Friday, May 15, 2009

Self Promotion

First of all, thanks to Kelly for all the cat pictures; and I hope we are going to get a Wisconsin Dells report.

I agree with everything Kelly says about sell-promotion. Every once in a while I read a story about someone who loads his or her van with a zillion copies of a self-published book such as The Best of Norwegian Humor, and then drives through the Upper Midwest pitching the book at Lutheran church dinners and actually ends with a modest best seller.

Doesn't happen often. I have never personally seen self-promotion work. Most of the writers I know who've tried it decide it's too much hard work for too little result -- as Kelly points out.

Does anything help a writing career? Going to cons, possibly. It doesn't hurt to meet editors and agents, though you should be careful about when and where you pitch your work. It doesn't hurt to meet people who review for Locus and Publisher's Weekly. It certainly doesn't hurt to meet other writers.

There is a lot of information to be gained from other people in the field. And I find cons a lot of fun, through I limit the number for financial reasons and because they take too much time and energy.

Nowadays, there are email lists, Facebook, LiveJournal and maybe blogs, though I have questions about blogging, except on group blogs such as this one. It's a lot of work for an audience that may be very small.

The above isn't promoting a specific book. It's networking and learning. Once in a while the contacts you make may prove really useful. An agent or editor and reviewer will take a look at something you wrote, because he or she knows and likes you -- and because you did not back him or her into a corner with a pitch.

After you have work published, cons can be a good way to meet people who like your work. It is always nice to be told that something you wrote is wonderful. Having a web presence also means fans can find you, and sometimes editors.

It's fun to print up postcards or bookmarks and hand them out, as long as you can afford the cost and as long as you realize that you aren't going to get a lot of sales from bookmarks. Do it to celebrate a book. Wow! I finished it, and it's out!

I don't like readings or book signing, though I will do them if asked. Even when I have a recent book, I find almost no one wants my autograph. Book signing are fun when you are with other authors and can talk to them. This is especially true if the authors next to you are not especially popular, so there isn't a long line of fans interfering with the conversation.

I'm not especially comfortable reading out loud. Once in a while I get a wonderful response from someone, which makes the reading worthwhile.

I do like panels and push to get on them, though not as eagerly as I used to. There are too many topics that come up over and over; and sometimes the people who do con programming -- who are all volunteers -- are a hassle to deal with, either because of inexperience or rigidity.

I think paneling has helped me overcome a pretty serious case of stage fight, and that is nice. When I began going to cons in the 1970s, I was really shy. I had to train myself to speak in public. My friend Patrick used to sit in the audience and tell me afterward what I had done wrong.

I guess -- looking over this list -- my message is, do things because you enjoy doing them. Realize they are not going to turn your book into a best seller or do more than increase sales by a handful of books.

And as Kelly says, write.


Anonymous said...

"I have never personally seen self-promotion work. Most of the writers I know who've tried it decide it's too much hard work for too little result"

If you're a writer then write, if you want a career in PR then... well... probably get used to regular paychecks,a pension plan and health benefits.

Anonymous said...

Am horrible when it comes to reading aloud. Am dyslexic - which makes it difficult at times. In front of people - even worse.