Monday, November 03, 2008

Another Way to Promote Your Book

Okay, here’s a way to promote your book, but it may only work if you’re a well-known author or you have ties to a major site that can host you. But it’s worth looking at as a case study.

In this case, the author is Alexander McCall Smith (as in, No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency) and the major site is the Telegraph newspaper site (as in Great Britain).

Alexander McCall Smith is currently writing (or posting) his new novel, Corduroy Mansions, on the Telegraph site. He’s putting up the book chapter by chapter – one chapter per day. He started on September 13 and will put the last chapter online on February 13, 2009.

You can start reading now since the chapters are still available online. Heck, you don’t even have to read them since they’re available by audio – with the wonderful Andrew Sachs (Manuel in Fawlty Towers) doing the reading for you.

To make it more of an interactive experience, you can leave comments and Alexander McCall Smith responds to the comments.

And to make it easy, you don’t even have to go to the Telegraph site. You can subscribe to the daily chapters by email or feed. You can even follow the project on Twitter.

And they throw in another incentive – there’s a contest you can enter and the prize is lunch with the author.

There are other little tidbits, like a Corduroy Mansions widget you can put on your own site, or a link to Google Maps so you can locate Corduroy Mansions, or links to the illustrator of the book. The sidebar even has links to the characters, including Freddie de la Hay, the dog.

Anyway, when Lauren Fisher, Online PR Consultant, emailed me about this, I checked it out and thought it might be a good site for authors to look at to see if they could do something like it for their own books. Probably not this elaborate, but a scaled down version.

Do you think this online, chapter by chapter, with bonus features, book would work for ordinary authors? Would it work for you? Or do you already have to be a big name to draw in the readers?


  1. Not sure if it would work or not. I tried it actually, a couple years ago when I was a TOTAL AND COMPLETE unknown author (frown) and got zip zero nada results. But perhaps now ...?

    Then I worry also that everyone will just read the book for free and not bother to buy it.


  2. If I were to sign up to read a chapter a day, those chapters would have to be sent to me. No way would I remember to go to a site and read each day.

    If I were reading it for free, I doubt I would then go buy the book -- unless the book was so good I wanted to give copies to others as presents OR I wanted a hard copy with his/her signature on it OR I could use it as a reference book in the future.

  3. Thanks for telling us, Helen. I have nearly every book Alexander McCall Smith has ever written. If it were anyone else, I probably wouldn't bother going to the site regularly. I don't think I'd try it myself because I don't have his fan base.

  4. I wonder who has the time to go to a blog or site and read a chapter a day from the computer. I certainly don't! Not even if it's a mega famous author.

  5. I like his No 1 Detective Agency books, Jean. I have listened to them on audio tape. The good news is that you can get this free chapter-a-day book via feed, so you don't have to remember to go to the site.

  6. I hear you Mayra! With all I have going on right now including a loooooming deadline for a book, I don't have time to even pick up a book let alone read a chapter. I do carry one for waiting rooms or long stoplights.

  7. I'll let you know what the results of my experiment from the unknown author perspective is.

    My expectations are not set high, and profit is not the intention, so I hope that keeps me grounded enough to really learn from trying this kind of experiment.

  8. Melody-Jane -- do let us know! I'm anxious to hear.

  9. Melody-Jane --
    Are you planning to "publish" a book chapter-by-chapter on your own website or on someone else's website?

    Because I think publishing on one's own website as an unknown author would be harder than publishing on someone else's website that directly ties in to the subject/storyline of the book.

  10. Good point Phyllis.

    Publishing via cell phone is the rage in Japan right now. (Lordy, sometimes I can barely read the incoming phone number on mine!)

  11. Helen, thanks for sharing this info.I think this works much better for a well-known author like A. Smith. Putting his work on a website, will encourage interaction and a feeling of community among his collectors that I feel will more than balance out those who don't buy his book because it is free online. However, it certainly is something to look into for new authors particularly if there is no cost. Some blogs have quite a following so the online community approach may be a good way for promotion.

    A couple of years ago I joined a new book group in my local area and was introduced to this author's work. We were lucky enough to hear him speak last yr. (Well, the group was; I was out of town!).

  12. Hi Gel,

    I hope we'll hear from a new or mid-list author who has tried this approach. It might be difficult to track sales to know if it did any good, but it would be interesting to hear about the experience.


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