I just hit the three month mark since my new Ethan Benson thriller, Live to the Network, hit the book stands, and I am anxiously awaiting the first sales figures from my publisher, Page Publishing, Inc. While I am eager and hopeful to find out if you, the reader, is buying my new novel, I am also realistic and know, since my title is not sold in brick-and-mortar bookstores and only at the major online distributors, that the numbers will probably be disappointing. Does that upset me? Yes, of course, but no, not really. Like most authors, I dream of writing a bestseller, of feeling that inner satisfaction of knowing that thousands of people are ordering my book and that it is selling like hotcakes. But experience tells me that this won’t be the case. And what’s the reason for that? Is my new thriller not well-written? Are my characters not realistic? Is the plotline not suspenseful? No. I don’t think those are the reasons why my sales figures will probably be meager at best. I think it’s probably based more on the realities of being an author in the Twenty-First Century and on the sheer number of titles I’m competing with in the age of the internet and the mass marketing of books.
Today, the competition for readers is fierce, and as a new author, the road to the traditional world of publishing is long and difficult. I played the game for a while, a very short while, but at my age—I’m pushing seventy and after spending the first forty years of my career as an award-winning journalist in television news—I decided what I really love is the art of writing itself, so I decided to embrace the new technologies and not worry about competing with the hordes of young writers who are scrambling to find a place in the old world of book publishing. Thus, I don’t have a literary agent, and I don’t have access to a major publishing company, and while Page Publishing, Inc. does an amazing job at editing my novels and making a beautiful product, they don’t have the resources to print large numbers of my thrillers and distribute them to the major brick-and-mortar bookstores around the country or spend gobs of money promoting and marketing my titles. That, my dear reader, is left entirely to me and my limited resources.
So, then, how do I promote my books?
And how do I get my thrillers, such as Live to the Network, out to the masses?
The answer is lots of hard work and lots of time embracing both the new technologies and the old world of book marketing that I can access on my own. I spend hours, and I do mean hours every day promoting my books on social media. I post on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads, and I try to build my followers and spread the word that my books are a good read. I send my novels out to bloggers and to newspapers and magazines and get a handful of reviews—most have been excellent, especially for Live to the Network—plus I take advantage of online literary newsletters like BookTrib and The Big Thrill that have both featured me and my new thriller in the past few months. Has all of this helped my book sales? Well, I really hope so but won’t know until I see my first numbers in the next few weeks.
But there is one avenue of promotion that I pursue with gusto, and I am pleased to say that after of years of hard work, it might finally be paying off. For each of my three Ethan Benson thrillers, Live to Air, Live to Tape, and Live to the Network, I have worked diligently to set up a book tour around the northeast where I live. For my first two books, the tours—while fun and exciting—were small, maybe ten or twelve independent bookstores in mostly small towns. But my current tour for Live to the Network has just exploded in both size and scope. I am already booked in over twenty stores and counting, and not only in the wonderful independent bookstores we all love and cherish, but in the bigger Barnes and Nobles where my sales have been brisk. I sold over a hundred books at the Barnes and Noble in Pittsfield, MA, and am now booked in the Barnes and Nobles in Holyoke, MA, West Hartford, CT, Westport, Ct., Albany, NY, Manhasset, NY, and am awaiting decisions from stores in both Manhattan and Philadelphia.
And that, my friends, is extremely exciting.
So does that mean my new novel is going to be a bestseller? That’s still probably just a pipe dream. But it does mean that all the writing and all the hard work may be starting to payoff. That my new Ethan Benson thriller, Live to the Network, may just be getting a little traction, and that when I do finally get my first sales numbers from my publishing company, I may just be pleasantly surprised. We’ll see what happens, and I’ll make sure to let you know as soon as I find out!