Three Ways Promotion Has Helped Me Write My Next Book
Promoting my first book (which included a 35+ stop blog tour where I answered interview questions, wrote articles, and interacted with readers) taught me a lot about the writing process and what readers want to know about my books.
Whether your stories have been published or not, thinking about your book in terms of how you’d promote it can help you write the next one. Or help you figure out what needs tweaking in the current one. Or help you land an agent. Or help you sell it to a publisher.
1. You learn to convey what makes your characters and story interesting to readers.
Getting asked to describe your main characters is a fairly standard question. However, interviewers and blog readers aren’t looking for the basic hair color/eye color answers. They want to know what makes your characters tick.
Because you can’t be too spoilerish on a blog for people who haven’t read your book yet, you become good at explaining things on a high level.
Being able to describe your characters succinctly and in a compelling manner will hopefully cause someone to go out and buy your book, or it can help sell your story to agents and editors in your pitches and query letters.
Can you describe your character in a compelling manner using only a few sentences? What would a reader find interesting about him or her? What is his goal, motivation and backstory? What is his frame of mind when the story opens?
2. You learn how to identify and make use of compelling character-themes and tones.
On several blogs, I was asked to use three words to describe my hero. Sure, I could’ve said, “vampire, dark-haired, handsome,” but that’s totally boring. It’s not compelling, nor would it cause readers of the blog to sit up and take notice. I needed to dig deeper.
If you can put a finger on what it is you’re drawn to about your character, you can capitalize on subtle details that will make him or her come alive on the page.
I love heroes who are “haunted” and “seductive” and “mysterious,” and so do a lot of other readers. In my current story, I’m looking for areas to explore these character-themes—not only in how I describe him, but also in how I want the reader to feel and the tone I want to convey. “Mysterious” to me connotes danger, wariness and excitement, so those are emotions I might try to wrench from a particular scene.
I’ve been asked for my story in two sentences, three words to describe my character, a six word character memoir, and my story premise in Tweet length (140 characters).
Talk about getting rid of the fluff! But in doing so, it helps you to see what’s really important.
3. Determining your inspiration can help your story resonate with readers.
This is a common interview question: What was your inspiration? Again, I couldn’t give this totally boring answer: Because I like vampires.
So I examined what is it about vampires that I’ve found so compelling for such a long time—books, movies, television shows, costumes, etc. My sister reminded me that, back in high school, we watched the vampire movie Fright Night eight times in a row when it came out. Talk about obsessed!
I asked myself, what is it that keeps me coming back? Why do I find vampires so seductive and alluring?
Now, when a tone or a scene doesn’t seem quite right in a story I’m working on, I go back to these basics of what attracts me as a reader and it really helps.
You can also concentrate on your turning points. Why did you decide to set this major happening in this certain location? Or what was the inspiration behind XYZ happening in the first place? Then, capitalize on it.
I wrote a blog article about the cemetery I used for the inspiration of the first scene of the book. That in depth exploration (no, the article was short, but writing it caused me to think further) helped me to examine the setting choices in my current story. I often find myself asking what is the mood and emotion I want to convey via the setting.
So that’s it. Well, actually, I’ve learned other writing lessons in the course of promoting my book, but I thought I’d stop at three.
In a tip of the hat to our resident scientist Marie-Claude (as well as my daughter who is doing a massive science experiment in school right now), whenever you can boil things down to their essential elements, it helps you to understand them better. Effective promotion forces you to do exactly that.
I would like to give a signed copy of BONDED BY BLOOD to one lucky commenter in the US or Canada.
Bonded By Blood
Deep within the forests of the Pacific Northwest, two vampire coalitions battle for supremacy—Guardian enforcers who safeguard humanity and Darkbloods, rogues who kill like their ancient ancestors.
Movie location scout Mackenzie Foster-Shaw has always known that she’s cursed to die young. No one can protect her from the evil that has stalked her family for generations—vampires who crave her rare blood type. Until one afternoon in a wooded cemetery, she encounters an impossibly sexy stranger, a man she must trust with her life.
For Dominic, a man haunted by loss, Mackenzie satisfies a primal hunger that torments him—and the bond they share goes beyond heat, beyond love. She alone can supply the strength he needs to claim his revenge. But in doing so, he could destroy her
A graduate of Western Washington University with a BA in Business Administration and a former tester/programmer for a Fortune 500 company, Laurie London writes from her home near Seattle where she lives with her husband and two children.
She is a member of Romance Writers of America®, Greater Seattle Area RWA, RWAOnline, Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators, FF&P (RWA chapter devoted to all things paranormal), and two book clubs.
When not writing, she can be found running, reading, or riding and showing her horse. Someday she hopes to qualify for the Quarter Horse World Show – that is, if her horse doesn’t get hurt again.