Attention-getting Tactics for Authors

opera singerA while back, I attended a festival of romance. It was one of those events where authors get together, mingle with publishers, sell some books, make connections and so on. There were workshops and other events where we got to meet and greet.

One of these events was a readathon. It was staged in a shopping centre. The idea was for a steady line of writers to keep an audience entertained with excerpts from our books. In reality, most of the public was more interested in shopping and ignored us. One writer, however, grabbed their attention. She belted out Jon Bon Jovi’s Living on a Prayer ahead of her reading. People came to a rapid halt and listened. It was a crowd stopper.

The lady in question, Nicky Wells, managed to be star of the evening event by doing this, and has since gone on to appear regularly on a local radio station.

More recently, I was watching a video clip on Facebook set in a supermarket in which opera singers, disguised as shoppers and customers stop an entire store of people by suddenly bursting into a rendition of the Italian song Funiculi Funiculà. The customers are spellbound and capture the event on their mobiles while hanging onto their wire baskets and shopping trolleys. The video went viral.

Researching for this post, I came across a fabulous video of a Polish man singing opera on the street. What makes this video special is that his baby, in a pushchair near him, is accompanying him and appears to be singing in harmony with the man. That video has also has collected a huge number of hits.

You know where I’m going with this now, don’t you? Book trailer videos are all good and work well, however, imagine if you could get a video to go viral? If you are able to sing a song, or have some friends (or children, although I don’t want to encourage child exploitation) who can sing, here’s an opportunity to get your name remembered and even sell some books.

Set yourself up in a supermarket (many supermarkets are happy if you hang just outside the entrance but check first) or on a busy high street. I recommend that you don’t do this on home turf. Travel away from your usual patch.

You need to surprise your audience, so opt for dressing up as a street cleaner, a business man complete with umbrella and briefcase or disguise yourself as an elderly bag lady. The idea is to bewilder and intrigue them. If you look like a performer it won’t have the same effect. Position yourself in full view of the public.

Then as people go about their business, suddenly burst into song.

If you can choose one that works with your books then so much the better. Anything set in the gambling world try Poker Face. Your book is a western? Go for Do Not Forsake Me Oh My Darlin’. Write erotic literature? Have a go at Like a Virgin. I leave the choice to you. Just make sure it doesn’t have a long musical introduction and is catchy. Gloria Gaynors’ I Will Survive, Queen’s Don’t Stop Me Now and Bill Withers’ Ain’t No Sunshine worked like a charm for me. Although that is probably because I have the worst singing voice in the universe and people wondered what the awful row was.

If, like me, you can’t sing, then you’ll have to opt for plan B. You can whistle (Bobby McFerrin’s Don’t Worry Be Happy is a good one) or try out an unusual instrument. I’ve just experimented with a bright pink kazoo. I certainly got attention. I also got £2.27 because people thought I was a busker.

Make sure you have leaflets or postcards of your books with you to hand out afterwards when the crowd applauds. If you’re lucky someone will have videoed you and it will go viral. Failing that, you should have attracted new readers or, at the very worst, you’ll be taking home £2.27 and a very red face.

Author: Carol Wyer

Carol E Wyer is a Contributing Author for Indies Unlimited and an award-winning and best-selling author of humorous novels including MINI SKIRTS AND LAUGHTER LINES, SURFING IN STILETTOS, and HOW NOT TO MURDER YOUR GRUMPY. Carol has been featured on NBC News, BBC Radio, and in The Huffington Post. For more about Carol, go to her website or her Amazon author page.

31 thoughts on “Attention-getting Tactics for Authors”

  1. Say…that’s about 5 bucks in American money. Hmm. I do a pretty good karaoke rendition of Dust in the Wind – maybe I can work the song into the next book….

  2. Carol, thanks for your great idea, I am an old man, thick skinned with a great voice. For the last several months I have been trying to promote my book, Shattered by the Wars, a story of my family in Korea during WWII under Japan and during the Korean War. It is a sad story but inspiring one. I may try out your suggestion one day at a market place. You can check my voice by visiting

    1. Hi-Dong Chai, thank you for your kind comment.
      You were not joking when you said you had a great voice. You are incredible. If anyone is reading these comments, go along to his website and check out the songs he has sung.
      I take my hat off to you, sir. Without doubt you’ll attract attention. Good luck with your book. You are an incredibly inspiring person and I wish you much success.

  3. I can’t sing. hum or play an instrument, but I loved this piece. I just read a NF book set in the UK, and learned what a busker is. I feel like I’m in the know. Great Fun piece. smart, too. thanks Carole.

    1. Jackie, your comment touched me. Thank you so much. If ever you come across the Pond, I’ll take you into town and let you listen to a guy busking who plays the bagpipes…it might give you an idea. People pay him to stop!

    1. Thanks, Lois. I bet you’d be brilliant. I wish I could sing. I might try out at my stand-up gig and see how it goes At worst it’ll shorten the event.
      Musicals…I love them too. Chicago is one of my favourites.

  4. Excellent post and superb idea, Carol. Today’s world definitely favours the bold, the brash and the brass necked.

    1. TD, thank you. You’re right. We have to put aside our shyness and go out there and face our public. I’ll let you know if being brass necked at doing a stand-up gig was a wise idea next time. I might even test the audience with my singing!

      1. 🙂 But I’m sure you know the adage: The old own everything, the middle-aged suspect everything, and the young know everything 🙂

  5. Hmmm. I can’t whistle and I’m told I can’t sing, either (or so my family tells me). So, I may be in trouble. Unless getting kicked out for disturbing the peace is something that goes viral. 😉

  6. Brilliant piece, Carol–I’m so honoured you remembered my little singsong. Thank you for including me in your article!

    I’m not actually all that great at singer, just FYI for everybody here, but it did grab people’s attention and I’ve been working with a similar theme since. It just gives a reading a slightly different flavour! I believe I broke into a rendition of Slade’s Christmas rock hit at the last Festival of Romance (I *was* promoting my Christmas novella at the time) and it went down… well. I hope!

    In case anyone’s interested at the level of skill–or not!–required to pull this off, you can take a look at a re-take of the impromptu singsong here:

  7. -stares at Carol- I can’t work out if you’re serious or not! You want us to sing? In public? I can see the headlines now – “infamous author sued for crimes against humanity’!

    1. If you need a banjo accompaniment for that, I’m sure we could duet and do a passable Deliverance/Freddie Kruger routine. That should work, Linton. 😉

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