In the past week, I received a couple of emails from people asking my advice on how to promote various online activities, I received an invitation to host a seminar on promotion, and I received an invitation to participate in a BlogTalkRadio discussion about creating a successful Facebook group. Apparently, I’m making a name for myself, (albeit slowly) but not as an author. Am I doing something right? Am I going about my self-promotion in the wrong way? I don’t know.
The interesting thing — to me, anyway — is that contrary to appearances, I still don’t know much about promotion. Sure, I am creating a presence on Facebook, I’m playing around with GoodReads, I blog and tweet. I’m even going to do a presentation at the local library about the brave new world of publishing. But those are the same things everyone else is doing, and I know that to be effective, promotion has to be creative, unique, and personal.
The odds of selling a truckload of books are miniscule to none, but I have never played the odds. I’m not giving up on my first books — A Spark of Heavenly Fire and More Deaths Than One — but in the next couple of weeks my third book — Daughter Am I — will be released, and I will need to figure out how to promote it. And who to promote it to.
When Mary Stuart, my twenty-five-year-old hero, discovers she inherited a farm from her murdered grandparents — grandparents her father claimed had died before she was born — she sets out on a journey to find out who they were and why someone wanted them dead. So is this a book that will appeal to readers in their twenties and thirties? Maybe. Along the way, Mary accumulates a crew of feisty octogenarians — former gangsters and friends of her grandfather. So is this a book that will appeal older readers? Perhaps. Mary also meets and falls in love with Tim Olson, whose grandfather shared a deadly secret with her great-grandfather. So is this a book that will appeal to romance readers? Probably not. There is no real romantic conflict in the book. The conflict belongs more in the mystery category, because Mary, Tim, and the octogenarians need to stay one step ahead of the killer who is desperate to dig up that secret. So is this a book that will appeal to mystery lovers? Could be.
If I had to do it over again, I would probably be more careful to write books that fit a particular genre to make them easier to promote. Oh, hell, who am I trying to kid. If I had to do it over, I’d write the exact same books. I like telling stories the way they should be told, without adhering to the boundaries of genre or niche marketing.
So, until I come up with a creative, unique, and personal idea of how to catapult me into bestsellerdom (or even bettersellerdom) it’s a matter of continuing to make a name for myself. Even if it is as a promoter.
If you want to know what I know about promotion, check out Book Marketing Floozy. Everything I know about marketing I got from there.
August 23, 2009 at 9:23 pm
Great Post! We write the books we write.
August 24, 2009 at 3:54 pm
That’s true. I don’t know how writers manage to fit their stories into a specific genre, but most do.
August 24, 2009 at 9:03 am
Creating groups and blogs is something you enjoy Pat. You know how to budget your time with them. It’s about getting your name recognized and you’ve accomplished that. Has it been done right? How else can it be done? There’s only so many ways to market things. If you observe, market and promotion tend to follow certain patterns. That’s because those ways work. The product is what determines how far it goes. Some products catch on faster than others. It’s the same with books. Some will love what you wrtie and some won’t. If these are the stories you want to write, then that’s what you write. You can only be true to yourself, my friend.
August 24, 2009 at 3:58 pm
It’s a bit depressing to think that there are only so many ways to market things. I see how many authors do the right thing, including having a good product — their wonderful story — yet their books never takes off. That’s why I keep looking for alternatives, hoping there is a different way to market!
August 24, 2009 at 10:42 am
Genre’s overrated. I’d much rather read a story told how it wants to be told than one squeezed into a genre box. And I’m sure the name recognition must fuel writer recognition too.
August 24, 2009 at 4:00 pm
Genre is overrated, but it is easier to sell if only because you have a specific group to sell it to. That’s one of the reasons the big publishers, agents, and editors insist on recognizable genre. It’s the only way they know to sell.
August 24, 2009 at 11:00 am
You are doing what you have to do, Bertram. Word of mouth will do a lot more. I wish I had the answers. This is not the era our parents dealt with; you and me and all those other wonderful writers out there are playing in a new playground. High Tech. But throw new cyberspace tools at us and the world remains the same. Readers are readers. They just need a chance to discover your work. Sadly, I think most of our endeavours reach other writers. And everybody knows, writers can’t afford new books. Readers can. Get out there and spread the word, just like you’re doing. Readers will read your books and tell other readers just how fabulous they are.
Mind you, I’m just once voice in a sea of voices. What do I know?
August 24, 2009 at 4:05 pm
Joylene — What do you know? You know a lot! You’re one of my role models when it comes to marketing. I like your analogy, that we’re playing in a new playground. Maybe we can figure out a new way of marketing — or at least an effective one. One reason I stopped participating in a lot of the smaller networking sites is that I was reaching the same authors that I did on the big networking sites. I have this vision of millions of us scurrying around, showing our books only to each other, which is great in its way — I’ve met a lot of wonderful people.