Deborah Yaffe

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Now that's what I call book promotion

By Deborah Yaffe, Jan 7 2016 02:00PM

I speak from experience when I say that it’s a jungle out there in the book-marketing world. Very few authors command the prestige and sales figures that motivate publishers to buy advertising or sponsor book tours. Most books never get reviewed by any outlet with decent readership. Our crowded, noisy culture drowns out all but the loudest -- often, the most obnoxious -- voices.


Meanwhile, self-promotion – sending out press releases, writing charmingly self-deprecating guest posts for hospitable blogs, attending conferences, cadging speaking slots at venues frequented by likely readers -- can be a full-time job, except that no one pays you to do it.


In fact, it costs you – in lost work time, travel expenses and, of course, those free books that you give away to the readers of the hospitable blogs that host your unpaid guest posts. And at the end of it all, as likely as not, you won’t sell enough books to cover your expenses. (Although you will meet many lovely people along the way.)


So it is with a certain amount of awe that I note the mother of all self-promotional book giveaways. For the next three months, Collins Hemingway, the author of last year’s self-published novel The Marriage of Miss Jane Austen, is offering US, Canadian and UK readers the chance to win a round trip for two to this September’s Jane Austen Festival in Bath, England.


Yes, you read that right. In order to promote his book, a self-published fanfic author is giving away an international vacation.


“Our sweepstakes is a celebration of Austen and her work in a way that gives back to her many fans around the world,” Hemingway says in a press release announcing the contest. “Just as I treat her seriously as a person and an artist in The Marriage of Miss Jane Austen trilogy, this contest provides a serious and meaningful reward for the people who have turned her into one of the most respected and best-loved writers of all time.”


Hemingway is the author of a number of business books, including one co-written with Bill Gates, so I’m guessing that he commands resources beyond those of your average writer of Jane Austen fanfic. I haven’t yet read his book – faithful blog readers will recall that I’m planning to get to it this summer, as part of my 2016 Austen Catch-Up Project – so I can’t vouch for its quality. But you definitely can’t accuse the man of lackluster self-promotion.


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