Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Publicity, Schlubmicity

Say that five times fast. Ha!

Okay, so today I'm going to discuss publicity a little bit from an author's point of view. I hope what I say makes sense.

First, I believe publicity is important. I blogged about this recently, but the fact is that books are treated differently as far as publicity money from your publishing house goes. So what's an author to do?

Their own publicity.

If you didn't know this, let me tell you: Authors must do some of their own promotion. Now, I can't tell you what to do or how to do it, I just believe that authors cannot ignore the business side of writing. And the truth is, if you want to keep writing, you have to sell books.

The trickiest part of doing your own publicity is expanding beyond your borders. I still haven't quite figured out how to do that, but joining the Campaign has helped. I'm meeting new bloggers I've never met before. Reading their blogs helps me make connections.

But second, publicity should not overshadow what writers do. And writers write.

So as an author with a book out there in the big, bad world, I'm treading a delicate line with writing on one side, and publicity on the other.

Today, I'm going to give a few tips on what you can do for authors. (On Friday, I'll give you some tips for doing publicity in a few minutes each day.) These are things I'm honored people take the time to do for me and my book.

1. Blog about the book. If you loved the book (or even if you didn't!) blog about it. Books are discussion items, meaning the more they're talked about, the more popular they become. If you read, say, POSSESSION, and liked it, tell your friends!

You can do this in person, or on twitter, or your blog. I'm always shocked when I see someone has blogged about my book. And shocked in a good way, because they've taken their time to A) read my book and B) tell someone about it.

2. Write a review. There are a plethora of opportunities to do this. And don't be afraid to leave a less than stellar review. Books will always have bad reviews, because it's such a creative arena. EVERY review is good publicity for the author.

3. Be a "ground team player." This sounds weird, I know, and it sort of goes with #1. But talk to people who can make a difference: librarians, teachers, booksellers. Tell them about the books you like, and would like to see them read/stock.

In my attempt to support other authors, I talk a lot about books here on my blog (Bookanista posts every Thursday!). I buy a lot of books. I give them away. I try to attend as many author events as I can. I'll admit that I'm terrible at leaving reviews... I need to work on that.


And now to the fun part! As part of Random Acts of Publicity week, I'm giving away books! Today's prize is an ARC of THE UNBECOMING OF MARA DYER by Michelle Hodkin. This book comes out on September 27, and it's a fantastic addition to the YA paranormal romance genre.

In order to enter to win this ARC, you must BLLuRT (Blog, Link, Like, Review, Talk) for one of your favorite books! You can do that anytime before September 11, and you must fill out THIS FORM by September 12.

BLLuRT's for Michelle and her book:


What do you think about publicity? No matter what stage you're in right now, have you thought about what publicity efforts you'll do for your books?

50 comments:

Miranda Hardy said...

You nailed it. Publicity is necessary, but the time it takes you to market your book, the less time you have to write the next one. And, since I know many authors also work the dreaded day job, marketing is more the chore no one wants to put the time into.

magolla said...

Publicity is difficult no matter where you are in your writing career. Stella Cameron was complaining about it on FB just last week. And it is more difficult if you are in the wrong genre circles.

When I started writing, I was writing romance, so all my contacts/support are within that world. But when I started writing middle grade, I was cast adrift. Literally. I lost most of my local support group, got kicked out of my romance group, and even regular on-line writing friends (many of them write romance) because 'I don't know what goes in a middle grade story.'

--Look, people, a good book is a good book. Yes, it has different goals and character growth, but it has a plot, characterization, dialogue, etc. and any writer worth their salt can crit any style of book with a minimum of effort.

And since I was new to SCBWI, but not new to writing, I didn't have very many connection in the SCBWI world and felt horrible asking for help.

After numerous R's, I shelved my Goblin's Apprentice series. BUT it kept eating at me, so I decided to self-pub it--which is another kiss of death. I have given away hundreds of copies for reviews only to receive a handful on Amazon--they were all excellent reviews, many from my target audience--but I can't generate enough interest to effect my numbers.

I currently have 4 books available and plan to publish the last two in the GA series that are written by the end of the year.

If I don't sell any, well, at least they are available when parents get technosavvy enough to figure out how to download the product to their computers or ereaders.

Right now, all I'd like to do is pay off my cover artist, since my covers are kick-ass. Is that too much to ask?

M. A. Golla

Richard said...

I've thought about it a lot. I'm very unimaginative about it and fear I will do next to nothing to promote my books once they're published. I've self-pubbed a book of short stories as a learning experience in how to self-publish a book, but I've done next to zero self-promotion. I hope to have my first novel self-pubbed by the end of the year or very early next year. I'm afraid I'll do next to no self-promotion. It just doesn't seem like something I can do.

Natalie Aguirre said...

You're right about the publicity. I actually think you've done a good job publicizing your book. I don't know how you did it all while working and taking care of your family and organizing WriteOnCon.

I'm nervous about whether I can handle it all but tell myself I already handle a lot.

For now, I'm trying to promote a lot of authors, especially debut and middle grade, on my blog and give away a lot of their books. I agree that we all need to help each other.

Stina Lindenblatt said...

I used to blog about books I enjoyed, but I don't do that anymore. Mostly because I'm afraid someone will read the book, not like it, and be mad at me for gushing about it so much.

I do rate books on Goodreads, and that's linked to Twitter, so you can find out about the books I liked through that.

Of course if I blogged everyday, and needed something to talk about, then I would talk more about books. Maybe I'll have to figure something out so I can get the word out about the great books I've read. Hmmm.

Maria Zannini said...

Publicity is a necessary evil--not evil in itself. Good publicity is actually a service to readers.

It's the fact that it takes time from writing that makes it a beast.

As long as the promo doesn't start looking like spam, I'm happy, but I still need a clone to do all the work while I go back to my writing cave.

Donna K. Weaver said...

Good stuff here once again, Elana. The publicity part is hard. As much as I love all the connecting with the networking, it sure takes a long time. *sigh*

Laura Pauling said...

I've def. thought about it and my opinions will probably change after I've tried to promote my own work. I love sharing with my readers books I've read and loved. And I enjoy showing what I learned as a writer from them.

Right now, I think social media gets the ball rolling but true word of mouth is the only thing that brings in the big sales. (I'm sure winning awards, getting on certain lists... helps too.)

There must be a way to do promotion without driving yourself into the ground.

Read my books; lose ten pounds! said...

If you neglect your children youll have plenty of time to do everything!
Muwhahahaha.

Tiffany Garner said...

A lot of great thoughts here, and some really good advice. Personally, I think the most important part of publicity is supporting others, because then they'll want to support you. And something people need to remember is that building a following takes a while--so start now, before you're trying to sell hardcovers to the masses! That's my plan, anyway :)

Lindsay N. Currie said...

Great post! I think publicizing yourself feels awkward at first, but once an author finds a nice balance between promoting themselves and supporting other authors and their releases, it becomes much more natural and appealing. Lovely thoughts!

Susan Kaye Quinn said...

Publicity is such a tricky wicket, but the key I think is to have fun. And I love the idea of being a "ground team player"!

Leigh Ann said...

Oooh, I'm so glad you wrote what you did about less-than-stellar reviews. I'm currently dealing with the agony of absolutely HATING a book that was highly recommended in the blogosphere, and by all accounts I should have loved. I would give it two stars, maybe three. Still not sure if I'm going to leave a review. Don't want to seem like a troll, esp. since I know other people loved it.

I'm actually not afraid of self-promotion - I work for a nonprofit, so I'm kind of used to it, since it's sink or swim in that vein - but I do realize that it's HARD for books. If I ever, ever EVER get an agent, and that agent thinks she can sell one of my books - then I'll think about it. :)

P.S. I totally wrote a gusher of a post about POSSESSION/you. Here it is, Elana's fans....
http://www.leighannkopans.com/2011/08/author-crush-elana-johnson.html

Matthew MacNish said...

I think the hardest part is finding a balance between not talking about it, and talking about it too much.

If all an author ever talks about (whether by blogging, tweeting, or Facebooking/+ing) is their book, I'm going to get bored quick.

You've got to keep things interesting, and full of variety.

Wendy Paine Miller said...

I thrive on talking about books. It's serious food for me.

I had the funniest convo with my husband the other day about the promoting I'll have to do for my book someday. He seemed shocked. It was hysterical. Baby steps. I'll have to take it slow with him. I've been researching this for years. His eyes are opening slowly to it all. :D
~ Wendy

Karen Amanda Hooper said...

I did try to say it 5 times fast, and I failed miserably.

I'm so scared of the publicity part. I'm kind of an introvert. That's why I write. And I hate feeling pushy, so umm, yeah. Not sure how well I'll do at promoting myself or my book.

Can't wait to read MARA! :)

Gretchen said...

I think that's always been on my mind. You hear things hanging around on twitter or blogosphere about publicity and the difference in dollar amounts one book can get over another. I think I'll definitely keep blogging (though it may get some cosmetic changes)and tweeting. In the physical world, I thought about talking to local libraries or indie bookstores that I know. (It's totally weird to think about this while I'm in the middle of the first draft, but I guess it's never to early)

Mina Burrows said...

Great post & I love random acts of publicity. Publicity is paramount, but I also agree w/ Matt that it's a fine line. All the more reason to hone those ninja skills, I suppose. :)

dawn-metcalf said...

As you know, I'm all about the publicity. But now having lived past the launch period, I can say that this needs to be balanced with actual WRITING (as in the next book, not texts, emails, tweets, blog posts, updates, or collecting 10,000 emails ;-) !!)

That said, I have tweeted and added this book to my GR to-be-read list so I have done some random acts of publicity kindness. Thanks for the post & GO YOU!

Carolyn V said...

Yeah, the publicity thing scares me too, but I think it is well worth it to get your book out there and selling.

Kelley said...

Publicity is such a necessary part of the writing process, but it can feel awkward at times. Sigh. But other times, it can be way fun :)

Great contest! You're sweet to have it!

Stephanie McGee said...

Mostly the only thing I've thought of when it comes to publicity is the swag I'd give away. When I started querying a book, I started thinking about if there was anything in there that I could commission be made. There might have been. I'm thinking about it with my current book and there's stuff, but it's all pretty generic right now, nothing specific.

I know I'll have a launch party of some sort and try to do signings at local bookstores, wherever local ends up being for me at the time. (This is all still a pipe dream a couple years off, let's be honest.)

I'm uncomfortable talking about myself most times so publicity is a hard thing for me. But it's always sitting there in the back of my mind.

Emily said...

Great post. This is something that I never think about. But, you're right. Writers have to be business savvy too. Thanks again for an important topic.

Stacy Henrie said...

Great points, Elana! I like your reminder that it can't be all of one (all publicity and no writing, or all writing and no publicity). You gotta do both.

Shannon O'Donnell said...

Great, great post, Elana. I think your suggestions are right on the money. Over the past year, I have made it a goal to write more reviews on Goodreads and Amazon. I have written almost 75 of them. The more I do it, the more natural a habit it becomes.

I'm DYING to read this book. :-)

Abby said...

This is great. I get to order your book this weekend. I can't wait. And you can bet I will put a review on my blog, because I'm sure the book is awesome! I think we, as writers, love to help spread the word when another writer gets a book out there. I love all the helpful advice on your blog!

Heather said...

Very well said! Publicity is a tough game. We have to do it because publishers are expecting us to do more and more, but we also have to write. It's such a tough balance, but one we must figure out.

Charlotte said...

Interesting post- definitely good ideas and something to think about. I'm perfectly happy to help out other writers, though I'm not sure a bad review always helps an author. A well written bad review versus a badly written good review will nearly always prevent me from buying a book.
The whole reason I started a blog was to network and to try and help myself publicity-wise, because I've heard that all writers should blog. That in itself was a huge step for me. I'm very shy, so the idea of sharing something of myself, even just in a blog that talks about reading and writing, sounded way too scary! The reason I gave in in the end was because it looked like so much fun, and thankfully it is. But I couldn't sleep the entire first night that I let my blog loose on the world! As well as this, for years I was adamant that if I ever got published I would use a fake name, but now I'm not so sure. If I want my book to get the best chance of being read, (again, IF, i'm ever published) I know I'll have to do things such as interviews and book signings and put myself out there. This makes me feel really vulnerable, but I'm starting to realise just how important publicity is for an author and that it's something you have to do.
Anyway, sorry I've rambled on for so long!

Marsha Sigman said...

I'm kickin aroung a few ideas. Streaking during a Texans game with a sign proclaiming the title of my book seems like it might work.

But the longer it takes to be published...the uglier that scenario is going to get.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Publicity does take a big chunk out of the writing. I'm trying to be creative and find ways to do it without me being the one doing it. (And because I don't like doing it.)

L.G.Smith said...

It's really tough to find a balance between all the social networking stuff, writing, and, uh, that thing called life. Writers need to be exempted from the 24 hour day. With our imaginations we ought to be able to come up with a way to warp time and squeeze out a few more hours somehow. :PP

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Hey Elana! The Insecure Writer's Support Group posts the first Wednesday of every month, so feel free to join us in October. I have the full description of the group's purpose and sign-up listed on a separate page - look for the tab under my header.

Janet Johnson said...

I love the idea of random acts of publicity. :) Very cool! I need to be better at that. And reviews? Uh yeah, let's just say I haven't even signed up for Goodreads.

Amber Argyle, author said...

I don't know Elana. As an author, I think you're shooting yourself in the foot if you give out bad reviews to fellow authors . . .

Christine Fonseca said...

I love this post - and yes, supporting other authors and literacy in general is one of the best ways to get the market open for more books, etc...
IMHO

Jessie Humphries said...

Everything that I've learned about shlubicity I've learned from you! :)

REINHARDT! said...

I think that part of the issue, at least for me, is that the world of publicity and PR is scary for most writers, who tend to be introverted. People actually go to college just to study how it works. Making writers do a job they most likely are not qualified for doesn't make a lot of sense. But because of economic and manpower concerns, that's the case.

As a writer contemplating next steps after completing a book manuscript, I'm pretty daunted. But that'll have to pass, as Elana is totally right. We're all in this together, and through efforts like the ones in this post, writers don't have to feel like they're doing it totally alone.

Thanks for the wonderful post!

Jess said...

Thanks for the great advice! And it's been so nice meeting you through the campaign! Thanks for following my blog :)

June G said...

Blessed is the author whose book is their publisher's "BIG" book otherwise, she shall be scrambling to get traction and put the word out *sigh*.

Sad to say, but all too true...

Mary Gray said...

I love the acronym, BLLuRT. I will remember this! And I filled out your form. This was perfect timing, because I had just BLLuRTed about Rosemary Clement Moore's TEXAS GOTHIC. Amazing!!

And I agree with the others. You do incredible publicity for your book through allll of your hard work via social media. You're everywhere, Elana!

Ishta Mercurio said...

This is something that I dread. Not because I don't think I should have to do it, but because I worry that I'll be bad at it. I am the person who doesn't tell people when my birthday is or throw myself a birthday party for fear that no-one will come.

BUT, I recently attended a workshop given by Fran Cannon Slayton (author of WHEN THE WHISTLE BLOWS, and super-nice lady) on marketing your own book, and it. was. AMAZING. Really, really good, practical, hands-on, nitty-gritty advice. I HIGHLY recommend going to see her if you can. Just find out where she is going to be and go there.

Liesl Shurtliff said...

Oh, this is something I think about A LOT! I think it's going to be a struggle to balance the writing side vs. the business side. But it must be accomplished somehow.

J.R. Johansson said...

Great post, Elana! My background is in marketing, so I feel a little better prepared than many writers, but even I feel overwhelmed at the prospect of publicity. Just hope I can get it all figured out at some point. :) It's a process, right?

Danyelle L. said...

You are made of awesome, Elana. :) I'm working on publicity, but definitely not allowing it to overshadow the actual writing part of being a writer. :D

Theresa Milstein said...

Thanks for the advice. This is something every author must do, even if they don't like it.

Are you doing much with school visits or is most of your publicity blog-based?

Since I only have short stories coming out, I do modest publicity: Goodreads posts, Facebook, and blog. I tried not to post too much about it last time. For my next short story, coming out 10/11, I may ask a couple of friends to interview me so it gets some interest.

The campaign is a great way to gain followers. I'm at 624 now.

My Life With Books - Jennifer K Jovus said...

Thank you for writing this great post Elana. It was very educational.

I blog about books and books I love. I feel like the only way I can really do anything for an author is to help promote the books I enjoy and mostly promote local events here in Utah. Maybe the more support authors get while in Utah on tour, the more will come here.

I have recently been ask to participate in several blog tours for upcoming books. As an author, what do you like to happen with the blog tours? Do you look forward to something specific about the tours?

Thanks for your help!
Jennifer

Claire Dawn said...

As you know, I'm always promoting and giving away books on my blog. Actually, last year, I read an excerpt from THE DUFF at a writer's conference, and this year one of the writers that heard it used one of Kody's short stories as an example in a workshop. I was so proud of having turned someone onto an author!

ali cross said...

This is great Elana. I do think a lot about publicity - both for others and myself. I look forward to learning from you!!

Jolene Perry said...

I have two books on sub, and one that comes out from CFI (where I'm in charge of my own publicity)
Overwhelming and difficult.
BUT - I've already met LOTS of fun people doing it.

Shooting Stars Mag said...

I always try and publicize the books I love. If I ever publish my own book, I know it will be harder though. I'm bad at talking about myself...but I do have the ideas, so I guess that helps.

For now though, I'm actually a freelance publicist for authors and small businesses so they CAN do their job and still get some promo out there, and in different ways. You can find me here: www.laurenashleybecker.com

-Lauren

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