Reaching your readers - Miranda Doyle on promoting A Book of Untruths
Ahead of the publication of A Book of Untruths on 1st June, we talked to Mud Kitchen client Miranda Doyle about being a first time novelist and her experience of promoting her new book on and offline.
(Mud Kitchen) Are websites and other social media platforms essential for promoting a book?
(Miranda Doyle) Honestly, I haven’t got a clear vision of what is essential and what is not.
We are writers and we feel safest between hard covers, but I know we will not necessarily reach our readers there.
I spend a huge amount of time online – whether that’s choosing holidays, choosing clothes, choosing restaurants, choosing films, whatever. And of course when choosing books. I look at what the reviews say, what the online presence is. Then make a decision. And with memoir and autobiography – in fact any non-fiction text – online platforms create a place to give a reader more. Material that was important, yet there was not space for: the photographs, scraps of interviews, and the research that underpins what our readers want more of and perhaps was the initial reason they were provoked to buy. Whether we are writing a novel, a memoir or a biography we will have done research, and been in conversation with other texts. Online can be the place to show what excited us as writers, and give our books a context which inevitably makes it a more meaningful read.
Websites and social media therefore must be essential. And I have a lot of people telling me what I should be doing online, and there are endless features and blog posts on the subject. It’s bewildering – so many possibilities, so little clarity.
Which is why, after the website had been live a while, I turned to Mud Kitchen again for help with social media.
(M.K.) What did you think was most important in designing your website?
For it to be a place for the reader, and a place of revelation. If we keep our readers paramount there is the hope that they may feel appreciated. Can the site incorporate movies, audio, images, free copy? Can it be fun? Are we setting out a stall for a book that people will want to buy? A place for dialogue and discovery, where we can open up conversations with our readers and be as responsive as we can.
A Book of Untruths asks the question: Can we ever tell the truth? So I wanted, on the website, to explore deceit further in both a humorous and meaningful way, using both audio and images. On the site I offer corroboration for episodes, or conversely expose where my memory has failed me, and where anxieties over defamation have led me to lose bits of story that I wish were still there.
(M.K.) Now the hard graft of writing it and getting it published is done, do you enjoy promoting your book?
My friend Elizabeth Fullerton told me that the one thing she regretted was not having said ‘yes’ to everything. So I have. Absolutely everything and anything. I may dread arsing up a live radio broadcast, or a library event where only two people show (and both are only getting in out of the cold), but they are opportunities, and I must take them. To not would be to have regrets and to blame myself for not doing everything I could to help this book fly. Other writers will have more self respect, but on the positive side – having none means that the publisher will take your yeses and run with them. They will feel confident that getting you gigs is not a waste of their time.
The most amazing experience in the lead up to publication was tripping over, on Twitter, a brilliantly savvy book blogger, the literary consultant Zeba Talkhani, (www.zebatalkhani.com) who had been sent an early proof by Faber. She loved the book and as we messaged we realized that decades ago we had known one another in another guise. Social media can connect us to pasts we had thought were long lost. Showing interest in others and supporting them will always have its own unanticipated rewards.
A Book of Untruths online
Mud Kitchen worked with Miranda Doyle to develop the website bookofuntruths.com along with author and book related social media profiles (click to view).