As writers, “everybody” tells us we need to get our names, our books, our presence out there. We need to do all the social media, we need to do author visits, we need to be a presence, be in people’s faces (in an amusing, helpful and non intrusive way, of course).
So everybody climbs on the various bandwagons to promote hell out of . . . what? The experts say you have to promote to be a successful author, but just what are we promoting? And why? And to whom? And in all this promoting, how does our writing fit into our limited time? What’s at the end of all this frantic hand, flag and book waving?
In the course of the next several blog posts I’m going to look at some of this promotion stuff from a couple of different perspectives.
Let’s deal first with what and to whom we’re supposed to be promoting.
Our book, yes. To make sales of said book, yes. To get your name as an author out there, so that, unless you’re a one book wonder (see Harper Lee, To Kill a Mockingbird), you have a fan base for successive books, which will help build your career. That’s easy. Or is it? What’s the long term view here? Where are you going to be in five or ten or fifteen years? Have you thought about that? No? Well, stay tuned because there will be thoughts on that later, but first let’s deal with to whom you are promoting.
As a young adult writer somewhat in tune with the world of kids lit, I wonder how many writers actually know to whom they’re promoting? I keep wondering why I receive so many social media requests from fellow children’s writers. I am not their target audience, especially when it comes to young readers – picture book and chapter book readers. I can help young adult writers perhaps, by connecting them to whatever of my audience might like their books, but even there, I shouldn’t be their main target. I get the feeling with a lot of my fellow writers that their followers are fellow writers. Why aren’t they (or you, for that matter) on teen sites, teen forums and teen places on the net? Why aren’t you engaging your readers directly, instead of me and people like me? If you’re writing picture books and books for younger kids, then why aren’t you on parenting sites, writing for parenting and grandparenting magazines, reviewing young children’s books for those sites, hooking up with parenting groups and grandparenting groups? Why am I still your target? My kids are all grown up and I don’t have any grandkids nearby to read to. Why aren’t both of those groups hooking up with librarian groups and bookstore owners and groups?
If you don’t write for kids, then I suppose I’m one of your potential readers, but y’know? I don’t read romance. I don’t read military fiction, I don’t read much horror and I’m not real big on spy books either. So why are you marketing to me?
If you want to really promote effectively, promote to the people who read what you write. Think about it. If you sub to royalty houses, then you wouldn’t sub a romance to SF, fantasy, mystery and horror publishers, would you? Then why promote to readers in that scattergun, if I shoot enough buckshot, it’s bound to hit something approach? Find the genre or subgenre you write and be active in those groups, both in person and on the net. Which also raises the question of why you aren’t already – don’t you read what you write? And haven’t you been honing your skills for years and years? Years in which you could have been active and by now, well known in those groups? So . . . why are you reading this? Go find your market and get yourself known. But don’t forget to come back and read the rest of this subject!