There has been much discussion about authors needing to have a platform in order to snag that much-desired publishing contract. This is much easier to attain if one has some sort of hook or built-in audience. It doesn't escape anyone's attention that most novels do not fall into the category of having a platform, especially if they are by a first-time novelist. After all, it's "only" fiction; therefore, who really cares?
True, it is much easier to promote a self-help or political book than a novel about, let's say, a young girl being raised by a houseful of men, which happens to be in part what my novel Without Grace is about. When my agent was trying to sell it, the comments always came back, "The writing is beautiful, the story charming; however, it's just a little too quiet for us."
A little too quiet? I couldn't be sure what that meant until I eventually realized what they were saying is that they didn't know how to market it so it was rejected. Well, after Susan Driscoll, then CEO for iUniverse made me an offer I couldn't refuse to publish the "quiet" little novel, I decided to see what I could do in way of marketing. Besides getting it into my local bookstore where it sold well over 750 copies, I managed to have it selected for several book clubs and did many events along the eastern seaboard. Yet, the coup I am most proud of for my print-on-demand "quiet" little novel was how I managed to get close to a half-page article in a newspaper that initially had no interest in talking to me. How did I do it?
My novel takes place in Upstate New York, not far from where I was scheduled to do a book signing. I wanted a crowd for this event and knew it would take more than placing an ad in the local paper; an article, on the other hand, would work. Wind turbine energy was creating much spirited debate in this region and because my novel has an environment theme, I contacted the newspaper's editor one last time and said I'd be happy to discuss the topic, since I was originally from the area. It wasn't long before she responded and scheduled an interview. The article was published a couple of days prior to my book signing. The thing is, even though discussing wind turbine energy was my pitch, only one sentence about it was in the piece, the rest was about my novel. Therefore, consider juxtaposing a real event with your storyline and see if it yields more attention than it otherwise would get. It's worth trying.