31 July 2010

Promoting Yourself (or Whoring for Grins and Giggles)

So, you’ve gone through the process of writing your book and getting it published. Time to focus on your next book, right?

Wrong.

Obviously, you still need to work on your next book, but if you don’t go through the process of promoting your book already published, it won’t sell enough to even get anyone interested in taking that second one you’re working on. If there’s one thing that causes a writer’s heart to stop in panic and fear, though, it’s the idea that they have to actually sell readers on the idea of buying their book.

The trouble is, if you’ve already gotten to the point of publication (and didn’t pay someone to do so), then you’ve already sold someone. Your publisher, agent and/or editor were all out there with no knowledge of your book before they took it on. So, in essence, what you need to do is carry that same focus into the reader realm. So, along that line, here are some tips and tricks for promoting yourself to readers (I won’t be going into specific promotion techniques, since those have been hashed ad nauseum elsewhere on the internet):

  • Remember that the book is what’s being sold and not you (regardless of the whoring comment in the title). You are ultimately the expert on the book you’ve written, and so have intimate knowledge of the specifics that would appeal to readers (after all, they appealed to those who already accepted your book).
  • On a related note, remember that rejection of your book is not rejection of its author (in most cases). People are as varied as anything in this world, and there will always be some people who have no interest in your work, no matter how hard you try.
  • Never turn down an opportunity to promote your book (just as you wouldn’t have turned down a partial request because you didn’t think it would lead anywhere). You never know when an avenue will pan out for you. Take for example an event I did a few years ago. The event wasn’t all too successful, but the contacts I made through that event may end up panning out even bigger than I hoped (details as soon as it comes to fruition, and I can share).
  • Interact and become friends with as many authors as you can. Authors are rabid readers, for one, and most are friendly enough to pass along additional promotional opportunities to their friends (don’t forget to do the same for them as well). Writing is a lonely, depressing business as it is without adding to the misery by alienating yourself.
  • People love authors who are generous. Giveaways are a great way to gain fans, some of whom will be rabid in promoting you to others they know. It doesn’t always have to be books (though that always helps), but it needs to be something of value. Contests are also great fun, since competition always gets people excited. Be stingy at your own risk.
  • Finally, don’t forget to have fun. As I mentioned, writing is a lonely, depressing business, but attitude is everything when promoting. Just as people like those who are generous, they also gravitate toward happy, energetic authors. So, put on a happy face and bring some joy to your potential readers.

So there you have it. Hopefully these have helped you generate some confidence, enough to get out there and promote yourself to the fullest.

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T. M. Hunter has always had a fascination with interstellar travel, spacecraft (and aircraft) and beings from other worlds. Twice a top ten finisher in the P&E Readers Poll for his short stories (2007, 2009), his book HEROES DIE YOUNG earned Champagne Books’ Best-Selling Book of 2008 award. FRIENDS IN DEED is his latest novel. For more information, including links to his published short stories and novels, please visit AstonWest.com. You can also find T. M. Hunter on Twitter, Facebook, and MySpace as well.