So you’re a little stumped?
Don’t know where to start?
Or just finished your manuscript and need advice on how to contact publishers? Mardi’s on hand to help you out.
Mark down 28th January in your diaries, writers… Alice Westlake’s mardi Twitter/Facebook takeover starts 9am and ends 9pm.
12 hours to ask your burning questions on the following topics (or on any other writing-related topic, no matter which stage of the writing process you are in:
- How to get starte
- How to establish a writing routine
- How to approach publishers
- How to get the best out of your editor
Ask your question on 28th January including the hashtag #askmardi and we’ll get back to you!
Who is Alice Westlake?
Alice is a winner of the Walker Books and Mumsnet story competition in 2014, judged by a panel led by former Children’s Laureate Anthony Browne
Author of two children’s novels, Under Loch And Quay, and Margin of Horror (out spring 2016).
BA Hons 1st class in English Literature and Language, and Masters in Literature from Queen Mary University London.
Mum to two avid readers of kids’ middle grade and young adult fiction, I know what children enjoy reading and have a broad knowledge of both the pre-school and age 7-12 markets.
I specialise in children’s literature, but can answer (or attempt to answer!) your questions on any aspect of authorship: the writing process, character development, plot development, language, dos and don’ts, editing and revising your work…
From April 2016 I will be launching a consultancy service hosted by Mardibooks. For the next three months we are offering you the opportunity to access this service for free for a trial period.
Alice is really looking forward to answering your questions so do get in touch: #askmardi
Read more about Alice Westlake and Under Loch And Quay. Follow her on twitter @hippyeverafter and check out her website at www.alicewestlake.com
Sue Benwell says
Please can you give me some advice on marketing books? My novel is to be published shortly (by Mardi) and although I use Facebook, I’m a bit worried about plugging the book via social media.
Hope you can advise me.
Alice Westlake says
Hi there Sue.
Why specifically are you worried about social media? It can be a great resource, though it has its limitations.
As I don’t know much about you or your book, I’m going to make a few assumptions.
Perhaps you are worried about privacy etc; or perhaps you are worried about blurring the boundaries between ‘personal’ and ‘professional’, annoying your friends with endless marketing posts.
I would suggest creating a separate professional page on facebook, specifically to promote your book (and any future ones). Invite your facebook friends to ‘like’ it, and no doubt many of them will – but it will be their choice. Your close friends can also invite their own fb friends to like your page, thus extending your reach.
As for twitter, go for it. There are lots and lots of book-related twitter accounts which you can follow and you will soon garner followers. Check out my twitter @hippyeverafter to see some of them. Ask a friend or relative who knows about twitter to show you how to schedule tweets, use hashtags etc. Don’t just push your book – share articles of interest and engage in discussions. For instance, in the world of children’s books there are hashtags such as #ukyachat so you can connect with other, similar authors and help each other out.
However just tweeting and posting about your book isn’t enough. It’s a very crowded marketplace, and the volume of tweets generated every day means that most get lost or have little impact.
Some other things you can do are:
Blogging. You can of course start your own blog, but only do this if you’re serious about it. Ideally your blog should have a ‘point’ to it or an angle, other than simply wanting to promote your book. This can be quite a lot of work to maintain, if all you really want to do is start writing your next novel. However, you can guest blog on Mardibooks and on other blogs, contributing occasional pieces which credit you and your book at the end. Make it something relevant to the story you’ve written. For instance, I wrote a children’s mystery adventure, Under Loch and Quay, which takes place during a summer holiday in Scotland. So I did a blog about summer holiday reading for kids. I published it on my own website and on Mardi’s blog, and I (almost) got it published on the Guardian Children’s Book website.
When putting together any kind of online marketing, from a tweet to a long blog post, you should aim to use lots of colourful images. You can use your front cover, a picture of yourself, and any other suitable images. If you have a little bit of money to spend, it is worth getting a couple of professional photos done. Also, if it is a blog post, leave plenty of white space.
Finally, try and engage with people face to face. See if you can do some readings. As well as Mardi’s occasional live events, there are bound to be things happening in your local area. For instance in South London there is an event called ‘Brixton Book Jam’ where authors can read excerpts from their books to an appreciative crowd.
I know this is really hard – I’m not the kind of person who likes to stand up on stage and read out my work. Tbh it was really hard for me to even show it to my husband and best friend at first. I have also found all the social media quite a steep learning curve; I’m not a natural self-publicist and it’s not really something I enjoy doing.
All I can say is that you have to keep on pushing yourself outside of your comfort zone and make yourself do it. When people ask you what you do, tell them “I’m a writer.” Get some cards made up and give them out. Pimp yourself shamelessly on social media – so long as you are generous about sharing other people’s stuff too. It does get easier – a little bit!
Good luck Sue – let me know how you get on, and I look forward to reading your book when it comes out.