Thursday, September 24, 2009

Surviving promotion without losing your mind, money and soul

You know you have to do it. If readers aren’t aware of your book’s existence, they aren’t going to buy it. If you don’t know that, you must be dreaming or have a huge fan base to buy your books and do all the selling for you by word of mouth. Yeah, that doesn’t usually happen. Even if you’re with a large publishing house, you’ll be expected to make the occasional public appearance. The bottom line is: if your books don’t sell well, your publisher might not love you anymore. If your publisher doesn’t love you anymore, someone else’s books will be published instead of yours. It’s not like they’ll go under without you or that there aren’t several other authors waiting to step into your shoes. Unless you’re a big deal and you’re publisher loves you for your name, alone, you need to promote your books.

Now, what about the new or relatively unknown author? They need to promote their books even harder. Their budget for promotion may be very limited so they have to find venues that are free or very inexpensive—mainly on the Internet. Perhaps that’s why chat loops, blogs, ezines, and review sites are springing up in record numbers. E-book authors are some of the most Internet promo savvy authors out there—because they have to be.

Knowing that, let’s move on to the survival aspect. I went to a workshop given by Vicki Lewis Thompson on promoting according to your personality. If you’re an extrovert, lucky you! Promoting your books in person will be easy. People will automatically gravitate to you and they’ll even forgive you if you act like your own biggest fan. And, by the way, you have to be when promoting your work. If that’s extremely uncomfortable for you, it might be easier to hire a good publicist, pay for advertising, and give loads of promos to venues willing and anxious to distribute them for you.

Most authors dread promotion. In my typical overly honest and irreverent way, I’ve even referred to it as “pimping” my book. But I have a secret. When I’m having fun, it isn’t work. ‘Playing’ with readers online is fun for me because I can let my outrageous personality shine through and readers have a blast. Ultimately, they look at my website and buy my books—at lease I hope so. I’m sure there are those people who think I’m a lunatic and run the other way. Oh well. They’re no fun, anyway. So, there’s my secret in a nutshell. Promotion can and should be fun.

I’m what a fellow author described when talking about her own promotional personality. An extrovert behind the computer monitor and somewhat shy in public. That was Kelly Kirch by the way. I enjoy a good chat that’s well attended, have plenty of fun on myspace, and I can blog with the best of them. And as long as I get a few readers to banter with, I consider it fun. I hold contests since I like to play “Santa,” but I no longer give tons of books away. Who’ll buy the milk if the cow gives it away for free? I heard that from my father many years ago and he didn’t even know I was destined to become an author! Go figure.

But do you want to know the biggest secret to sales? It’s your next book. Be careful not to have TOO much fun, or you’ll spend all your writing time fooling around on the ‘net--and to keep your name in front of your fans, you’ll need to pim… I mean, promote your next book and the next and the next.



  1. Great post, Ashlyn! It's a double-edged sword! You have to promote, but you have to write also!! But I'm with you. I have fun at both! On the SciFiGuy's blog, everyone was choosing wolf colors they'd like to be. So guess what??? We created a really neat, diversified wolf pack all of our own, and from around the world!!! Now what is more fun than that???

  2. This is where the online world shines, IMHO... promoting books and talking to readers.

    Great post, Ash!

  3. Hey, Ash! There's a lot of truth in that there blog!
    I've had tons of fun with my personal blog, and I get ideas from my readers, too. But in public, I'm not extroverted at all. At the SB booksigning in DC, I had a great time. There were people lined up for a signed copy of my books, but we were giving them away. It's a lot different when you're asking them to actually pay for the books. I've yet to do a signing in a bookstore. I've made a few attempts, but they've all fallen through. Maybe I'll actually try doing one with Fugitive, but it's hard to sell the fifth book in a series to someone who hasn't read the first one!

  4. Cheryl, VLT's books sell like hot cakes and she claims to do very little promo. Fortunately she writes for publishers that do it for her!

    It was smart to attend such a well attended free group signing first. I love group signings and prefer those to individual signings.

    I've had a few signings with very little traffic, but if I'm there with my writing partner, we have fun! She throws chocolate at people and gets them over to talk to us. I'm not that bold, but I'm happy to bounce off of and follow her lead.


  5. and always carry business cards! A Philly news station was doing a report from my gym this morning and I chatted up the reporter and the intern and handed out my cards. Since my series has a local hook and the contest with the B&B down the shore, she felt it would be a good thing for their morning show. So now I'm waiting for that call!

    I don't mind doing promo - I'm an extrovert, so just TRY to get me to shut up about my books. LOL. But the time it takes away from writing the next one is something you really have to balance.

  6. Fantastic, Judi! Congratulations!!!

    I'm looking forward to promoting a book I can call simply "romance" without the word, "erotic" in front of it! It's got to be SO much easier!


  7. Hi Ashlyn, it's me Kelly Kirch. This is the pen name I transferred to. ;)

    Promotion still isn't easy and I've gotten better at faking comfort in person. Usually I crack jokes. That way people laugh with me and it relieves the tension.

    At least with the internet it's semi-anonymous. LOL. You do fine without crossing any lines. Seems like it's too easy to over promote and wind up with whispered nastiness. You haven't shown up on that particular radar. :)

  8. Kelly! What a wild coincidence to find you here! LOL.

    See? It pays to gossip only in good ways. You never know who has changed their name and is hiding in plain sight or who has a google alert out.

    Great to know the new you!


  9. Drinking my coffee, thinking what I'd put on a business card, dreaming one day... maybe...

    Then back to reading. SciFiGuy's wolf pics are great aren't they Terry?