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.