Tate, what you say about the expense of these types of things is absolutely true, but I did not say they were free. I said of my rules, that I will also bend them for things that I enjoy doing, like cons, readings, and interviews. Because, I'm a social person and an escapee from the theater asylum.
Cons in particular cost time and money. But I went to cons before I ever started writing, and I would continue going to at least one or two if I quit writing tomorrow. Since that's the case, doing self-promotion at those con does not significantly increase my cost. It adds between 3-5 hours worth of work to a vacation weekend. And it's work that I enjoy almost as much as I enjoy writing.
There are cons that I do that I would probably not if I didn't write, but those cons also comp me as a professional for doing panels and I enjoy them. I will also note that those cons contacted me about being on programming rather than the other way around. So, there was work involved, hard work even, some done by our confederate Lyda Morehouse, some done by the con staffs. And let me take this opportunity to publicly thank both Lyda and the very hard working programming people for that. I have fun participating and I very much appreciate the work involved in arranging programming and I probably would not be going to them otherwise.
On to signings. I have three for WebMage.
One was arranged by Tate, thank you. One is at a local bookstore. I stopped in on my way to lunch one day and chatted with the owner for five minutes, something I do frequently anyway. As I mentioned below I make a point of visiting bookstores, which is one self-promotional tool I recommend unreservedly. The third involved a request from a bookstore's author-events person generated by a conversation we were having about arranging for me to sign stock. Total time invested, maybe fifteen minutes. There is a possibility of a 4th signing as well to be held in St. Louis. I'm going to be there to give a talk on SF as a teaching tool, an unsolicited invitation. Again, I was at the book store for another reason-in town visiting friends-and stopped to sign stock. While I chatted with the clerk, they invited me to sign when I was in the area. 3 minutes invested so far, though I haven't yet decided if I'll do it or not.
I've had invitations to do several more signing events around the Twin Cities after stopping to sign stock at various stores, but I have turned them down because the two I'm doing here, even in an area as large as the Twin Cities is probably more than my current level of publishing reputation will sustain.
Interviews. Okay, I will freely admit that some of the interviews took some work on my part. I had to write a press release, in this case, 500 words inverted pyramid format. It took about an hour. It would have taken longer if I didn't have a frequently updated file of pull quotes and bio. But those are things that every writer should maintain as they are useful in things such as book submissions and contract negotiations. I also had to send the press releases out. I used email and pulled the addresses off of the websites of papers that I thought might be interested. Another ten minutes per newspaper for thirty minutes more. The one television interview I did for WebMage happened because they called me.
What all this means is that, A, I've been very very lucky. And B, yes I do do a lot of self- promotion, but most of it is stuff that doesn't take much work, money, or time that I wouldn't be spending anyway. I also turn down quite a few opportunities that would involve work, money, and time away from writing.
Oops, I realize I missed a couple of Tate's points.
Ads in the program book. I've only done this once, and then only because Tate did all the work and it was comparatively cheap. Ooh, there's another thank you. I might do it again under similar circumstance, but I really don't know. I'm not convinced that even under those circumstances it was a great idea for me (Tate may have a different take) except as a way to support a convention I already treasure, WisCon.
Business cards. Guilty as charged. ~$90.00 for 1,000 cards. They have the WebMage cover back and front and my website. They're wicked cool, and I did them as much because of that and the fact the my wife Laura wanted some for magnets as any other reason.
Wyrdsmiths Party and chapbook. Tate didn't mention this. It's a once a year event at WisCon where we throw a bash and launch the chapbook. Money, effort, and time. It's also cool, and chapbook costs included I don't spend much more than I do on throwing parties of the non-promotional variety, a not infrequent event in my life.
As I said in my original post. I would never say that a writer shouldn't do any promotion, just that you have to be very careful about how much and in what way. It's a cost benefit thing, and I think you could do much less than I do without it hurting your career.