11 Oct An Interview with Author Satya Robyn
I came across this old interview, originally published in 2009, when Satya’s novel The Letters came out. I thought it made relevant reading, even now, so have decided to republish it. It’s unusual to talk about PR for writers, so I hope you find it interesting.
Satya, tell us about your novel, books and poetry
My debut novel, The Letters, is out now with Snowbooks, and the next two are coming out in August ’09 (The Blue Handbag) and Feb ’10 (Thaw). I also write poetry and ‘small stones’ – very short observational pieces.
I know that you have a number of blogs. Is this a creative outlet or part of a marketing plan?
Both. I’ve found that the marketing that works best for me is the marketing I enjoy doing. I get a great amount of pleasure from writing my blogs, connecting with new people and getting feedback. I don’t think I ever write my blog because I think ‘I ought to be doing some marketing’.
I also see that you’ve done a few blog tours. Let us in on what a blog tour is.
A blog tour is like a normal book tour but instead of cities, you visit different people’s blogs. The advantage is I don’t have to leave my office! Usually the blog host will ask me questions about the book or about my writing process, and say what they thought about the book. It’s great fun.
What PR activities have you found that work for you and your work?
I think I’ve been able to grow an ‘audience’ over time (or become more visible) through doing various things – blogging, sending out weekly emails, writing articles, forming a group on Facebook… I do the things that suit me, which are mostly Internet based.
What PR activities are you undertaking for the publication of your novel – anything new?
Nothing new – I’ve sent out an email to my mailing list, I ran a competition and gave away ten books, I’m visiting 26 blogs on my blog tour, and I’m blogging about my experience of being published. And making my friends buy twenty books each (not really).
How much PR support do you get from your publishers, or are you left to do it pretty much alone.
Snowbooks’ experience is that getting the books into the major shops on promotions is the best way of shifting them, and so they focus their efforts on their relationship with the retailers etc. They managed to get The Letters in to The Paperback Preview, part of The Bookseller magazine, which is quite a scoop! I’ll also get exposure on their own blog.
You’ve self-published in the past, how have you found that?
It was a very helpful thing for me to do. I always intended to have my novels ‘traditionally’ published, but while I was waiting for this to happen it felt very empowering to publish ‘A Year of Questions’ and ‘small stones: a year of moments’ myself. I haven’t sold them in great numbers, and I think this is probably the experience of most self-published authors, but they also gave me some good practice at marketing and having my books ‘out in the world’.
What do you enjoy least about PR?
I haven’t had to do anything I haven’t wanted to do yet. Ask me again in a year?!
What’s been your highest point so far PR-wise?
Being featured in the Paperback Preview, and being on promotion in Waterstones.
And your lowest?
Nothing to complain about yet – isn’t all PR good PR?!
And social networking…do you do this and how useful have you found it? (e.g. Facebook, Twitter, etc)
I am on Facebook, and have a group attached to one of my blogs which I message weekly. Its been a great way of building relationships with authors or bloggers who’s work I admire. I am on Twitter too, but I cheat – I use Twitterfeed so my new blog posts get Twittered without me having to lift a finger.
What have you learnt about PR over the years?
My personal experience is that it’s important for me to be authentic, and to let people know about my work so they can decide whether they want to try it rather than seeing it as forcing them to read me. My experience is that it can take a long time to ‘build a following’ – maybe it would have been quicker if I’d been less authentic and more conscious of reaching a wider audience – I don’t know. It doesn’t matter to me – I love what I do, and I’ve got my publishing deal. It’s all good!
Can you link a rise in turn over book sales with PR?
Not yet – it’s too early – but again Snowbooks experience is that getting the books into shops works better than a good review or an advertising campaign. I think word of mouth is probably important for books too, but that will be up to my readers!
What advice do you have to give for anyone in a similar position?
Getting published had always been a ‘long term goal’ for me. I tried to focus on enjoying the process along the way, and made consistent efforts to find an agent/publisher and to start building my profile in the meantime. If you find something you enjoy doing, then marketing doesn’t feel like work.
You can read more about Satya here