In 2010 my first published novel, Yin Yang Tattoo, was launched in paperback by Sandstone Press in the UK. I sat around for a few weeks waiting for reviewers to beat a path to my door, a path that never saw a single footfall. With the awareness slowly dawning that this was going to be a lot more difficult than I had ever imagined, I started pitching the book as aggressively as I could, searching out potential print media review sources. I quickly found out how near-impossible the new task was. Thankless? You bet your ass it was thankless.
I succeeded in securing reviews at a handful of websites. The highly-regarded Scottish Review of Books called it a ‘superior thriller’; a blogsite devoted to all things Korean kicked me square between the legs with the aside that it wasn’t in the same league as The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo. And a sweet review in the online crime fiction website Shots Magazine deemed it ‘lean and pacy, just what you want a thriller to be’.
Much later, two other online reviews, one at Asia Times Online, the other at the Asian travel blog site Wowasis, were more than generous with their praise, but long before they arrived I found myself in classic published author limbo. Few reviews, nobody discussing the book, zero market awareness. Even worse, I suffered the ignominy of securing an invite to the Hongkong International Literary Festival, only for the invitation to be rescinded after the festival chairman read the book and deemed it ‘altogether too highly coloured for our kind of festival – pretty strong meat.’ I can now laugh at it – wear it as a badge of honour, even – but at the time it hurt.
I decided it was time to do something different. I searched YouTube for inspired book promotions, and found none. Authors standing at a lectern reading out chunks of their novels didn’t strike me as particularly ground-breaking. And so I set about making my own clip. I asked around and found a young illustrator who was a devotee of the graphic novel. Azlan Ahmad McKechnie agreed to do the artwork for the clip, and a musician friend in Bangkok, Keith Nolan, composed the backing track as a favour that, over the years since, has seen me purchase coffees too many to count.
I’d love to say the clip created an avalanche of sales, but that, sadly was not the case. Nevertheless, I think it stands up as a clever piece of online promotion.
The text for the narration follows.
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