Saturday, October 7, 2017

Self-Promotion and the Urge to Keep Writing

If you can’t afford a publicity agent to do or help with the promotion of your new book, you will haveto do it yourself.

Let’s say you have a traditional publisher who does some of the promotion for you, or an indie or hybrid publisher who supports you by holding webinars on marketing, or by sending you promotional ideas. That is all well and good, but any more than that is usually reserved for the few authors who can afford to pay for awards and reviews, so crucial to book sales, or who can tour the country and attend library and book fairs that continually pop up where book-lovers are found.

To be sure, all of this generates book sales not only for the author,  but for the publisher as well. The more an author can participate in promotional venues, the more revenue the publisher is likely to receive. Having been in business myself, I understand from the publisher’s perspective that those are the authors to concentrate on. Publishers will often visit the events of these authors or invite them to visit theirs, they will travel with them on tour, and arrange getaways and workshops where they can gather together and with other authors. They will also promote them online. But where does that leave the rest of us? The ones who have the audacity to publish without a ton of money to back it up.

 I am a very positive person. I guess you would have to be in order to believe you could write your first book at age seventy-seven, find a publisher for it at age eighty-two and learn how to promote it between ages eighty-four and eighty-seven. What a lot of Chutzpah huh?  But, stupid me, I didn’t think about what happens after all the hoopla over my wonderful accomplishment dies down and I have to fend for myself? I was just so excited about getting my little book published, I missed that one.

And now, you have to face the fact that you cannot afford to apply to those books-sites that could award or review your book because their costs range from fifty to seventy-five dollars, to two hundred and fifty, and even four hundred or more for Kirkus. And what about all those tours and yearly book conventions? Wait a minute, there will be airfare, hotels, and restaurants?. And those book and library fairs where there are usually entry fees and table fees, not to mention the money you have to fork out if the event is in a city or town other than your own. Even online sites, where most everything used to be free, are charging more and more each year.

 I know it’s worth it. You can actually sell a lot of books this way and get folks interested in you and what you are writing, and I know there are ways to work with other authors in groups to bring down costs, which is a good thing.  But what if you are unable to do this for one reason or another? Or just do not have money available for these kinds of events or can’t leave town? Does that mean you shouldn’t write a book, much less try to get it published? And God forbid you should self-publish. The costs for that pile up before you realize it, and you could end up with nothing left over for distribution and promotion.

As I said, I am basically a positive thinking person and a problem solver so I will never give up trying. And I am lucky to have an extremely helpful hybrid publisher. But, now that four months have passed since my pub date, I’m for all intents and purposes on my own. So, each day I plug away a little at a time: a book-signing here, a library reading or book club presentation there, and a lot of hopping around on social media and book sites. I read all the tips and suggestions on marketing and promotion I can find, and try to come up with some creative ones of my own. It’s a full-time job and sometimes exhausting, but one I can’t seem to shake as evidenced by the fact that I have started a second book. I guess I’m just a glutton for punishment.


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