Tuesday, April 21, 2015

The Truth You Don't Want to Hear About Author Self-Promotion

I belong to three different writers’ groups. I’m a bit of a workshop/conference junkie, though I’m cutting back on that for a while. And without exception, there is one question that is always asked at every workshop, group meeting, or conference:

Do authors have to do their own marketing and promotions?

I can answer that, I want to shout out!

YES! The answer is YES!!  I REALLY know that answer at the moment because my alter-ego is busy promoting a new release.

Here are the sub-questions that inevitably follow:

1.     Do you need to do marketing and promotions if you self-publish?

ANSWER: YES. Of course. Your book, no matter how wonderful, enlightening, or ground-breaking it is, will be one of MILLIONS that are out there. How will readers find it if you don’t let them know, in many different ways, that your amazing book exists?

2.     Do you need to do marketing and promotions if you are published by a small press/publisher?

ANSWER: YES. The traditional small presses, which seem to me to often be connected to universities, do not have the budgets to do extensive marketing for their authors. And since the advent of the e-book, there have been many new small publishers to come on the scene. Some are literally here today and gone tomorrow. Others are here for a while, but don’t last. But there are some that have staying power and are publishing excellent books that are well edited and have beautiful, effective covers. BUT, very few, (think of a very, very small number now) offer marketing as part of their contract. So, just like for the self-published, all marketing and promotions are up to you.

3.     Do you need to do marketing and promotions if you are published by a Big Five publisher?

ANSWER: YES. However, the Big Five and their legions of imprints DO have marketing/publicity departments that work for and with you. They have the budgets to get the news of your new book out there. Now gather closer children as I talk about the olden days. Once upon a time, those BIG publishers did ALL of the marketing for a book and its author. Yes, the author may have been expected to do some book tours, but beyond that there was little that was expected of them other than to write the next book. That has changed. Today, all authors regardless of the size of their publishing house are expected to have some kind of online presence. They should be on Twitter and/or Facebook and/or Tumblr and/or have a blog etc. etc., and certainly they must have a web page of their own. All of these venues are for the purpose of connecting the authors to their readers.

Bottom line is that no author is immune to doing at least a part of her/his own marketing and promotions.

Let me share with you an example of what one NYTimes best selling YA author does. This author is published by one of the biggest YA publishers in the industry. She also happens to be multi-talented, and uses all of her talents to help promote her writing. As a fine artist, she might draw gorgeous pictures related to her current release to have made into book covers to use as giveaways at tour stops. She’s been known to decorate electric guitars with intricate designs to raffle off during tours. This author even painted a design on her car to reflect something from the book that was being released at the time. As a composer she writes and performs the music that accompanies the audiobook versions. On top of all this she is an über tweeter, posts regularly and frequently on Tumblr and on a blog, and has a presence on Facebook as well. It’s impressive, daunting, and makes me tired to think about because on top of all of this SHE IS ALWAYS WRITING THE NEXT BESTSELLER! [Note: She also happens to be one of my VERY FAVORITE authors!]

The next question that is invariably asked is When and how should I start my marketing/promotions/social media?

The answer to that question, next week!

(See how I did that? I fixed it so you have to come back to this blog again if you want to find out the answer to that intriguing question! Promotion. Wink Wink.)

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