It seems fitting on Insecure Writer's Support Group Day to talk about a tetchy subject that gives some of us the heebie-jeebies - that of self-promotion. This week, author and blogger extraordinaire, Kristen Lamb, was saying on Facebook that she’d received some flak for adding links to her book and classes at the end of her blog posts. She commented, ‘And this is what hurts writers, the belief that we should not be paid for what we do.’
I thought maybe people don’t realize the realities these days. It’s a different world out there now for writers, artists, actors, models, in fact for everyone. The reality is folks rely less on advertising to make their purchasing decisions. We listen more to word-of-mouth and social media. Watching Fashion Police on E the other night, Joan Rivers took a few minutes to plug her new book, saying that it could be preordered through her website, and when you think about it, this sort of individual self-promotion is something we’re seeing more and more. Whether it’s a byline about your book at the end of a blog post or the list of URL’s following your name on emails or the website you attach to your name via Gravatar, these are perfectly respectable practices these days. As long as each of us is respectful and honest in our approach to sharing our work, then what’s wrong with that? If we’ve ‘tilled’ the land by writing a blog, or providing a service, or making people laugh, then surely we may plant another seed which may grow further?
One of the members of my critique group who is a literary editor and agent recently commented, ‘The good news is that one of my authors' books came out. With all the social media, emailing, and other marketing she's been doing, including an Amazon Bestseller campaign, she hit No. 1 in her categories. She sold 174 copies in four days! Marketing pays off!’
Like it or not, this is the reality for an author these days. I remember meeting an author once who said he was ‘the talent’ and it was over to the publisher to handle the marketing because ‘that’s their job’. For one thing, smaller numbers than ever before in history are knocking on the doors of traditional publishers. For another thing, even if you do win a traditional contract, I hate to break it you, but you’re still expected to do the lion’s share of the marketing It’s up to you. So hang your shingle out on whatever doors are available to you, and don’t apologize.
Kiwi author, Julie Thomas, was asked, ‘A lot of people want to self-publish books. What’s your advice to them?’ Her advice was, ‘You need to publicize, every day.’ How do you publicize, every day? In small, continual ways that are easy to maintain like this at the end of my emails (which I just started doing this week, bad me):
How else do we get the word about our books (or products) out if we don’t actively promote ourselves? Through publishers advertising us? Forget it unless you’re in the top tier of authors who receive the lion’s share of the advertising revenue. Through friends and family? Not likely, apart from the precious 1% who do, most people are just too busy to spread the word about your new book no matter how much they may love you. No. These days it’s up to the individual. Because remember, as Jane Friedman said, For all the hosannas you can hear on one hand about backing the car over gatekeepers and barreling down the honeysuckle-festooned byways of 99-cents self-publishing, there are: Tales of impenetrable thickets of discoverability.
Well, those are my thoughts on the subject. What do you think?
See ya' in the funny papers!