of two new subscribers - and one of those is a person who I half-know anyway. Uuum.

I remember talking to a very well known agent about my book over a year ago. He said to me, 'This is the kind of book which will attract a lot of media attention but it won't sell.' I was shocked by his comment but also very interested. I had always supposed that media coverage equals sales. Apparently that isn't necessarily the case.

I did always know that the book would attract media attention. At the time when we went to the High Court to get my name on our daughter's birth certificate, we were contacted by the press often. I wasn't interested in talking about our experience at the time and I was worried that publicity might prejudice our case.

Now I'm happy to talk to anyone. I don't mind about the sales from a financial point of view because the money will go to charity. But I do want the book to sell well so that it will make it easier to sell another book. I can only hope that the gloomy agent will be proved wrong.

Anyway, I am very close now to raising all the money I need (only another 11% to go). So what happens next? The book goes into production. I suppose that means editing, proof reading, cover design etc. I know that when I was published by Simon & Schuster, I was largely a by stander in the process.

How will it work with Unbound? I don't know but I'm looking forward to finding out. I also know that an independent publicist will be appointed to work on the book. I'll be interested to see how that works, what exactly that person does, and when.

I also have big decision to make about a novel I've written, which is enormously close to my heart, took me eight years to write, and is currently residing in a drawer. What am I am going to do with it? I want it out there one way or another - but what realistically are the options?

I long to live in uninteresting times.


Sandra Horn said...

You don't really. do you Alice? (Long to live in uninteresting times, that is). I was rivetted by your Daily Mail interview and I wish you all the luck in the world with the book and the novel. Eight years? Is that all? I could tell you a tale or two...

Susan Price said...

Alice - give us links to your Mail article and your Unbound site. Make it easy for us!

Lydia Bennet said...

I'm not totally surprised you didn't get a mass of subscribers from a Daily Mail article - their readers might read about someone connected with books, not necessarily read the books involved! Still I'm glad you got some publicity and it may help indirectly by making your name known to the media. Interesting post - amazing how many aspects there are to publishing both e and otherwise.

Mari Biella said...

Very interesting - I always assumed that publicity automatically led to sales, but increasingly I'm hearing that that isn't necessarily so. Still, a feature in one of the most read papers in Britain can't have done any harm, I suppose. Good luck!

Nick Green said...

I think there is a snowball effect. One article may not lead to any direct sales. But it may mean that next time they see or hear your name, readers make a connection. Perhaps four or five such connections then adds up to one sale. Or something like that.

Alice said...

Thanks very much for the comments. I have now added in a link and a photo. Sorry. I should have done that originally. I agree with the points here. It's like that old saying about advertising. 80% of it is wasted but you don't know which 80%. I think it also depends on the publication. I have a good friend who is a writer who wrote a novel which is about an older woman who has an affair with a younger man. The publishers pushed her to talk to the tabloids because the book was partly autobiographical. Dreadful articles came out about 'Sexy ***** and her luscious toy boy ...' My friend isn't that kind of person at all and she felt like dirt. Worse than that it did nothing for book sales at all. But she rightly said afterwards that the people who read those kind of articles don't buy books. There is also (as the gloomy agent told me) a big difference between something you want to read a 1000 word article about and something you want to read a whole book about. I suppose we all know that for ourselves. Thanks again for the comments. I don't long to live in uninteresting times but I do long to just get on and write rather than dealing with publishing etc. But I suppose that's what everyone wants and no-one gets.

Guernsey Girl said...

I really enjoyed your honesty here, Alice. We all think we want book sales, but we only want the right kind of publicity. As a former journalist, I can see it from both sides. Who said no publicity was bad publicity?