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What Gets Publicity for Fiction

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“It’s so much harder to
publicize a novel.” That’s the lament of many people who write and/or publish
fiction. Yes, it may be harder, but it’s by no means impossible. Try these


nonfiction hooks into novels.

Nonfiction, almost by definition, contains factual material you can use as
hooks to generate and leverage publicity: how-to books on golfing, for example,
can lend themselves to appearances on radio talk shows that reveal golfing
techniques; nonfiction guides about golden retrievers can become print articles
on caring for yours.


Novels can use the same sorts of
hooks if you consciously insert them. So think carefully about
passions—hobbies, pastimes, collections, pets—and whether any of them might be
integrated into a novel. If you know and care about golf, could one of the
book’s main characters be an avid golfer? If you love your dog, could a dog be
important in the plot? If so, you have a good chance of getting the same
broadcast and print coverage for the novel that you would for a nonfiction book
with elements of those sorts.


to your hooks.
Once you’ve got a
few good nonfiction hooks in a novel, plan your marketing efforts around them.
Focusing on that character who’s an avid golfer, you can pitch a novel at golf
conventions, golf shows, golf pro shops, and golf courses. Focusing on the dog,
you can find and market to the vast dog-loving audience.


real specifics.
The more real
items you can include in a novel, the broader your marketing options. So
mention real locations, real corporations, real associations—making sure, of
course, that you don’t say anything libelous, don’t violate rights of privacy
or publicity, and don’t infringe trademarks.


When a novel features real locations
and groups, you can try to sell it in those locations and make quantity sales
to those corporations and associations.


a program instead of a reading.

People tend to come to readings if the author is already famous. So what can a
good, but not-yet-famous, novelist do? Design an alternative with the novel’s
hooks and markets in mind. If a main character is a knitter, offer a knitting
event; if the story showcases a chef, put together a cooking demonstration.
Your target audience will probably be more interested in these kinds of
presentations than in readings, and you’ll probably sell more books and get
more word of mouth going.


on all special author assets.

Authors of novels can invite visitors to their Web sites to compete for a cameo
role in their next novels—and then harvest email addresses. Or they can walk
around busy resort towns or areas relevant to their books dressed as characters
from them and handing out promotional postcards. These are some novel ideas
that nonfiction writers really can’t touch.


Fern Reiss is CEO both of
PublishingGame.com, which offers books, workshops, and consulting on how to get
a literary agent and publish and promote a book, and of Expertizing.com, which
aims to teach people how to get more media attention for themselves and their
businesses. For more information and a free monthly email newsletter:



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