In the overall flurry of promotion, most people talk only about the strategies and approaches you can use to get your name and book out there. But there’s more to promotion than just tailoring the various strategies to your personality and your abilities and comfort levels or blanketing the internet ether and real world with your name, face and books.
If all you’re doing is following the advice of experts, without thinking about who you are, what you want to accomplish with promotion and how long it’s going to take you to reach your promotion goals, then you’re not doing yourself any favours, and you may even be doing yourself harm. In all the frenzy of getting your name and your books out there, have you ever thought about WHY you’re promoting? Yeah, to get your books and name out there. But so what? What’s the point? Where are you going to be next year? In five years? In ten? What are your long term goals for your both your writing and your promotion?
You need to know what and why you write in order to effectively promote you and your work. Do you know why you write, and what you want your writing career to accomplish? Yes, you want to be successful, like all the experts say. But what do they mean by success? What do you think of when you think about being a successful writer? Why are you writing in the first place?
There isn’t a right answer to these questions by the way. You can write for the ages, so you’ll be known three or four generations from now, so your books will make your great-great-great grandrelatives rich. Are you writing because you have things to say and need to say them? Are you writing because you want to be as rich and famous as today’s big name writers? Any or all of those are legitimate and valid reasons to write. (Oh, and “because God made me a writer” isn’t a good answer for this. He might well have, but that still doesn’t absolve you from the responsibility of knowing why He did that, and doing your best to develop and use the talents he gave you, including the talents that you use for promotion. Remember Matthew 25: 14-30. It’s the parable of the talents and is as applicable to creative talent as it is to money.)
If you don’t know why you’re writing, what you want from your writing career, or how long it may take you to get there, then you aren’t going to be able to do your marketing and promotion in a way that will help you accomplish your writing goals.
Answer the questions above and the following ones, then figure out what promotional approaches will work to best help you get to where you want to be: What is success to you? What do you mean when you say you want to be a successful writer? Why do you want to write? Do I want overnight success (however you define that word) or is this going to be slower, more gradual climb? Who is my audience, and at what point will I feel as though I’ve succeeded in promoting the kind of writer I want to be known as?
If you know your long term goals, there’s an added benefit in knowing that you aren’t going to have overnight success. You are working toward something that is in the future, and you can assess your ongoing success by how close you are to your ultimate goal. That will help you survive setbacks, slow movement, slack times when everybody’s attention is taken up by the next new thing.
Promotion for promotion’s sake might pay off in Andy Warhol’s 15 minutes of fame, but as a writer, unless you’re a one book wonder, that’s not going to be enough. By paying very close attention to the marketing strategies out there, how they will work for you, which ones you can use and adapt that fit your personality and comfort levels, and by looking at the long term, you’re in a much better position to achieve whatever success you want with the tools available to you.