I first met today’s guest author, Angela Clarke, on a writing retreat a few years ago and have an abiding memory of us sitting round the fire drinking wine then suddenly breaking out into yoga moves that are good for writer’s back and sciatica! Angela’s debut crime novel, Follow Me, came out in 2015 with Avon and has been a huge hit. So I picked her brains about how she helped spread the word…
Angela, Follow Me has hit the shelves with a big impact – talked about far and wide online and in the media, sold over 50,000 copies in just a couple of months, and has been reviewed and rated hundreds of times on Amazon and Goodreads. Can you tell us how you personally helped this to happen separate from your publisher’s promotional work?
My publisher, Avon, have been amazing. They’re really innovative in the way they approach marketing. My favourite thing they did was send old Nokia phones with a separate sim card to book bloggers. When the bloggers put the sim card into the phone it displayed a creepy message: Like. Share. Follow. Die. Are you next? That would freak me out! It caused a huge response and really kick-started the buzz around Follow Me.
I think it’s a foolish author who sits back and lets the publisher do all the marketing work nowadays. You have to get out there and meet your readers. I’m very lucky and privileged to belong to a number of Twitter and Facebook book groups, where authors and readers can meet and chat. The book bloggers are incredible: they read, review, share and promote so many authors. They’re a massive driver within the industry. I’d recommend any writer to get to know the book bloggers, and work with them: I did a number of exclusive extracts, articles, think pieces, competitions and lots of other fun and factual bits for a blog tour. It was a great way to get to know more people in the industry, and raise the profile of the book.
I also organised a couple of launch events, making them open to all, and publicising them on local newspapers and radio stations. That’s a great opportunity to meet readers in real life as well. I’m pretty active on Twitter and Facebook already, so it’s a natural step to chat about my book and involve my online mates.
The book is set in the world of social media and how big a part do you think Twitter and Facebook have played in the success of your book?
Follow Me is about a serial killer who tweets clues to his next victim will be. The setting is, effectively, online. It made it a prime book for those who actively use social media: there are 15 million Twitter users in the UK. I would hope that the book, which looks at the way we use social media both in positive and negative ways, would appeal to those who either use social media or are curious about it.
A lot of Twitter users have been drawn to it. But I’ve also had a huge number of messages from readers who aren’t on social media, or feel out of their comfort zone there. They thank me for enlightening them about what exactly is going on! Many enjoyed the chapter headings, which were all internet slang and definitions. I know several readers surprised their children/grandchildren, by suddenly calling them BAE (Before anyone else). PMSL (Pissing myself laughing).
So many crime thrillers dispose of technology as soon as possible to protect their plots: phones that get smashed, or have no signal. But then those stories don’t reflect the world we live in. If you’re in a major city like London, you have twenty-four-hour connectivity and communication. The general public now provide video and photos of protests, terrorist attacks, accidents, natural disasters and criminal activity, as they unfold in real time. Before the police receive them, and often before the mainstream media have them up and running.
Developing phone technology has turned us into voyeurs, participants, and complicit guilty parties as we click. It’s far more fun to use technology, and all the moral complications that involves, as part of the plot. Follow Me just came at the right time. I got lucky.
You’re working on the next in the Social Media Murder Series now – do you have a plan for world domination with the launch of this one? 😉
Ha! The next is called Are You Awake? and it’s out in November this year. At the moment all plans for world domination are on hold: I’m just focusing on finishing the book. I want it to be the best it can be.
What advice can you give to debut novelists to help them have success with the launch of their books?
Concentrate your efforts into one or two weeks. Do as much as you can in that timeframe to boost sales. This will help concentrate your sales, and give you a greater chance of climbing the charts. Amazon are a great driver of books that have clusters of sales and positive reviews: that’s how you get your book onto recommended lists and promotions. Keep going, and drink a lot of coffee! Good luck.
Thanks so much for this, Angela. Looking forward to the next installment already. Are You Awake? (Avon) the second in The Social Media Murder Series is out November 2016.
You can get a copy of Follow Me here.