By Deana Luchia
Marketing…publicity…promotion…whatever you call it, getting your finished book out there, so that an audience knows it actually exists, is just as essential a part of the job description for an author as the writing itself.
While it’s an amazing feat to have written a book and you definitely want to celebrate this (writing a book is the stuff of dreams for many, many people, so celebrate away), you need to move swiftly to the next stage: finding readers.
I’ve never thought of my writing as something to put in a drawer with me the only reader. I write because I love creating characters and worlds, but I also want to share what I’ve written. I want readers. I want to make them smile. Or move them in some way. And because writing is also my job, I want to make a living from it. It’s what I do.
And so promotion is vital. Without it, it’s almost impossible to find your audience. And without readers there’s no recompense for all your hard work – your job. You may as well keep your work in that drawer, unread by anyone but you.
Now some of you will be totally fine with self-promotion (I applaud you and admire you. Please share your tips!). But some of you, like me, will find it hard. Partly due to being English (we’re often brought up to downplay any success we’ve worked for) partly due to my character, the whole idea of self-promotion has been quite tricky for me. In my twenties I had interviews where I was told to self-promote to get the job. ‘Self yourself, Deana,’ said several loud, pumped up interviewers and I just squirmed, blushed, muttered something about being quite adequate at something or other, then felt guilty and mortified for saying I was quite adequate. (I actually though this was showing off!) Unsurprisingly, I did not get any of these jobs.
My older, more confident self feels beyond relieved that I am not as shy as I once was (and also happy to know that interview techniques have moved on a bit), but I still do find the idea of marketing my own work a bit daunting.
When I self-published by novel (several years ago now), I felt very uncomfortable promoting it. Would people get sick of hearing about my book and me? Would they be scrolling down my FB newsfeed, rolling their eyes at another plug from me? So I did almost nothing. Told a few people, shared a few links. Printed off a few fliers that I was then too scared to hand out to people. (A friend of mine eventually took them from me and distributed them in her own city. Thank you, Emma!).
But I’m not doing that again. I’m not downplaying my work or my creativity. I’m proud of my new book, Happy as Harry, and though I’m with a publisher and they have a publicity department with people whose job it is to promote all their new books, I still want and need to promote myself. Furthermore, my book is about happiness, so I want as many people as possible to read it, I want to spread that happiness. It’s the point of the book.
And so I’m not going to be bashful. I’m going to tell people about the work I’ve done, about why I think they would like to read my book.
I’ve come up with a few pointers for anyone who struggles to self-promote:
- Writing is your job. Marketing is a crucial part of your job. You are not doing your job properly if you don’t promote your work.
- Think of promoting your work as being informative. You’re helping people be aware of a book they might love.
- It’s not a big deal handing out fliers. People will either read or not read them.
- People expect a bit of self-promotion on SM. Isn’t that partly what it’s for? Just know that SM has a limited reach and is not the only way to promote your work.
- Expanding your target group rather than keep on telling the same people about your book is a good aim.
- People still expect to exchange business cards. I am handed them all the time. A small card with your book cover on one side is not pushy.
- Promotion is about being proud of your work. No one else can do this for you.
- Value what you do. Writing a novel is hard work. So follow through.
- Writing is a lonely business. So you need to get out there and talk to people about your book. Just like other people talk about their jobs.
- You are just being truthful about your book: it is something someone else will enjoy.
- You have nothing to lose and everything to gain.
I’d love to know your thoughts on promoting your work. Are you bashful or confident? What types of promotion do you do?