This is definitely a bold move (although there's a growing evidence that such steps actually help to boost sales of printed titles), and we thought it's an opportunity to speak with Fiona about her books and her innovative marketing strategies. We also have a signed copy of the book we're giving away, so check the details at the end of the post.
Hello Fiona and congrats on your new novel. Can you tell us what it is about?
Thank you. ‘Thaw’ follows 32 year old microbiologist, Ruth, as she thinks about whether or not to carry on living. She gives herself three months to decide, and the novel is her journal over these three months.
What was your inspiration for this novel? for the characters?
My characters always appear ‘out of nowhere’, and it was the same with Ruth. As I got to know her, the story emerged. I knew she was a troubled character, and that she used photographs as a way of staying sane, and then I realised she would want to have her portrait painted, and so the Russian painter Red came into being…
This is the fifth novel you publish within only 3 years. How do you it?
I had a head start! I’d been writing for six years when I found my publisher, Snowbooks, and they wanted to publish all three of my novels. There will be more of a gap before the next!
\You decided to do something quite radical and enable readers to read it online for free - why?
It is radical. It’s an experiment, really – my hope is that some people will read it online and then want to buy my previous novels, or that some people will want to read to the end before waiting for it all to appear online. We’ll see if it helps or hinders my sales in the long run!
You're not just a fruitful and talented writer, but also an innovative marketer - can you share with us couple of the strategies you used so far to market your books? what do you find the most effective?
Thank you. I’ve always tried to find marketing strategies that will feel like fun, whether or not they help me to sell more books. I’ve always enjoyed writing my blogs, and I’ve had great fun on my virtual book tour and with the Thaw project. It’s difficult to know what is most effective, but it does seem to be a cumulative thing, and patience is essential. There is a very fine line between asking people to help and becoming annoying, and maybe it’s inevitable that you cross it with some people, so a thick skin is also helpful!
What do you find more challenging - writing a book or marketing it later on?
Both are very challenging, and both are great fun. It takes a very different kind of energy to write a book – a reflective, introspective kind of energy – whereas marketing is all about putting my energy out there. Both activities can be very tiring in different ways, and I need to have a recharge after finishing a book and after a marketing campaign.
Do you think social media is really working? Is it just a better way to communicate with your readers or also a marketing tool?
I do find new readers for my books on Facebook and Twitter, and so I think it does work as a marketing tool, but you have to be even more careful about putting people off – nobody wants adverts for books on their Facebook page all the time. I try to use these tools more as building a profile for myself, by writing about the things that interest me, and then hopefully if people like my writing style they’ll also check out my novels.
How many hours a day do you spend on facebook, twitter and other similar social media platforms?
Hmm, a good question! Maybe an hour or two (or sometimes three). I COULD spend an hour or less if I was focused and I didn’t end up going off on random tangents.
You are an ongoing supporter of Eco-Libris and I know the environmental issue is very important to you. Do you find similar awareness and concerns among readers?
I don’t think people tend to think about the environment when they’re reading a novel. Balancing out our paper consumption by paying for Eco-Libris to plant trees is such a brilliant idea – everyone should be doing it!
Finally, what is your next project and when we can expect your next novel?
My next novel, ‘The Most Beautiful Thing’, is on the horizon, and follows 14 year old Joe as he spends the summer in
Raz @ Eco-Libris
Eco-Libris: plant a tree for every book you read!