Thursday, August 29, 2013

Book Tour

Today's post is by Luke Bellmason, and I personally think he's got a splendid idea.

Canterbury Pilgrims
Last week my good friends at The Sucker’s Guild held a meeting and we discussed promotion ideas; which web-sites to sign-up to, what kind of thing blog readers like to read, etc.

The web is a great promotional tool, but after the meeting I started thinking about how I could get out there in the “Real World” to promote my books, to meet real people. My plan has always been to build a ‘following’ of folks who like my books and who will tell others about them. It’s a long slow process, though I am promoting myself on all kinds of web-sites – FacebookTwitterGoodreads,Readwave – but I know that one of the most important factors in promotion is ‘word of mouth’.
In one sense, it’s easier to sell your own work. If you’re writing the kind of stuff you enjoy as a reader, like I am (corporate sell-outs stop reading now!) then you should have a fairly strong belief in your product. You know it’s awesome right? So all you have to do is persuade everyone else it’s awesome.
In marketing they have a phrase ‘unique selling point’. This is the one distinguishing feature that your product has which no other product has. It sets your product apart from the rest and makes it stand out. In my case I think the USP for The Canterbury Tales is the ‘tales’ themselves. They are based on the idea of storytelling, of a story teller sitting in front of group of people and speaking. Story telling has fascinated me for a long time because it’s such a basic thing; everybody tells stories.
Go out into a bunch of people in a pub, your local store or cafe and you’ll hear people telling stories. Mostly (but not always)the stories they tell are true, or partly true with some embellishments, exaggerations and omissions. We all learn this skill, some people get very good at it. They learn what part of the ‘story’ works by observing the reactions they get from their audience. They will re-tell that story many times, if it’s a good one, and will change they way it’s told ever so slightly based on these reactions.
Story telling predates even the written word, stories were around long before we had books, but when we did start writing these oral stories into books we had the problem of permanence. Words in a book cannot be changed, sections cannot be left out if the reader shows signs of boredom – sections cannot be added or changed if the reader enjoys what they’re reading. Of course, this may become possible one day with the technology offered to us by eBooks and smart devices.
Each tale in my book is told in first person and they could be read out, I would even say they ‘should’ be read out. All of the story telling events I’ve looked for in my area, however, are related to folk-tales, historical fiction and traditional stories. There doesn’t seem to be sci-fi action/adventure story telling scene; that kind of thing seems to be the preserve of podcasts and youtube. (Ok, so that’s another idea in itself.)
So I am toying with the idea of doing readings from the Canterbury Tales, perhaps in libraries or coffee shops or to local sci-fi groups. The obvious thing to do would be to read the finished ones, but should I consider something even more radical? Should I read the ones I haven’t finished yet, should I even have them written down? Might it be an interesting experiment to come up with a basic outline then attempt to tell the story in character from a synopsis?
Ok, now consider that I am on a sort of pilgrimage myself while I am doing this. This summer I rode from my home by bike out to the Malverns. I took a tent, a sleeping bag and a couple of sets of clothes and I cycled for about a week through tiny villages along back roads. It was such an amazing thing to do and I got fit into the bargain. I’ve done some back of the envelope calculations and worked out that the distance I rode to Malvern and back would have been about the same as from here to Canterbury in the south-east of England.
So, I thought, what about a cycling book tour next summer? By then, I am hoping to have another four stories ready for volume 2 and I would maybe have another couple ready as ‘ideas’ roughly sketched out. I could stay in hostels, which are a lot better for meeting people than hotels or even camp-sites.
I’m sure it would give me a lot of things to write about too. One of the things about this year’s holiday was I didn’t take anything electronic; no iPad, no phone, no laptop. This time I could take some devices with me and live-blog the trip as I go. I actually think the iPad would weigh less than the book and notebook I took with me this year. I think I should also use my time on the road to read Geoffrey Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales as well.
On the way round I might be able to find places to let me do readings. I am certain I will get to hear other people’s stories too, though not necessarily sci-fi ones, and just maybe I will meet people who will become fans and will tell all their friends about the crazy writer guy who cycled to Canterbury.

No comments:

Post a Comment