I think it's time that we as writers (and other people in the book business) try to open our minds and really truly grasp the new and exciting ways books can be promoted and loved. It is no longer about going to your local bookstore and buying a book. If we learn to use new technologies correctly, books can flourish and they will carry their writers along with them.
Here is a very interesting concept that can be adapted in many exciting ways. What Stephen Elliot did was to send out the few advance copies of his latest book, not to critics and book-y people, but to ordinary readers who were willing to be part of his lending library. He asked people if they'd like to read an advance copy of his book. He got 400 people who were keen. Then he set up a sort of mailing network. He sent out his few copies to the first readers and then the readers themselves were told who to send the book off to when they were finished. Elliot kept a database of the network and poked people who were slow to pass the book on.
In this process he had people all over talking about his book, some online, which created the much needed buzz.
When his book was finally out, he used the same network of readers again. When he went out on his book tour, instead of doing readings at bookstores where few people pitch up, he did them in those very reader's houses. He often even slept in their houses which saved on hotel bills.
I think this is fabulous and I don't see why it must only be done with advance copies. Why not when the book is out? Then the hype won't be for nothing. (One of the criticism of Elliot's method was he had lots of hype before the book was for sale).
Personally I'm getting excited. Finally I'm going to have a book sold on the internet, both through online bookshops and as an ebook. It has entered a slightly long pipeline but when it is ready I intend to adapt as many of these new ideas as I can to market the book.
What do you think about Elliot's idea? I particularly liked that at the end of the whole process, he asked the last person to send the book to someone who earns less than $25,000 (US, I'm assuming- Zim dollars you'd be hard pressed to find someone) who might not be able to afford the book when it came out. Nice.