Tuesday, May 28, 2019

Raising Your Novel’s Visibility: Blog Posts & Leveraging Library Contacts

By Bonnie Randall 

Part of the How They Do It Series 

JH: No matter if you're indie or traditionally published, there are things you can do to help promote your novel. This month, Bonnie Randall shares some tips from her recent launch of her new novel, Within the Summit's Shadow.

My new release is available! Within the Summit’s Shadow went live a little less than a month ago (so what are you waiting for?! Spooky suspense. Sizzling sexual tension. A menacing spirit called The Dead Boy. If you abandon me to click on Amazon right now, I won’t be offended).

Since then, I’ve been raising awareness about my novel. Some strategies have had traction, others have had less. Today I’ll share what has been working.

1. Character Sketches of The Cast

From the least seen, to the starring roles, I blogged a (roughly 600 word) analysis of each character in my novel, pairing it with a picture of the actor I imagined to be as close to my own visualization of my character as possible. This one was so self-indulgent, yet generated a lot of fun chatter on my Facebook page (personal and ‘writer’; don’t forget to share your book info on both/all of your social media; maximize the cross-pollination, and also make your posts “public” so they can be shared). Readers had fun learning more details about the characters, and it was especially a kick for them to see how my visualizations stacked up against how they pictured my characters.

2. Library Queries

Here’s how I did it—first, since my novel is set in Alberta, and I am also Albertan, I searched a list for all the libraries in my province (for US readers unfamiliar with Canada: my ‘province’ is your ‘state’). Next, I took a look at the stats on each library; how big was their membership? What size population did they serve? Given their size, would I estimate their budget to purchase new titles be big or small? Weighing out the variables, I then made a list of which ones I would call—yes: CALL—to do my quick elevator pitch then ask who was the best recipient of an email regarding the details of my title. After that, I sent the formal query which included: a) a pitch not unlike one that would be sent to an agent, b) the link to my website c) links to my backlist d) a short summary on what I can offer a library if they were to host me for a talk (in this case, I shared that I could chat about leveraging folklore into a supernatural premise for a story, trauma-informed storytelling, or letting your setting tell your story). This task was by far the most time-consuming, yet I’ve had libraries ping me to tell me they have, indeed, purchased not just Within the Summit’s Shadow, but also Divinity & The Python. Win!

3. Music

I have not blogged about the soundtrack for Within the Summit’s Shadow yet (it is in queue), but when I blogged on the soundtrack for Divinity & The Python, it got a lot of fun feedback, and some readers said they were going to re-read the novel, now that they had a few songs to match up with some scenes. Win again—because even if this blog post did not generate new sales for D&P, readers who re-enjoyed D&P are now more inclined to check out Within the Summit’s Shadow, the second story in my Secrets & Shadows series.

4. Free Fiction

Ah, this one is always a crapshoot, and I have had writer colleagues want to shake me for “giving my stories away”. Yet sometimes I do. In fact, I have a few free short stories hung up on my website. Here is why: years ago, when my husband and I were fresh out of university—and crippled with student loan debt—I became inventive; I had created an instant mocha mix I called “Christmas Coffee”. I measured 2 cups of this mix into a plastic bag, tied it shut, then packaged it in cloth bags I sewed out of beautiful (but cheap!) Christmas fabric, in turn tying these shut with reams of (also cheap) curl ribbon. I set up at tables at local craft fairs and markets, and I made us a LOT of extra money, those lean years, selling my Christmas Coffee. 

And yet…I would not have made a dime had I not taken my trusty old stainless steel urn, filled it with piping hot Christmas Coffee, and served small samples in tiny Dixie cups at the craft fairs. Why? Well, because no matter how fussy and festive I made my bags, who’s going to buy something they have never tasted? 

Similarly, sometimes the back of the book isn’t enough. Who’s going to chance an indie author they’ve never read? What if she can’t tell a story? Ah…but what if she can? So, is this tactic controversial? Yes. Still, I like to offer a ‘sample of the wares’ to potential customers. If they like my voice and style in a short piece, perhaps they’ll purchase one of my full-length works.

And now—your turn! What strategies have you tried that have worked? What would you not try again? (I shared a recipe in one blog post, for something my characters had ate in a scene. Total fail. No one read it).

Share away, and, if you’d like to see how I craft my character sketches and other blog posts, visit my website here.

If you’d like to give Within the Summit’s Shadow a whirl on the dancefloor, click here.

And if you’d like my recipe for Christmas Coffee…TOO BAD! You can’t have it. What if I’m broke again and need to bust out my urn? Or….what if some craft fairs wouldn’t kick out some big sales this Christmas if I sold paperbacks and coffee as a DEAL? Hmmmmmmm…..

Ciao for Now!


Bonnie Randall is a Canadian writer who lives between her two favorite places—the Jasper Rocky Mountains and the City of Champions: Edmonton, Alberta. A clinical counselor who scribbles fiction in notebooks whenever her day job allows, Bonnie is fascinated by the relationships people develop—or covet—with both the known and unknown, the romantic and the arcane.

Her novel Divinity & The Python, a paranormal romantic thriller, was inspired by a cold day in Edmonton when the exhaust rising in the downtown core appeared to be the buildings, releasing their souls. The series continues with her newest release, Within the Summit's Shadow.

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Andrew Gavin knows he's a train wreck. Before he even became a detective, Andrew’s first trauma—at only seventeen—occurred when he witnessed a gruesome suicide. Ever since, a delusion he calls The Dead Boy appears when his anxiety spirals too close to the edge…


Goaded by The Dead Boy, Andrew shoots and kills an unarmed teenage bully in what appears to be a fit of rage. Suspended from the force, and awaiting a possible murder charge, he retreats home to the Rockies. There The Dead Boy taunts him daily. Except…


Elizabeth McBrien, the childhood sweetheart he scorned, is back home in the mountains too, and shocks Andrew by revealing that she too sees The Dead Boy. Astonished that the spirit is not a delusion, but real, Andrew is further unnerved when he learns that The Dead Boy has ‘befriended’ Kyle, a gravely ill kid Elizabeth adores.

Now it's specter vs. cop in a race to save Kyle's life, and The Dead Boy insists that Kyle’s survival hinges on secrets Andrew holds about that long-ago suicide. Yet Andrew knows the entire truth will destroy him, and also annihilate any new chance he may have with Elizabeth. But they are running out of time; Kyle is dying, and The Dead Boy is ready to sacrifice anything in order to once again walk among the living…

Within the Summit’s Shadow is a paranormal romance unlike any you’ve ever read. Set in the resort town of Jasper amid the splendor of the Canadian Rockies, this novel combines love, mystery, and a persistent, deeply psychological, very personal haunting. Randall really delivers the goods with this one.”

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for your post. I like the idea of character sketches. I've done that in the past - the distant past. I need to do that again, so I appreciate the reminder. I've used free fiction to great effect. It works best when you can hook up with bloggers in your genre who will interview you (content for them) and post links on their free reads pages (traffic for them).

    Something that works well for me is allying with other authors in my genre for mini-sales of a few days to a week. Some of us are better known, some not so much. All books are posted to a blog page and everyone shares to their own blog and social media networks. One person handles Facebook group posting so we don't overwhelm the groups. For huge sales with many authors and books, only one or two email just about the sale. For smaller sales - a dozen to two dozen books or so - we each email our lists on a schedule. All of this allows us to tap into reader audiences who are not our own and find new readers.