Recently, I was at a book signing and when it came time for the Q & A, a member of the audience asked me and the other two authors in attendance what we thought was the best way to promote a book. We three looked at one another and paused, considering our answers. Why did we hesitate? Because the fact is, there is no one right answer when it comes to sales.
Now I’ve known a lot of salespeople in my life. Lots. And I can tell you right now, I am NOT a salesperson. It takes a skill that I don’t have. But guess what? When you publish (and this is part no one really wants to tell you), you have to become a salesperson. A really, really good salesperson. In fact, NO ONE is going to be a better salesperson for your book than you. And make no mistake, promoting your work is not only a good idea in today’s publishing world, it is expected, because publishers know that today’s authors have access to an incredible marketing tool: the internet.
Yes, it’s scary—and yes, it’s hard! Which is why I love that Deb Joanne started off our week of marketing our books here on the Ball, because her promotion plan knocked my socks off. I wish I had been half as organized—and creative.
When I prepared to launch LITTLE GALE GUMBO, I had been blogging for nearly a year and had immersed myself into social media so I believed the best way to get the word out about my soon-to-be-released debut was through the internet. I didn’t have a launch party, but thanks to some very, very lovely book bloggers and internet friends, I did do a blog tour in the first few weeks of the book’s release. I posted on my own blog about the experience of releasing my debut. I had the joy of sharing the experience here at the Ball! That was the bulk of marketing plan.
But marketing a book is much more than just guest blogging and giveaways—and this is where it gets really hard.
Marketing your book can become a round-the-clock, 24/7 enterprise. You have think globally and act locally. You have to be kind of, sort of, well, yes, shameless. You have to tell your family and friends to tell THEIR family and friends about this little book you wrote. You have to have a pitch. You have to be willing to give that pitch anywhere and anytime. (Short of the public restroom, though I’m sure there are writers who have gone there.) You have to be constantly thinking about ways to engage your readers. The word gimmick may even pass through your lips (and you’re not particularly happy about it, trust me). Did I mention that you have to be shameless? I did? Well, it bears repeating.
And what about the other stuff? Do you need a blog? Do you need a website? What about Pinterest? Tumblr? When it comes to Facebook, do I need a personal page AND an author page—or should I just have a page for my book?
As writers we hear/read such contradictory answers to these questions, we find ourselves frozen with panic, unsure and indecisive.
My answer? Do as much as you can. Do it all. Do some. Just DO SOMETHING. You may not feel comfortable talking about your book to strangers—Get over it. It’s a business, and it’s okay to see it that way when it comes to marketing. Is there a magic bullet, a no-fail system? I don’t think so—and most of the other writers I’ve spoken with don’t think so either. Because at the end of the day, after all the spaghetti has been flung against the wall, you STILL may not know what strands have stuck and what strands have dropped to the floor. Discouraging? No! I think it’s exciting. Because everything you do to promote your book, however small, however grandiose, is one more thing to bring a reader to your work. It’s like they say about the lottery (and plenty of other things, too): You gotta be in it, to win it.
In October, I will be launching my second novel, THE MERMAID COLLECTOR, and this time around I feel somewhat more organized, and maybe even somewhat wiser. I hope to have the chance to attend more festivals and visit more bookstores. I’ve even dedicated a Facebook page to the new book that is a place for us mermaid-fanatics to geek-out about mermaids.
Now all that’s left to do is pick a flavor of cupcakes for my launch party. Right, Joanne?
Tell me, friends–what part of promotion do you think is/would be the hardest?