Daunted by Book Promotion? Don’t be.

March 20, 2014 | By | 30 Replies More

71idj+4QYxL._SL1000_I am a dreamer.

When two years ago I was told that Julian Fellowes, the writer and creator of Downton Abbey had a sister who lived in Chipping Campden, I believed it was destiny.

My novel is set in Chipping Campden, I live in Chipping Campden, he was obviously meant to write the film script to ‘Burnt Norton’.

With this in mind, I summoned up the courage to ring him. Sunday was not the most appropriate time to call a complete stranger and ask them to write the screenplay to an as yet unpublished novel. But Julian was charming and solicitous and if surprised he did not show it.

He suggested I send him the book to read and a month later he took me out to lunch accompanied by his wife Emma. Over lunch and a large glass of wine to calm my nerves, he told me that he really liked my novel, and yes, when he had time he would write my film script.

First however the book had to be a big success. He suggested that he would also write my forward. So far so very good. A year later with Head of Zeus a great publisher behind me, my book was launched.

I gave a speech, Julian gave a speech and there it was, my book had arrived. You may laugh but I had never thought beyond the launch. Until then it was edits and more edits, writes and re-writes. I had never gone beyond this. Suddenly there it was, my book was out there and I was scared.

Caroline Sandon Burnt Norton“How do you feel?” Julian asked me after the launch. I told him I was deflated because it was all over. He looked at me amazed. What he said next would haunt me.

“If you think it is over Caroline then it is over. What you do now will either make or break your novel. It is up to you to promote it. Your publisher can help, but they will have fifty other books to publicise. You are the one who must do it otherwise it will sink without trace.”

It was a great learning curve. My agent told me I had to start using Twitter and Facebook. I had never used either. My publisher said I needed to start blogging. I had never blogged.

For me writing has always been easy: I can immerse myself in my imaginary world. Social Media is another thing entirely.

The mistakes I made when putting up my Facebook profile are apparently still there. I believe I go to an all boys school. I can’t seem to take it down. I have sent Facebook messages to the wrong people and my son called me a muppet which got 32 “likes”.

Caroline Sandon

Caroline Sandon

But I am struggling on. Emily who is now at university, is my twitter adviser and indeed she has instructed me on the art of blogging. “It is a conversation,” she said. “You are not writing a novel.”  I am now beginning to enjoy blogging, and I have done several.

Besides venturing into social media, I  also got in touch with  radio stations, book festivals and book clubs to promote my book.

It was daunting in the beginning, especially the first festival I attended. The famous actress who had written a cook book and was speaking at a food festival, pulled out at the last moment, and I was asked to step in. There was one rather large problem; if you are speaking at a food festival it is probably advisable to like cooking.

Having been a model (years ago) calories have been something to avoid, not eat! However I did surmount the problem by reading a passage from my book which described an 18th century dinner party, and afterwards telling the audience the downside of eating seven courses in suffocating corsets.

I have since  spoken at several festivals. My first interview on BBC Scotland I believe is still on i player. It was scary yes, but actually if I am honest I enjoyed it. Perhaps I am an exhibitionist after all..

Don’t be daunted  book promotion, see it as part of novel writing,  another creative process to venture into.

Caroline Sandon won her first national poetry competition at the age of ten, and from that moment dreamt of being a writer. Her life however took a different turn. At eighteen she began a law degree and only a year later got married. She left the law to become a model in the fashion industry and a few years later she gave up modeling to devote more time to her children and to become an interior designer.

Fifteen years ago she moved with her husband and seven children and stepchildren to Burnt Norton. With the children growing up, Caroline had at last the time and the material to write her first novel, Burnt Norton.  Her second novel is due to be published next year.

Follow her on twitter @CarolineSandon

Gloucestershire, 1731. When his youngest son is killed in a tragic accident, Sir William Keyt, master of Norton House, busies himself in his fortune. The building of a second mansion in his grounds defies expense and denies mortality; an emblem of the Keyt name for generations to come. 1741 his beautiful new mansion becomes his funeral pyre.

‘A powerful story, beautifully told, of love and betrayal, greed and tragedy, which is all the more intriguing because it is rooted in truth.’ 
JULIAN FELLOWES, creator of Downton Abbey



Category: By Current and Past Sponsors, Contemporary Women Writers, How To and Tips, On Book Marketing

Comments (30)

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  1. Very impressed!
    Re Festivals – does one just write to the organiser and offer to speak? I hate the thought of seeming cheeky. Should one send a copy of the book? Advice welcomed!

  2. nicole quinn says:

    Congratulations for honoring the way your stars aligned. You still had to make the call.

    Thanks too for the important reminders about marketing. The dream is for the work to find its own audience, but often its only hard work that makes dreams come true.

    Sometimes, I try to look at the Facebook/twitter/pinterest/blog pages as creating the social world of the book, and its underlying themes, the visual world, what it looks like. Sometimes I forget to actually market the book.

    • caroline sandon says:

      Dear Nicole how right you are. I think for most authors writing is the joy and marketing the harder task. Certainly it has been for me, however some of the marketing brings its own rewards. I was in India before Christmas speaking at the Times of India Lit Festival. Everyone I met was charming and welcoming, however I did wonder if speaking 4000 miles away was entirely necessary. In retrospect I believe it has to be. We need to get ourselves known in the wider market. Unless you are one of the very lucky few the ground work has to be done. That instant glorious success is a very rare commodity.

  3. You are a brave woman, Caroline! And because of that, you will do well. Very few of us relish book promotion, but you are right that we must fight for our creations. Good luck to you.

  4. Social media is at first a challenge and then it’s a way of life but it is also very time consuming ~ having a human side ~ reaching out to people and engaging rather than promoting ~ sometimes you feel split into many different pieces but then there’s the joy of a Facebook follower who gives you instant feedback about your writing, the person who searches on google for something and finds your blog then takes the trouble to write an email ~ the other writers on parallel journeys who are so supportive. Mind you, this morning was the first time I found time to write creatively for a couple of months ~ it needs to be put in perspective. I’m glad you have supportive people who can see you through the maze of it all, otherwise it can be rather daunting. All the best Diana

  5. Good to be reminded I’m not the only one who finds it daunting, and, to keep it about the books.

    • The more I do the less terrifying it becomes. You just have to remind yourself that 99 percent of the people who come to hear you talk do so because they want to hear what you have to say, not to see you fail.

  6. Thank you for this post – I do find book promotion daunting, especially as my latest is a non-fiction offering about spiritual experiences and discoveries. It does help to know that I am not alone and that it does get easier… I love talking to people, but this social media thing is a bit more challenging for me 🙂

    • Social media was incredibly challenging for me too. My kids don’t really like me checking on them, so facebook until now was a closed door and I didn’t tweet. I have to admit I now love twitter. I have met so many new and interesting people and it is a wonderful way to reach out to the wider world. It’s quite funny I am now the one checking on my tweets while the kids do facebook. You do have to get out there fiction non fiction, people need to learn about your book and so far everyone has been very kind.

      • My three little boys are not on Facebook yet but I can imagine how strange it will be when they are. I find this need for reviews daunting – how do you approach that??

        • With difficulty because your book is so personal and you have tried to do your best and if someone tears it apart it is heartbreaking. I was told by Julian Fellowes’ wife that she always reads his reviews first, a very good policy, so you can see that even at the top the writers are vulnerable. We all are.

        • PS time goes so quickly, it may be a different form of social media by the time they are old enough to enjoy it.

  7. Thank you so much for this piece – I do find book promotion daunting, and I find it so helpful to read advice from others who share this experience. My book is a non-fiction offering, about personal spiritual experiences, which makes it even more daunting… 🙂

  8. Alyce wilson says:

    I loved the story about the Muppet comment. That may not really have been a bad thing, though. From what I understand, building an author’s platform comes, at least in part, from helping the potential readers to know more about you.

    • I’m sure thats true. I enjoy knowing what makes a particular author tick, what makes them laugh. Knowing more about the writer also helps when reading their books, for me anyway.
      Thanks so much Alyce. Are you a writer?

  9. Mary Rowen says:

    Wow, Caroline, your post is so inspiring. Like Lori above, I also don’t know if I would’ve had the guts to call Julian Fellowes. I’m getting ready to launch my first novel with a publisher in April (I’ve self-pubbed in the past) and would love for some local luminaries to help promote it. But the hardest part is asking. Twitter and Facebook make it fairly easy to get the contact info for almost anyone, but the real challenge is hitting that “send” key.

    • Trust me I know that, but if you can find any connection to them, go for it. Yes scary but it is your first published novel, it was mine. You need that validation. I was incredibly lucky but I can’t tell you how long I stood by that phone before making the call.

  10. Lori says:

    I wonder if it ever becomes easier. Self promotion feels like asking for favors from people who don’t owe you a thing, and it’s terrifying to me. I would have never had to guts to make that phone call. But it does help to read such success stories. Maybe I’ll build up some courage too.

    • To start with, the thought of self promotion was terrifying but you have to put your natural instincts aside. The book is your baby and you will fight for it. Trust me I had my hand on the phone so many times before I made that call. Luck was on my side that day because he happened to be at home and he was kind enough to take my call.

  11. Fran says:

    It is a daunting process for a lot of artists who love to create but find it hard to promote. I really hate it but it is all part of the process. My efforts on Twitter and Facebook are pretty rubbish but I do try. I like to blog but can’t always find the time. My book is published on 14th April and I’m gearing up for an online launch party. Although I’d much rather be getting on with novel number two, I know I’ve got to make an effort to get number one seen. Good luck with the promotions Caroline!

    • Bob Braxton says:

      Strongly empathize with need to get on with next writing. Growing the vegetables and running the road-side stand seem to me very much at odds with each other. At a multi-day seminar to honor a poet alum, I looked around at possibly two hundred poets and writers there and thought Isn’t this a waste? I don’t know about the others but I myself kept on writing – three-liners I call Tristich.

  12. Bob Braxton says:


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