Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Self-promotion or, Warning: being a published author means you are entering a whine-free zone.

A recent comment on a writing blog caused me to start mumbling under my breath and making impolite mutterings to my cats and furniture. (This is what one does when one is housebound and sick for a long time.) I'm paraphrasing the commenter here, who said something to the effect that s/he missed the good old days of publishing, when writers only had to write the books and publishers marketed them all, but alas, writers no longer live in that world and now we are (wailing and gnashing of teeth!) forced to (horrors!) self-promote!!!

I have news for you: We have never lived in that fantasy world.

Not ever.

Most authors have been responsible for the bulk of their own self-promotion all the way back to Dickens' time. (And Dickens was a master of self-promotion, by the way.) Because publishing brings in such a narrow margin of profit, publishers have always relegated the bulk of their promotional resources to those books that they see as their best opportunity for a return on their investment. And the more money they have invested in the manuscript, the more they're going to want to promote that manuscript. It's pretty simple math.

But authors have always been expected to do their own self-promotion and outreach. It's in every author questionnaire ever sent to an author by a publisher. It's in every conversation an agent has with a potential new client (and if it isn't, it should be): What will you be doing to aid in the promotional efforts for your own work?

It just seems that today I'm hearing writers complain about it a lot more.

Well, stop whining and suck it up. Every job comes with unpleasant tasks, even being a published writer.

When I first started working in bookstores in the early 1980s, new authors came by our tiny little store every week to self-promote, setting up their own signings, and leaving flyers, brochures and sample chapters that they'd created themselves. And might I remind you that this was years before word processors, people. Think about how much time and energy they'd invested. (Have you ever tried using rub-off typesetters letters from film? It's not easy!)

They had elaborate mailing lists - MAIL! ON PAPER! WITH STAMPS! - that they'd use to invite friends, neighbors and business colleagues. (Stamps, people! USPS!) And it worked, because the writers worked their collective asses off.

In 1985, one local writer drove himself to every tiny little bookstore in the San Francisco Bay Area (including ours) to introduce himself to the booksellers and talk about his new fantasy novel about...(wait for it!) cats. The author was Tad Williams. The book was Tailchaser's Song; it's still considered a classic of modern fantasy and - more importantly - it's still selling.

The rise of the Intarweb has only made the author's job that much easier. The marketing tools at your disposal - many of them completely free! - are endless and amazing: blogs, websites, Facebook, Twitter, Good Reads, Library Thing, a million other social networking sites, chat rooms, writers forums, YouTube, Google video, video blogs, podcasts, iTunes, free access to the internet at nearly any library (yeah, you just don't have that excuse anymore so let it go).

You want to create a professional looking postcard to give away? There are places for that, like Vista Print. Another great place, GoCard, will even distribute the postcards for you. Want to create a flyer? Open up MS Word and look at the free templates available. Or go online, where even more free templates are available. Don't know what good marketing or publicity is? Buy a book! There are dozens of great ones out there written by professional PR people designed specifically to help you self-promote. Like this one and this one and this one.

Do any of the millions of creative and positive things that are available for you out there to promote your own book. But what I don't want to hear you doing anymore is moaning about how the writer has to do all the work.

Suck it up, people. Things are hard everywhere and whine-time is officially over.


Anonymous said...

Back when I was a publicist, I had an author say to me once: "It's not MY job to promote my book, it's YOURS."

Perhaps not uncoincidentally, his book went down as the worst selling title in the history of our house.

Makenna Johnston said...

Seriously!? Life is all about self promotion. And its a good skill to have.

People should never expect other people to make things happen...The most successful people in the world do the dirty work themselves first, and then get lucky enough to have someone else do it for them.

Whatever. People who only want to write should work for a newspaper or be a professor. Oh wait, that requires work too. Shit, I guess whiners never win.

Makenna Johnston said...

oh and p.s. at least they are published. there are thousands of people who would take their spot AND promote themselves. step out of line, I'm sure someone else will take your place gladly and with a smile.

Anonymous said...

First, WELCOME BACK! I missed your posts.

Second, my answer to that question would probably be similar to when the SPCA asked (when we adopted our dog), "How much will you spend annually on his vet care?" "Um, whatever is necessary."

That's how I feel about promotion. I have a blog, but when (I'm in a positive place today, so I'm not going for the negative "if") I am published, I will start another one for that purpose. I've started thinking about how to work in bookstore stuff with trips we take regularly. I've made some network connections with someone who chairs a sci-fi/fantasy convention.

Have I researched the promotional side yet? No, because I'm not at that stage yet, but I have considered it. And my answer hasn't changed, when the time comes, I'll do whatever is needed.

Writers who do otherwise are just shooting themselves in the foot.

(Sorry, that turned into a little bit of a rant there.)

Anyway, I am glad you are feeling better - and especially better enough to get worked up over something. It's a good sign you are on the mend.

Anonymous said...

Not only is self-promotion necessary, it’s also educational. I’ve learned much about writing and the publishing industry through Twitter, Facebook, others’ blog posts. So promoting myself has actually enabled me to become a better, more-informed writer. My only complaint is that it’s too easy to get sucked into these tools and end up with a lot less time to write… but that’s just a self-restraint issue. I’ll tackle that problem right after I fix my caffeine addiction.

Anna Claire said...

You're absolutely right, we have it waaaay easier now than writers did even five years ago.

I like the Shrinking Violet Promotions blog, which gives great advice to those of us (and apparently we are legion) who are introverts:

Sabina E. said...

I WOULD glady self-promote if I ever had the fortune of getting published.

JK Rowling did a LOT of self promotion when her books came out! I mean, part of the reason why she's so famous (aside from writing Harry Potter) is because she has emerged as a PUBLIC FIGURE, like Stephen King, instead of hiding behind the curtain and shoving her books forward to the publishers.

Anonymous said...

Don't forget the power of a blog to promote a book. You could post sample chapters, comments from readers and your own deep thoughts. People seem really interested in how writers write (how long did it take? where'd you do it?) so that would be a good blog topic. Blogs also enable conversations with readers, like this one.

Also, for business cards, makes really cute mini-cards. I've got some and everyone asks about them.

raballard said...

As a "yet to be piblished or represented" author I have my self-promotion planned dwon to the last dotted i. I developed a web page before had finished my first chapter. I started a blog, in hopes of recognition. I joined most of the networking sites. I have a 30 city tour mapped out in my dreams. I am ready to fulfill my part of being published.

Your blog should be used as a template to success. I enjoy it.


A.S. King said...

Reason #586763 you ROCK.

Yay for this post.


Anonymous said...

I couldn't agree more. I grew up working my holidays for theatre companies my actor parents ran. Running a show on a shoestring budget meant that everyone had to do their bit when it came to promotion and as the youngest member of the company I was usually the one who got sent off to do the leg work with flyers etc.
When my first book was published before Christmas I assumed it was much the same rules. I've now got fairly used to going round to bookshops and asking to sign copies of my book to get that special "signed by the author" sticker that means they are often better placed.
Yes I'd rather be at home in front of the computer but it has to be done, it's a way to get to know the booksellers and if I write a book in the future that is less commercial then I'm going to need any good will I can drum up now. Besides in the current climate every little helps and if there's something I can do that will help the sales of my book I'm going to do it. I also write a blog and use Twitter to establish a presence beyond the bookshops I can walk to. I'm only starting out but I look on writing as a long haul process. If one day I'm lucky enough to have a flotilla of publicity people buzzing round me and handling all that stuff then that'd be great. In the meantime I'll keep blogging and my special "signing pen" is always in my handbag.

Vieva said...

I think part of the problem is the sheer proliferation of options.

I want a nice easy list of "do this, that, and the other thing" - or even an idea of which efforts provide results and which ones don't.

I know, I know - the moon on a platter. But if I wanted to do all the research to find that out, I'd already be IN marketing.

I'm willing to do the work. Eager, even. But - I want it to be productive, because the mental energy I put into promotion is energy that can't go to the next novel. I'd really rather not waste it.

(of course, I have currently nothing published but a couple of webnovels, so take the saltshaker and pass it down)

Jess Haberman said...

Great post! I've been so lucky to have authors who are go-getters and do so much really good self-promotion without any help. But I know the "It's not MY job" comment can come anytime. Would it be unprofessional to direct them to this post? LOL. Thanks again!


Stella Price said...

Thanks for posting this! Im a small press author, and since day one, before my first book was published, I was out there making connections to reviewers and websites,creating myspaces for myself and my characters, a forum website for information, blogs, you name it. Once we got our first book in print I went nuts getting promotional stuff (postcards, flyers, bookmarks,Stickers with our catch phrase on them, etc) and learned how to use Vistaprint to my advantage because I wasn't making huge bank with anything we had published. I learned how to get the most for my money and get the name of the book and out name out there, and contacted the right book clubs and everything. It's been a hard and long road, and only after 2 years have we finally started to get recognition, and better sales. True, I'm not with some of the bigger small presses, but I have also learned that I do 150% more then the majority of their authors (who I think feel they don't need to promote because of what houses they are with).

What I wonder is why publishers keep taking work from people that don't sell and don't promote. I understand that publishing is a business, but if you put the time and the effort into publishing a book, and the author doesn't promote it, isn't that throwing good money after bad? It completely baffles the mind that someone who is gifted with a publishing contract, regardless of with who wont or don't lift one finger to get that work out there.
Great topic and I'm glad to see an agent telling it like it is.

Eva Ulian said...

Delightful post. If an author has no enthusiasm to promote his/her own book, without saying "oh look, how great", how can he/she expect anyone else to promote it? Never fall into the trap celebrities don't integrate because they are already adored, it's nice to remember: it's a good job God finds time to mess about with people- so should authors.

Unknown said...

Thank you! Awesome post.

Unknown said...

Right on, Colleen! Getting your book published does not mean the publisher believes it will, by itself fly off the shelves -- it means the publisher believes that the author is capable of piloting his/her book off the shelves.

An author may get lucky and, by the sheer force of their writing find their work accepted by agent and/or publisher. But, such authors need to know up front without a platform or standing in their target community of readers, they will absolutely have to work harder, longer, and faster than those authors who enter the publishing game prepared to market.

I highly recommend Lissa's book to any author setting out on their own marketing/publicity journey. (And, I recommend reading it, and doing any other research/prep as soon as possible -- even before you start writing, if possible).

Thanks for the post, Colleen. And so glad you are feeling better.

Criss L. Cox said...

Good golly, I hadn't even thought about the "five years ago" aspect... We have it so easy!!!

One of the reasons I've stayed at my crummy day-job (teaching high school) is because in the back of my mind, I've been thinking, "When I finally finish and edit my YA novels, I can give author talks here at school... the librarians can help hook me up with other librarians..." so on and so forth. Like raballard, I've started planning out how and where I'll promote my novels (... even though I probably should spend that time working on the writing and editing of the novels, no? What - cart? Horse? What are you talking about?)

Unknown said...

I posted my marketing plan just this past weekend,

I think a lot of us bemoan the time taken away from writing, but nobody thinks they shouldn't be doing their own marketing. We all have tight schedules these days that sometimes it's a trade off: Do I spend my time marketing or...?

Plus so many of our best marketing tools can become huge time-sucks if we don't exercise self-restraint. ;-D

Thanks for the excellent post.
~ Stormy

Gretchen said...

Awesome post. I, for one, am willing to whore myself out to the god of book promotion. I'd raise an eyebrow at any writer who wasn't.

Cathy in AK said...

Are the same folks who are griping about promoting their book to increase sales also griping about it being edited and revised earlier on to make it better? Probably not. Writing a good story and then getting it in readers' hands are two sides of the successful writer coin.

Thanks for reminding us that the work doesn't stop with "The End".

Unknown said...

People whine about self-promotion? Really? You'd think that anyone with a book they care about would want to personally make sure the world sees it. Especially when the Internet makes it so easy!

The idea of old-school mailing lists does interest me, though. I'll have to keep that in mind. No one'll expect paper mailout promos from a child of the electronic age, bwahaha!

(And feel better, Colleen! Drink lots of tea, tea in sufficient quantity fixes everything!)

L.C. Gant said...

Great to have you back, Colleen! And thanks for a wonderful post.

I find it ironic that the writer in question used a blog for the purposes of his/her rant. Think about it; using a blog--a means of self-promotion--to complain about how writers have to do self-promotion! Hysterical!

Still, I share Vieva's concerns about book promotion. The key is not just to work hard, but to work smart. There are so many avenues out there that writers have at their disposal these days that it's easy to get overwhelmed.

I've chosen to put my effort into a few marketing tools with a high success rate (i.e., blogging, Twitter, Facebook/MySpace, etc.), rather than wear myself out doing all kinds of random things that may or may not work. That way, it isn't such a scary process.

TheOneTrueSue said...

I don't understand why an author would object to starting a blog. It's WRITING. You're a WRITER. Get out there and help yourself a little.

I started a blog two years ago, specifically because I hoped I'd be published one day, and figured having an audience that already enjoyed my writing voice could only help me. When I finally started querying agents a few months ago, it was really nice to be able to let them know I had a platform/following. I sent out five query letters and got back three requests for partials, which turned into three requests for fulls (fingers currently violently crossed). Obviously, I'm hoping they're interested in reading my full manuscript because of my WRITING, and not my blog, but still. It's a good thing.

And if the worst happened, and I couldn't get published in the traditional way, I could self publish and I'd have a built-in audience.

Anonymous said...

Great post. Self-promotion allows me to talk about my book (NICE GIRLS DON'T HAVE FANGS, released March 31, 2009 by Pocket Star) which is something I LOVE to do. Seriously, most of the people within shouting distance are sick of hearing about my book. I need a fresh audience.

Self-promotion has also allowed me to establish friendships with other authors, whose advice and support has been invaluable.

Anyone who doesn't like talking about writing or feels they're above gestures like meeting readers, promotional contests or blogging may be in the wrong profession. If you want your book to sell, allowing you to write even more books, you promote them.

Kat Richardson said...

Hrm... umm.... One of the difficulties I have as a writer is managing to do enough promotion without driving myself into the ground so I'm too tired to write the books. It's a balancing act. It all needs to get done and in the middle of it all the writer also needs to have a life, spend time with their family, and not go insane. While blogging may, indeed, be writing, it's not the writing that actually fills the contract and pays the bills. I'm not saying "don't bother to promote" or that promotion is not the author's job"--you bet it is--but a little balance and sanity is necessary.

At the moment, there are so MANY options for writers promoting online that we're given the idea we HAVE to use them all. Personally, I don't. Yup, it probably lowers my profile and yes, it probably lowers some of my buzz, but it also allows me to continue to love my computer and my job and find time to have a life away from my desk.

Now, I can't recommend this for every writer--I don't recommend it for most even--but I hired a publicist recently so I can cut down on the some of my research and production time on the promotion and put that back into writing. I'd like to produce 3 novel length manuscripts this year and I can't do that if I'm spending the kind of time promoting that I did the past 3 years. I still go to stores and signings, appear at conventions, do interviews, teach, and blog (badly), but I'm going to be spending less time on the background stuff so I can write instead. I'm good at that. I'm lousy at promotion, so I'm paying someone to help me.

When you self-promote, you need to pick and choose. Sometimes you have to let things go. Whining, however, really isn't useful.

Caroline said...

Good advice, and not only the 'stop whining' part. People have to be proactive when it comes to things like this.

Unknown said...

On a broader note, I think "the good old days of publishing" are largely a myth. Right? People talk about how editors used to handhold and shepherd people through the process, and how authors could write whatever they wanted without an eye to whether or not people would buy it, and... I find it hard to believe things were ever as rosy as many modern-day writers think they must have been.

Elissa M said...

Writers are self-employed. Whether you free-lance articles or write books, you're self-employed. Which means promoting your product IS your job.

Maybe because I'm an artist and my husband is a musician, I get this. Maybe lots of writers don't because they're used to working for "the man" and write only in their free time.

More than half of all businesses fail in their first year. Lack of advertising and promotion is a major cause of this.

People who aren't interested in promotion are basically saying they aren't interested in sales, so they shouldn't even bother trying to get published. They can just write all they want in their garrets or ivory towers, isolated from reality.

Okay, rant over. Great post, as most everyone has already said.

Unknown said...

This is The. Best. Post. Ever. (Well, at least until you come up with another "stop whining and DO SOMETHING, you sissies!" entry.)

A lot of writers are introverts -- a LOT of us. It's all I can do to make myself leave my house most of the time, but I WILL go wherever I need to go and do whatever I need to do when my novel is published. I'll risk looking like a deer in headlights. I'll say "uh" often and laugh inappropriately because I'm nervous and smile politely at people I don't know in the hope they'll smile back.

And you know what? All of that terribly scary interpersonal stuff will become grist for the next novel's mill. :-)

Unknown said...

Disorderly -

As someone who once suffered from debilitating shyness, I totally understand the correlation between writers and introverts.

The beauty of doing self promotion now as opposed to 25 years ago when Tad Williams was out pressing palms and making nice with booksellers is that the Internet provides a safe place for introverts to self promote. Online interviews and chats are pretty painless, really.

And for those of you who don't feel comfortable speaking in public, and all the kinds of self-promotion that would entail (podcasting, radio, TV, book readings) - guess what? There are ways to help yourself with that as well. You can take a public speaking class or a debate class. Trust me; these are always helpful and at about $450 a pop, a worthwhile investment not only in your future career as a published writer, but in yourself and your self-esteem.

Nothing is impossible.



Anonymous said...

Just a question:

While yes, it is an author's job to do promotion, how much responsibility is on the publisher to also do promotion? After all, they're the ones who are investing money in the project.

Do publishers set up engagements or does that always fall upon the agent and author? Are these engagements always run out of the pocket of the author or does the publisher pay for some?

I'm still a relative newbie and I really don't know.

Unknown said...

Miguelito -

If by "set up engagements" you mean book tours, you probably won't get one as a new author unless your publisher had a vested interest in sending you on one.

And by vested interest, I mean that a.) they have paid an extraordinary sum of money for your manuscript (over 50k, generally), or b.) you have some unquantifiable star quality that the publicity & marketing people think they can use to promote the book. China Mieville is a good example of this: he's extremely good looking, amazingly articulate and erudite when speaking AND he was running for Parliament in England at the time his book was being published. Those three things together made him an instant star.

But in most cases, publishers won't be sending new authors on a book tour.

There are some helpful links on what publicity and marketing to expect from your publisher on the sidebar of my blog. You might want to read through those for more specific examples.

Hope that was helpful.


Robert C Roman said...

Welcome back, Colleen! It's good to hear from you again.

On the self-promotion note, I've found and been given so much contradictory information, it's difficult to know who expects what in terms of promotion. At the same time, if a publisher (or agent!) ever thinks my book is worth publishing, I've always expected to do a certain amount of promotional work, and I'm willin gto do whatever it takes to make my book a success. Of course, there were things I wanted to do which I wasn't sure if I'd be allowed to do, which it turns out now fall squarely into the 'self-promotion' realm.

Don't ask. It's embarrassing, and I shan't tell you.

Anyhow, a question which I'm hoping someone with some experience in the field has time to answer: Is it out of line for an author to ask their publisher or agent which self-promotional activities are currently effective, or to ask which activities the publisher or agent recommends? I have no problem doing lots of work, but I'd rather not spend all my time doing the wrong thing, y'know?

Gary Gibson, science fiction writer said...

I completely get where you're coming from, but successful self-promotion, I suspect, is tied into an individual author's skill at self-promoting. Being a published author doesn't automatically make a writer good at dealing with marketing in the same way it doesn't necessarily mean they're any good at editing, book design, typesetting and so forth.

Don't get me wrong, I'm all for authors promoting themselves. And yes, there's a vast array of tools out there to do so online. However, authors who spend a lot of time promoting themselves might in fact be better off getting on with improving their writing rather than spending time on book-related forums, writing blog entries or even commenting on them (see? I should be working, not writing this). The point about a blog - to pick one tool as an example - is you do it because you like doing it anyway, not because you're constantly trying to pitch yourself to a potential audience. John Scalzi has a hugely successful blog because he really likes blogging, and he happens to be very good at it, not because it was Point Four on his Marketing Masterplan.

I'm also a little bit sceptical about the argument concerning Tad Williams. The implication seems to be that working hard at marketing led to his success, when the reality is that writing a book people really wanted to read led to his success.

All the marketing in the world won't make a book that's merely average fly off the shelves. What will make an average book fly off the shelves is the greatest marketing tool of them all - word of mouth, personal recommendations spread not by the author but by other people who just happened to read their book and liked it enough to tell their friends and family they knew they really, really should read it. That's how you get a Da Vinci Code or Harry Potter phenomenon going.

Don't get me wrong, doing a bit of marketing can't do any harm, except inasmuch as it distracts a writer from what they really should be doing, which is improving and honing their writing. Sure, go on GoodReads, hit a few forums, comment on blogs (see?), but don't mistake it for being anything much more than standard authorial procrastination. If you want success, write a damn good book. Marketing a book that's just meh will just leave you with piles of unsold meh.

Stacy said...

Gary, you seem to have confused self-promotion with screwing around online.

Jess said...

This is a great post.

Self-promotion is a numbers game. Reaching as many people as possible increases your odds to create buzz. So I say, use the loudspeakers at malls and grocery stores. It's free and reaches a huge audience in seconds.

If you pretend that your blog or unpublished novel is a lost grandparent, they'll announce almost anything over those paging systems.

Unknown said...

Love this type of post Colleen. You sound like you're getting back on your feet.

ryan field said...

Good post.

raballard said...

We, as authors do not need to be published to self promote. There are various web sites where your voice can be heard. Commenting on blogs such as this, without actualy posting your Query, or portions of your MSS. is a good way to be recognized.
Start a blog, my blog was mentioned in another's blog yesterday. I don't no the person who mentioned my blog, and I don't know the person whose blog my blog was metioned on. My point is a possitive blog is a way to self promote prior to getting your foot in the publishing door.

raballard said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Ulysses said...

A well executed kick to the pants. Thank-you, Colleen, and welcome back. You have been missed.

Unknown said...

Gary -- important to keep in mind that ideally "marketing" is not some artificial or forced series of pushing content at an uninterested audience. Good marketing involves using tools to capitalize on and increase the spread of good word of mouth. Effective, well-executed marketing is a process that begins with creation of a "marketable" (well-written, engaging, worthy of being read) book and ends with that book finding its way into the hands of interested readers. Good marketeers and successful authors (and certainly not authors who wish to sell a second or third book to a publisher) don't rely on the greatness of the book and hope as the basis for their marketing plan. It's way too easy for a great book to sit quietly on a shelf until and go unnoticed.

L. Clarke said...

I have written a book called Doom Of The Shem, it is a futuristic alien invasion novel. It is a great deal of work to write, and so artists demanding help is natural I think. I agree though that the advent of the internet and e-books greatly changes the history of self promotion from now on. I can contact millions of viewers with my own adds, at the touch of my fingers. Some thing Jules Verne could never have done in his own time.
It is up to the authors a bit to try and create marketing ploys too.
War Of The Worlds was a wonderful ploy, people will always remember that radio show. The use of new mediums is up to individuals imagination. Some may say it scare tactics but at least it was a honest attempt to catch audiences attention.
I will try myself more to market what I have projuced through the toil of my own labor. It is always hard work to work , but the fruits of ones own labor make it worth savouring.

Anonymous said...

I will admit I don't particularly look forward to the marketing aspect, however, if it gets my book sold and my dream to come true, I'll do it. Every job as an unpleasant aspect; marketing is such an aspect to being a successful novelist.

And now, it's much easier to self promote than ever. I feel blessed to have all of these resources available to me now as compared to what was out there 5 or 10 years ago.

It could be much worse too. I'd rather spend time marketing myself than doing something else (like say, being a secretary in real estate, I am now...).

Ally Blue said...

Speaking as the least organized person on the face of the planet, I am here to tell you that it's possible to hold down a full time EDJ (Evil Day Job), write your novels, promote your novels, and still not get divorced, lose your kids or go insane. It's all a balancing act. Which I'm still learning, BTW, but yeah. It can be done!

One of the very best tools I've found is a group blog. I share blog duty with a few other authors in my genre. We each blog one day out of the week. One of our most popular promos is this: every holiday, we each contribute a free short story to the blog. We spread the news far and wide on our website, other blogs, Yahoo groups, etc etc. This is a HUGE draw. Clearly, free reads bring in the readers. For me, a quick, fun story a few times a year is a relatively easy thing to do.

I don't understand why an author would not want to do everything he or she could to promote their work. Sure, it can be difficult, but it's necessary.

BTW, Colleen, I've just discovered your blog. I have now bookmarked it! Excellent information here :)

richgoldstein13 said...

The key to self-promotion is to commit a crime interesting enough that people want to know about it, but not serious enough that they won't let you profit from your crimes. Streaking is a good way to do it... also, scamming the elderly.

Sex Mahoney for President

Unknown said...


Thanks for telling it straight. I have my first novel coming from Swimming Kangaroo, *Magic, Mensa and Mayhem.* The publisher, a great lady, recently contracted with me to mentor her writers in marketing, even paying for part of their tutelage. She does a lot already, but she can't do it all, and she's found the books that sell are the ones who have authors that promote.

To me, the publisher's main job is the ensure easy distribution (which is getting harder, it seems, with the big conglomerates) and to get review copies into the major reviewers--Publisher's Weekly, Library Journal, etc.

And Makenna--right on! There are plenty of us authors who write very well and are willing to work for our sales. The rest of you--do some other kind of writing-for-pay or self-publish, so the traditional publishers can concentrate on us.

VampireFaust said...

Fabulous post! I couldn't agree more! I spend hours every day updating blogs, creating marketing materials, contacting bookstores, etc. and never ONCE have I ever whined about it. It drives me crazy when people don't want to do the legwork to make sure people actually read what they have written.

jamiegrove said...

I'll never figure out why authors complain about the "work" of promotion. After all, there are plenty of nice desks in cube farms just waiting for bright people who can type quickly.

"Run, run! Off you go Ms/Mr Writer! Out of the fun and into the Mill!" :)

Awesome post, Colleen!

Anonymous said...
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Janice Campbell said...

You're absolutely right, Colleen. Authors who promote, sell. The others? Not so much.

There was a reason that Charles Dickens and Mark Twain (to name just two of the excellent marketers of the past) spent a lot of time traveling around speaking and making contacts. It was because they knew it was necessary in order to sell the maximum number of books. The more books you get out there, the greater your chance of achieving publishing immortality.

Today's writers don't have to get on a horse or spend days on a steamboat in order to promote their works. They can walk to their computer, flip a switch, and speak to the world. How amazing is that? There are NO excuses!