I am quite fortunate that the cover of The Secret War stands out, and for that I must thank Richard Evans at Macmillan for creating something quite striking from what was quite a woolly brief: two crossed swords against a fiery background, with a bronze pyramid between them.
I guess it’s that and the blurb I wrote that have sold many of the books so far – after all no-one other than friends and than those visiting this blog had even heard of me, let alone The Secret War. Word of mouth also seems to be helping it along now, but I took the plunge anyway and another push in terms of promotion i.e. commissioning the printing of 10,000 promo cards – which have now been delivered.
In the last blog entry, Sally made a good point that you can’t just go into a bookshop or wherever and plonk promo cards down on a table or a counter, but you should engage with the bookseller or shop owner, and that’s precisely what I have done in the last 48 hours. So far the net I cast has only been over Sheffield, but that includes 3 bookshops and a pub. Obviously, Waterstones in Orchard Square have taken some of the cards for display; Goldsboro books in London apart, this store has been the biggest supporter of my book to my knowledge – hosting the launch as well as taking 3 separate orders for the book (and in total selling around 100 copies since it was published) - the latest order being around 8 copies. That isn’t bad for a debut hardback.
Of the two other Waterstones branches in Sheffield, the largest was very interested in the book after I met with the manager yesterday evening. It was a very successful chat, she being a self-confessed fantasy fan and a fan of Naomi Novik’s Temeraire series (others have already commented on its similarities with The Secret War). The branch also took a stack of promo cards – and if they put them on display, that’s a bonus – but I think the real bonus is finding another ally who is interested in my book, and selling it.
And allies are just as important as word of mouth.
In the coming months I’ll be armed with more cards, talking to more booksellers both independents and book-chains, and trying to “win friends and influence people”, if you believe in that hackneyed phrase.
If it all goes as well as the last 48 hours, I might soon become a true believer myself!