It’s hard out there for an author. There seem to be more of us than ever before, and we ARE SHOUTING. ALL. THE. TIME. in order to be heard above the cacophony. Books for sale! we cry. Well-crafted, edited, smut-filled books for sale!
To save yourself another scratchy throat (or worn-down capslock key), here are some innovative suggestions that are sure to thrust your book right out to the head of the slavering, ravening pack. Innovate your platform! Paradigm your author brand! Some other business-y sounding word or catchphrase!
1. Print out rectangular stickers with your name in an eye-catching font. Take these to your nearest bookstore, and place them carefully on the most attractive book covers over the name of the original author. “Gee, this Penelope Fotheringay must really be something!” people will say. “Look at how many books she’s written! And I’ve heard such good things about this Moby-Dick one!”
2. Get thee a Street Team, like the Avon Addicts or the Entangled Mafia, so you can harness the power of groupthink and subterfuge in service of greater personal profit and notoriety. I’m sure keeping a gaggle of volunteers happy and organized will not use up all of your valuable and much-guarded writing time! Try and make your team name sound as ‘urban’ as possible, with allusions to violence and drug use — examples: the Fortheringay Gangstas, or Penelope’s Pimps — because Street Teams originated with primarily black urban musical genres like rap and hip-hop and are therefore a totally natural marketing strategy for the overwhelmingly white and suburban/rural authors of genre romance. I mean, it’s not like there’s a lengthy history of white appropriation/exploitation of black music and culture to make us rethink this, right?
3. Have the Fotheringay Ganstas tattoo their faces, hands, or other visible body parts with QR codes linking to excerpts from your book. QR codes are so hip right now!
4. Going to a holiday gift exchange? What better gift could there be than a print copy of your latest masterpiece? After all, it’s the thought that counts — and you should always be thinking of increasing your brand’s exposure.*
5. On Twitter? #TheBestWayToGetNoticed is to #HashtagEverything. #AccuracyBeDamned. #freebooks #free #solidarityisforwhiteauthors #whateverstrending #tcot
6. You’ve heard of blog tours, right? Pshaw — old hat. What you need is a bus tour! Simply procure an all-day bus pass, wear comfy shoes, and hop from route to route in your city while loudly hawking your book to weary commuters and handing out business cards with QR codes like they’re going out of style.** Everyone wants things to read on the bus, so this is a target-rich market and will definitely have no social or legal repercussions.
7. Try writing a character interview, which is a basely promotional post where authors answer questions in the personae of their hero/heroine as though professional publishing is no different than an assignment for their 7th grade Advanced English class. To make your character interview really stand out, have your own characters interview characters from best-selling, big-name authors, to prove your characters are better. Suggestions: Christian Grey (great for SEO), Fitzwilliam Darcy (for the lucrative fan-fic demographic), or Jamie Frasier from Outlander (make sure to ask about the rape scene!).
8. Collect pen names like they’re Pokemon cards: one for romantic suspense, one for erotic romance, one for sweet Regencies, one for paranormals, one for New Adult, one for steampunky space opera ménages with squidshifters, sexbots, and a disgraced engineer heroine.*** For bonus points, create a group blog with all your pen names for sneaky self-promo and sock-puppeting.
Good luck, and good sales!
*I saw an author do this. At a white elephant gift exchange for other writers, many of whom (including myself) are professionally published. It was indescribably tacky. And I’m not just saying that because I’m the one who ended up with that ‘gift.’
**Which they are.
*** Patent pending.