Monday, March 03, 2008

Author to Author Advice

I decided it was time to update the content of my Book Promotion 101 workshop with fresh information and advice from those in the know. So this afternoon I sent out a publicity questionnaire to the scores of authors I've met and/or corresponded with over the past few years. Responses are flooding in, with many lengthy--and trenchant--comments.

The last question I asked was:
Any tips you'd like to pass along to other authors?

Here are some of the terrific answers I've received:
  1. Know the difference between talking about yourself and talking about your work.

  2. Don't go around antagonizing people. Would you rather be right or shafted?

  3. Keep trying, it's never too late.

  4. Don’t be shy. If you’re not sure what you can do or afford, gang up with other authors in your genre and work group promo. And follow Bella’s advice and blog. [I didn't pay the author to write this--honest!]

  5. Try lots of things and drop the ones that don't work. Have fun.

  6. Bella suggested reading a book, Naked at the Podium. A terrific book and very helpful for readings, the preparation. In terms of appearances, my suggestion is to know how much time you have, and to practice what you are going to read, time it, also practice the introduction (though when you do the actual intro, make it sound conversational). Realize in an appearance that you need to entertain the audience, to read slowly, dramatically.

    Be sure to thank audiences and people who've helped arrange an appearance. After a reading, when audience members ask questions, repeat the question before you answer it. For a radio interview, speak slowly.

    Before any appearance, know how you will describe your book, know the answers to some questions audience members or interviewers are likely to ask. Be prepared. And always bring books, post cards, business cards. Also, talk to friends who are authors and get advice from them. I found people were very generous and helpful, suggested I contact their friends at community centers or Arts clubs or writing centers or book stores. This yielded readings and new audiences for the book.

    I must say, as I fill out this survey, I realize how much work promotion is. The writing seems easy compared to it! The promoting is really a business.

  7. If you can find a national organization that you can work through to help you do speaking events because your book is relevant to their interests, that is very helpful.

  8. Keep your humor intact and be ready to punt. I did a school visit I had all planned out and then when I got there, found out the school was for "different" kids --Aspergers, ADHD, OCD, you name it. I totally had to punt, but honestly had the most fun. Those were some, um, spontaneous kids.

  9. While many writers consider book signings a waste of time (such as at B&N and other bookstores), I do not because the CRM always gets in piles of my books. Even if very few people show up, I act as though I don't mind, and my very gracious thank you to the manager makes her keep inviting me back time and time again.

  10. Follow every lead, every idea. Network. Ask friends to connect you with their friends. My best friend's sister-in-law set up 3 events in western Colorado and gave me her guest room. Ask and you shall receive--some of the time, anyway. Get some fun promotional items you can give as hostess gifts: T-shirts, mugs, etc. These also make good door prizes at casual events.

    Do not calculate how many books you will have to sell to make it worth your while. You'll miss a lot of gigs that way. Also keep email and mailing lists as a leg up for the next book. Something I learned late: Check out for writers' groups and book clubs, and contact them offering to visit. I got two gigs, and several great online articles and interviews from this. Got connected with a great web site: WOW! Women on Writing.

  11. Experience is a much better teacher than I. Having fun is important, because you'll never have another first publishing experience. Don't sweat it too much. You'll screw up no matter what, so work your ass off, control what you can, and hope for the best.

    Also, keep writing during the process. You are an author first. No writing=no product=no need for publicity. Spending all your time working as a publicist takes valuable time away from your job.

  12. There's always someone doing better than you, and always someone doing worse, yet how does that affect your day-to-day writing life? I'm not sure it should--though of course I too wish I had a beach house from my earnings--but I try not to go around comparing myself. Leave that to the social climbers and the Amazon ratings watchers. I don't see how any of that speaks, as the Quakers say, to my condition.

    Just care about what you're doing and writing, and keep caring. Care to the point of indifference to the world's reaction to your work. The world is unfair, and at some level it's beyond your control whether people appreciate what you're doing or not.

1 comment:

Carleen Brice said...

All this is excellent advice! And because I'm busy following a lot of it (writing to meet a deadline and promoting) I didn't have time to answer your survey. Glad others made the time to do so!