Over the last few months, I’ve been invited to speak at various writers conferences—RT Booklovers Convention, Chicago-North’s Spring Fling, RWA National Conference, Evanston Writers Workshop—about publicity and marketing of books in today’s ever-changing publishing climate. It’s always hard for me to prepare for these things, because everyone involved is at a different stage in their publishing journey! But I have noticed some similar questions/ideas come up at almost every event, and I thought I’d share them here today.
1. I have to do all kinds of social media to be successful. I don’t believe this… with so many different ways to connect (Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Blogs, Websites, Four Square, Apps, Reddit, Google+… among others), social media can become very overwhelming. My advice to authors is to find one or two that you like and can handle, and stick with those. Can you reach more people if you do more? Perhaps, but only if you keep it consistently updated and you make an effort to engage with your audience. You can link your accounts, so when one updates so does the other, but that can be tricky—especially on something like Twitter where you’re limited to a specific amount of characters. How do you decide what’s best for you? Try them out. Google how-to guides, look at what fellow authors are doing, explore! That’s the only way you’ll find what you’re comfortable with (not just me telling you to do something).
ABOVE ALL—you should have a well-designed website that serves as a hub for all of your activity!
2. What’s the secret formula to making it big? Guess what? There isn’t one! Ask any bestseller out there and you’ll get a variety of answers, but a few things come up: hard work, perseverance, and most importantly, a GREAT book that you’re proud to share with the world.
Robyn Carr told us at the RWA National Conference Awards Luncheon that it took her 29 years before she hit it big. Twenty. Nine. Years. Think about that for a while.
3. So, you like, read all day, right? I wish. My answer to this question used to be, “I’m not an editor!” but then I learned about what editors do—they don’t read all day either. Do I love the fact that my job is always different, I get to work with a fabulous team of people, represent a great company and help out with fulfilling the dreams of people who go from aspiring to published? Yes, yes I do. And when I did get a few minutes to read through the first chapter of one of your books during work hours, that’s just an added bonus. Otherwise, I like, read all night.
4. Do I REALLY have to promote? Short answer: YES. At many other presentations (ones that I try to sneak into under the radar), I hear it iterated that publishers don’t do much to support authors, and they expect authors to do everything on their own. Sourcebooks is a little bit different—we have two puiblicists dedicated to promoting our romance novels, and we expect our authors to collaborate with us on getting the word out about their books. We can’t do everything—you can’t do everything… so let’s work together to do an awesome job for your book’s success.
5. I know I shouldn’t, but that negative review was just plain mean—I have to say something. NO, actually you don’t. And you definitely shouldn’t. There’s been a lot of controversy around the blogosphere, on various online retailer sites, and in the media about the author/reader/reviewer relationship. Authors behaving badly (or their friends… or significant others… or avid fans) does not make for good PR. The old adage that any PR is good PR only works when you let it happen that way. Stirring the pot or feeding the flame because of one person’s less than stellar review is NOT OK. Obviously you don’t have control over everything—which can be uncomfortable—but you do have control over yourself. Think before you hit sent/press save/upload a comment!
So there you have it! Some recurring topics of discussion that have come up in recent months. AUTHORS: What’s something you’ve heard and want to chat about in the comments today? READERS: what kind of interaction are you looking for from authors—great books first and foremost, yes, but how else do you want to connect with them?
GIVEAWAY: Answer my question and I’ll giveaway 2 fabulous Georgette Heyer surprise book bundle to random commenters. And for funsies—Sourcebooks authors, this one is open to you too :-) 1 bundle for an author, and 1 bundle for a reader.