In my other life, my day job, if you will, I work in marketing. In a previous life, I worked at a PR firm and later, as an editor at a magazine. Who knew my previous work experience would be such a huge help as the launch for Chasing the Sun approaches? It’s not that any of this is made any easier, or less overwhelming, as I think of ways I hope to promote my book and help it be as successful as possible.
But it does help me answer a couple of very important questions every time I’m about to pitch or promote my book to an audience: How would I feel in their shoes? What would make me take interest rather than let this request drown out along with hundreds of others we receive every day?
The things I’ve learned are simple:
1. Personalize your pitch and mind the details. When I was an editor, I’d constantly receive pitches addressed to “Natalie” about stories that our publication had absolutely no connection to. I still get requests for book reviews on my blog, even though I don’t review books. All that really tells me is that the person hasn’t read the publication they’re pitching. But a well-researched pitch, in which it’s clear you’ve thought of possible story angles and how your idea ties in with the publication’s goals, was always a breath of fresh air. Be that breath of fresh air.
2. Mediums may change; the basics of communication don’t. Whether you’re emailing the producer at your local news station, chatting with a fellow author at a happy hour, or sharing a status update on Facebook, we are still people communicating with other people. Kindness, consideration, and courtesy matter. You’d probably never walk into a party and announce to everyone, “Hey! Buy my book!” (right? right?!)…but if after talking to someone and the subject of literature or what you do for a living came up, it would be perfectly natural to mention it. Connect with someone as a person first, and then the promotion part won’t have to be promotion: it can be two people, taking a genuine interest in helping one another.
3. The most important thing you can do when you’re trying to get your message out is listen. Because really, it’s not about you. It’s about how your story might connect to people. How it might help them, or bring a smile to their face, or inspire them. And how will you know any of those things if you don’t listen to the people you’re trying to reach?
And finally, this is something completely unrelated to my previous jobs, but I feel I should mention it because so many of us dread self-promotion, or asking people to buy our books. So maybe, don’t. Maybe the best thing we can do for ourselves and our peace of mind and our enjoyment of this journey is this:
Become a part of something bigger. What’s bigger than you and your book? Community. Compassion. Helping someone without the expectation of reciprocation. Push yourself out of your comfort zone and make new friends, not because they might buy your book but because they make life sweeter.