Tuesday, February 24, 2009

You career is in your hands

If I'm remembering my design classes correctly, people don't want a lot of words on a poster. They want the relevant information big and bold enough to get their attention. Posters aren't things we stand and admire—unless they're really amazing. Most of the time a poster gets a glance. A fraction of a second to get and hold your attention long enough to make you read what it says.

That being said, this one probably has too many words. But it does have color!

One of the common misconceptions is that people believe their publisher will craft promotional items for them. No. With the financial climate as it is, more and more of the promotion of a novel is going to fall solely on its author. Why? Because no one will ever care about your book being successful as much as you do.

Not your publisher.

Not your editor.

Not your agent.

Not your significant other, should be fortunate enough to have one to support you on this journey.

Not your friends.

Sounds bleak? No. Just disproportionate. As much as those other professionals have invested in your success and those individuals love and support you, their worlds revolve around other things. If that weren't the truth, then you'd notice a dramatic different in the greater world after you signed. Sold. Turned in revisions. Had your release.

For most of us, that won't be the case. Maybe after the second book or the third or when you hit the bestseller lists. Or if you're a breakout runaway mad success like JK Rowling and Stephanie Meyer.

Let's say you aren't. I know, it's a scary thought. Go to the dark woods with me for a thought exercise. I promise, I'll give you a lollipop when we're finished. If you aren't eaten by something nasty before then, of course.

Let's say you weren't in their percentage of authors who got your publisher's ad bucks. Or they did some promotion, but it was very targeted. How do you get word out to the general public? Well, blog tours work. But the internet attention-span is hourly. Once that tour is over, the buzz is gone. The further away you get from the release date, the harder it is to get attention from other sites and blogs. Simply because there are other releases that are the new news.

So what do you do after the 15 minutes are up?

The benefit of living in a small town, especially if you happen to work with people who are supportive, is that things are bigger deals than when you live in an anonymous city. The success of one person becomes the success of the community.

Many of us live in cities. We believe that the city will provide and the city is necessary for fame. Because the city has the larger populace and generate the bigger sales numbers. There might be something to that theory.

I think a lot of people under-estimate the power of person-to-person promotion. I'm not talking social networking, which definitely can help you remain relevant. Or newsletters. Or really even discussion boards and blog groups. I mean unwired promotion. Interfacing at the basic responsive human to human level. Signings. Readings. Conventions. Finding people who you're news again because you're new to them.

Make it personal. Make a connection. Someone will buy your book if they like you. It won't make them like the book any more or less than they would have, but it can make them give a book they wouldn't have picked up a read.

I'm not downplaying the importance of being able to communicate online. Or how it will only become more important as the publishing industry goes fully digital. (Sad day when we kiss goodbye the feel of paper against our fingertips and the weight of a book in our hands.) For now, there's still a need to have social skills. No, there's even more of a need. Because whether you like it or not, books are products and how well you as an author can be sold and marketed is part of industry.

So play nice. Make friends. Let's do our best.


Leigh said...

I could not have said it better myself. You are absolutely right, C, about all of this and sad as it may be (since we all wish to be on those "author tours" and travel to different cities to sign our books for the many adoring fans), we do have to understand that WE are the only ones who care as much as we do about our books.

Chandra Rooney said...

I think it is easy to be sad about it--we've certainly discussed that. But if we can look at it as empowering, it's not doom and gloom. People will help us, if we ask. They key here is to learn we need to do the asking--not wait to be asked.