Sunday, February 20, 2011

A Call to Published Authors

Author promotion. Everyone's talking about it but does anyone really know what works and what doesn't?

Gone are the days when publishers spent the equivalent to a corrupt politician's annual income on promoting authors. Nowadays (perhaps thanks to those corrupt politicians) economies are sinking and publishers' budgets along with them.

I knew this when I was published, so I'm not complaining; I knew I wasn't going to hit the big-time or grow rich. That old adage, "Don't give up the day job" rang, and still rings, very true. 

So I've floundered about, trying to do the right thing, trying to follow all the advice: Twitter, post on FaceBook, have a blog, a website, social-network. It's all very well for the gregarious amongst us, but for a slightly introverted, shy person it's hell. I'd much rather live in my imagination and spend my time writing about the worlds I create. 

But marketing is just the thing for creative people, I hear you shout. So perhaps you can tell me what exactly a creative person is. My husband's creative - he can design and decorate a room to perfection, but he can't write fiction (and I can't even lay a table properly); my best friend can turn a swatch of material into a designer dress with a snap of a finger (and I can't thread a needle).

Advertising and publicity agents are all fine and dandy for the best-sellers. But how can a debut or midlist novelist afford that kind of thing?

I know I'm amongst the thousands milling out there in cyberland all crying "me, me, me". No-one's going to take much notice of my wee efforts unless, perhaps, I strip off and wander down the High Street. On second thoughts, maybe not...

Should authors stick together?

Authors! Any suggestions?


  1. Oh Sue I feel you!

    Here's what I've done, and by my calculations it's taken the same amount of time to do it all as it did to write the book.

    Begged a best selling author into giving me a review on the day of release.
    Submitted the book to every single review site I could find (two have reviewed so far).
    Made a book trailer and posted it EVERYWHERE.
    Set up author interviews.
    Set up a blog tour.
    Set up author profiles in every single place possible.
    Wrote short fiction pieces for review sites.
    Wrote articles for review sites.
    Haunted the Amazon and Goodreads group threads and discussion boards.
    Paid for three ad spots on the main review sites.
    Implored my friends to read and rate.

    The list goes on... has it helped my sales? Time I guess will tell. But the effort involved has been HUGE and it's eaten into my writing time no end.

    What else can we do though???

  2. I started networking long before the thought of being published. Last January (2010) I just opened up a word documetn and began. Once my manuscript was complete I read as much as I could on what to do. Lucky for me my blog has taken it off, the twitter and facebook style is a little tougher but I'm slowly getting the hang of it.

    I think being creative is exactly what one needs. I put myself in my characters shoes to decide how to best market them. I'm working on a few ideas myself on how to possibly sell a few more copies of my book!

    I wish you the best of luck!!!

  3. I could say "ditto" to everything Emma Shortt wrote, above. Then I would add that I have:

    * placed a LOT of comics and brightly colored drawings featuring my characters on the Internet.
    * I'm currently in the middle of my first ever author blog tour
    * I'm going to learn how to vlog now - if it kills me. Recording myself on video is not something I've ever wanted to do before.

    Posting a video means I need to get dressed, put on makeup and look like I'm sitting in a professional office. (Strangers will be able to see all my wrinkles, for goodness sakes. That's frightening on so many levels.)

    All of this PR work requires a ridiculous amount of unpaid effort. Question I keep asking myself is: "How bad do I want this?" (So I press on.)

    Wish me luck! (Many positive wishes for you too, love!) Onward and upwards we go.

  4. Absolutely we should stick together and I am looking forward to promoting you on Authors on Show and look forward to you doing the same for me. This is the way to go. All of us helping each other.
    Congratulations on being published - a huge accomplishment in today's world and I wish you many, many sales. Lorraine x

  5. Emma, you've done everything as far as I can see. Your trailer's great (that's one thing I didn't do). You deserve all success - we'll keep in touch.

    Jen, you were wise to start before publication. Many review sites want ARCs and galleys before the publishing date, so I missed those. Yes, put yourself in your characters shoes (oh dear - mine are totally messed up! :-)
    Thanks for helping.

    Vam, I do so wish you all the luck. I looked at vlogs yesterday. OMG. As you say, I'll have to get dolled up for it and then I'll probably scare the pants off most people! Took me all morning to slap on the makeup for my author picture.

    Lorraine, I am looking forward to promoting you in any way I can. After all, if I promote you I am doing something for myself as well. It works both ways - I think that is the way to go.

    Many thanks everyone.

  6. I've done just about what Emma has apart from the trailer and that is because I don't know how! It's hard but we have to keep at it and if we can help each other- we should. I've been badgering these last days and this morning Diavolino was placed as number 3 on the 'horror - last 30 days' section of and at number 6 in their corresponding thriller section. Keep pushing, Sue.

  7. Thanks Steve. There's a very fine line between pushing and being a pain in the neck LOL. Obviously the former is the only way to go about things, but how to avoid the latter....?

    That's great news about Diavolino. It is such a fantastic book, it deserves to be placed high.

  8. publicist--these are people who do this for a living--don't know much about cost etc...but at least it is their business..the other comments you've gotten are great suggestions...

  9. I don't think marketing is just the thing for creative people. I think being creative is helpful when marketing. There is a difference. You've done what you should in terms of beginning to create a buzz, but it takes time. Agents and publishers like authors to build a platform before publication for a reason; it takes time.

    You have to build a reader base, get your name and your work 'out there' and keep doing so long after you publish. Marketing is hard. Self promotion is even harder. Why do you think there are huge firms offering these services?

    Emma offers some great tips for marketing in her comment.

    I've been building a platform for almost three years, while writing and working at the same time. What I've noticed is that it does work, but not right away.

    And yes, authors should stick together and help each other out.

  10. Oh, and to make my post even longer, I forgot to add that I have seen results for my marketing efforts. I haven't published a novel yet, although I am querying three. I have published short fiction. I am paid for my writing because I freelance for several sites and I've been able to interview some amazing authors such as Robert J.Sawyer, Virginia Henley, Robert Munsch and Kate Pullinger. I am a contributing writer for a Canadian literary eZine where I write challenges each month that result in one writer having a flash piece published. I also moderate two writing groups, one with over 1200 members. It might not be the ultimate goal, but being 'known' helps to open some doors. This took me two years of marketing to achieve. Just for perspective on the whole time thing.

  11. If you haven't already found this site, it's full of very useful advice:

    (I don't have any involvement, just follow it.) All the best, Sue - and everyone else who's commenting.

  12. Thank you authorinprogress - yes, publicist was the word I was looking for in my text, not publicity agency! LOL. But, my, they're expensive.

    Renee, you've been doing exactly the right thing - you're well on your way. I know this isn't going to happen overnight and that it could take years, but I do congratulate you on your efforts.

  13. Thank you Deborah - I'm onto it now...

  14. Great post Sue! So glad I stumbled across your blog and best of luck. New follower:)

  15. Oh, yes, I feel that authors should stick together. There was a conference I went attended where the authors made me feel like a fumbling bumbling newbie. I didn't like it one bit. We need each other. Being an author is a VERY unique experience, so unlike regular occupations, you know? Thanks for the post!

    ♥.•*¨ Elizabeth ¨*•.♥

  16. Thank you Lindsay (you've got a new follower too!)

    Elizabeth I feel for you, I really do. What a horrible experience. Authors should know better, after all, they've been in that pre-published phase too. If I can do anything to give you a hand, let me know.

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