Michaeline: Books, fans and fantasy marketing

This week, Lois McMaster Bujold announced on her blog the long-awaited coming of a New Book. Then she announced it on her mailing list, which is where I heard about it.

She wrote:

I am pleased to report that a new Cordelia Vorkosigan novel has been sold to Baen Books for publication, tentatively, in February of 2016.

The title is Gentleman Jole and the Red Queen.

It is not a war story. It is about grownups.

And that is probably all I ought to say right now in a venue read by the spoiler-sensitive. It is, after all, a long haul till next February.

2016 will also mark the 30th anniversary of my first publication by Baen, which ought to be good for a little PR fun.

Ta, L.

Spread the word: a new book is coming from Lois McMaster Bujold! Gentleman Jole and the Red Queen.

Spread the word: a new book is coming from Lois McMaster Bujold! Gentleman Jole and the Red Queen.

And then my corner of the internet exploded! It exploded with joy and speculation, and being that she was preaching to the choir, there was much singing in the form of harmonious squeeing.

Bujold has written, by my count, 24 novels and two collections of short stories. Shards of Honor came out in 1986, so Bujold’s award-winning career has been long and fruitful. She’s got an established fanbase, and a good reputation in her genres. With that said, it still came as a little bit of a surprise when she said she was going to try to avoid PR slogs like tours for this book.

She’s got great reasons, but one of the most interesting was when she said that received wisdom is that only 20 percent of marketing matters, but the powers-that-be don’t know which 20 percent is effective, so the recommendation is that authors do all of it.

There are some authors who don’t do any. J.D. Salinger and Harper Lee were famously reclusive, and even went to the extent of not publishing.

Sometimes PR works in unusual ways. A November 29, 2008 Independent (UK) interview quotes Terry Pratchett as saying, “If I’d known what a progressive brain disease could do for your PR profile I may have had one earlier.”

And then there are those authors who feel like PR work has overwhelmed their creative life.

I don’t have a book ready for publication, so you must understand that I’m speaking strictly from the armchair. But it seems to me that the best PR is something that’s going to do a double-duty.

Always wanted to see Washington, D.C.? Plan a vacation there, and ask your publisher (or do the legwork yourself) to look for bookstores who might want you to do a signing.

Like conventions? Go, and bring bookmarks or some little useful thing to promote your book.

Love blogging? Blog about your book, of course, and add background history (I really like the blogs for the Rivers of London series by Ben Aaronovitch. Especially this one which explains a little bit about what a Ford Asbo is.  You can also go on blogging tours and blog for other people.

And of course, the best marketing strategy of all is to have written excellent books, and have a built-up fan base that is willing to spread the word, and make sock puppet theater to illustrate key scenes. Well, that’s my dream strategy. First, gotta write 25 excellent books. BRB.

LOL, the cart is indeed in front of the horse. But what’s your dream strategy for marketing your WIP?

(It occurs to me that I’ve been quite internet-y, and included a lot of acronyms in this post. ASBO — Anti-Social Behavior Order. Maybe Jilly can explain this one, but apparently it’s a restraining order for hoodlums who bother old ladies with their unruly ways? BRB — be right back in the insanely optimistic sense. LOL — Laugh Out Loud. Why, yes. I’m a completist, LOL. WIP — Work in Progress)

(Also, some of you may have noticed it’s not my day. Kat will be back next week.)

14 thoughts on “Michaeline: Books, fans and fantasy marketing

  1. Not that I’m an expert in UK law or anything (particularly since I’m at roughly the other end of the planet), but I’m sure I’ve heard of the occasional ASBO _also_ being applied to said Little Old Ladies, to stop them playing Bach at hearing-impaired volumes and annoying said hoodlums, whose taste in music may differ. Quite frankly, I’m with the hoodlums on the topic of Bach, but they do sound like a spot of mediation and common sense might be a better choice.

    I read The Guardian occasionally – the English are immensely amusing 🙂

      • From the outside, in the US people often seem to solve their differences with escalating violence, whereas in the UK people seem to solve their differences with escalating eccentricities – much more fun to read about!

        Oh, and Squeee!!!! re the new Bujold 🙂

        • (-: I know! I’m starting to plan what to make for supper the Day Before the E-Arc Comes Out. It will have to last the family for 48 hours while I read obsessively, recuperate with long naps, and read again. (Assuming the E-Arc is offered. But it’s Baen . . . it’ll probably be offered, right? Hope?)

        • We need a ‘like’ button for comments – escalating eccentricities sums us up perfectly! And your definition of an ASBO is good too – can be applied to any kind of anti-social behavior, though generally it’s kids with too much time on their hands hanging around and behaving badly though not criminally.

          Have to confess that we had a very anti-social neighbour (years ago). He used to keep us awake till stupid hours when we both had to work in the morning, and no amount of persuasion did any good. If he’d been particularly bad I used to pep myself up with the final movement of Beethoven 9 around breakfast time. Full volume. Sometimes with sing-a-long. Ode to Joy, indeed 😉 .

          Very good news about the new book for all you Bujold fans 🙂 . Hope it turns out to be worth the anticipation (I’m sure it will). So impressive that she’s delivered the goods over 30 years, and with the same publisher.

  2. Last Saturday I attended the local RWA meeting in Columbus and heard the term “steet crew” for the first time. As far as I can tell, a street crew is a group of fans who can be organized and dispatched to generate buzz and increase sales. Sounds like Ms. Bujold has an impressive street crew!

    (BTW–that’s my dream marketing strategy–a street crew that will sell my books for me so I can concentrate on writing more books.) My secondary (and slightly more realistci strategy is to teach craft classes (Plottting 101)–which will help me build a street crew.

    • (-: I think she does. Perhaps one worry might be that they may be a little too . . . creative. But I haven’t heard of her fans doing anything more aggressive than rearranging the bookshelves at the bookstore.

  3. Congratulations to all the Lois McMaster Bujold fans on the release of another book! This is my dream: to have enough books published in big enough numbers that I can say to my publisher, “Yeah, don’t think I’ll do a book tour this time, thanks just the same.” Then you’d know you’d really made it. 🙂

  4. My dream strategy is to have a publisher foot the bill for a European book tour so I can tool around to multiple countries, see amazing sites, enjoy local cuisine and color, make an idiot of myself trying to learn a few phrases in the languages of the different countries…oh, and maybe hawk a few books here and there :-). Not likely to happen EVER, giving the current state of book marketing supported by publishers, but a girl can dream!

    • (-: I wouldn’t mind backpacking through Europe and visiting bookstores along the way on my own dime. I think I’d need more luggage than I would have had if I’d done it while I was younger. I understand that one big problem with touring is that very little writing is possible. Still, one of my dreams is to go on a walking tour where I write every morning, walk two miles to the next village, kick around a bit, and then get in bed in plenty of time to get up for the next morning . . . . I wonder what would come to the surface with a plan like that . . . .

      • Oh yes! Apparently there is a walk you can do across England, from coast to coast (well, it is a titchy country), and you can stay at what they call a ‘gastropub’ (which in Australian doesn’t really sound right) every night. Sounds wonderful 🙂

        • I can’t remember where I picked up the idea . . . it was probably about the same time that I first read Dorothy Sayers book where we meet Harriet Vane, who has taken a walking tour to relax when . . . . It just amazes me to think of being able to walk across a country over an extended vacation. And didn’t Eddie Izzard run all the way around Britain in about two months?

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