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Friday, January 25, 2008

Book Promotion: Necessary Evil

I came upon a blog a couple of weeks ago where the blogger condemned the authors who were currently promoting their novels with contests, blog posts and reviews.

At first, I could sympathize with this blogger who felt overwhelmed when faced with peers who were constantly bombarding her with requests to vote for them on this contest or that one. The blogger groused that authors worked harder at promoting their novels than writing them.

Uhh…yeah. That's kinda the way of things. Few novelists have the luxury of a publisher who will put out the big bucks to advertise for them. That might have been the case back in the 80s, but today you are pretty much on your own, so you have to rely on your network to get the word out.

Maybe this blogger really felt put upon. But my guess, after I did a little research on her, is that she doesn't yet understand an author's obligations. The only publication credits I could find for her were in a couple of small magazine markets, so it's possible she has no clue what is expected of her should her book ever reach publication.

It's an overwhelming responsibility. And it's almost impossible to understand the gravity of it until you yourself have a book in the pot.

A lot of writers think that once they get a book published their worries will be over. Honey, they're just starting. Not only are you expected to market your book, you need to have another one baking in the oven, while continuing to mingle among your brethren so that you can keep up with the latest publishing news.

It's a LOT of work!

I know. I do it every day.

What I think is sad about this blogger is that she was castigating the efforts of her peers, the same people she will need to rely on when (and if) her book gets published. If someone disparages you, how anxious will you be to help that person when she has her hand out?

Instead of feeling contempt, she needs to foster compassion. Sure, some authors go overboard with their spiels and requests, but the majority of novelists are just trying to get the word out. No one is twisting your arm to buy anything.

And if their messages bother you that much, all you have to do is hit: Delete.

But consider that the single most important thing you can do to support your peers is to pass information to the public at large. For example, JA Konrath doesn't know me from Adam, but I've always appreciated his great tips and common sense advice. I would consider it a privilege to introduce new readers to his blog and books.

I mention Maya Reynolds all the time. Yes, she's a good friend and I would do anything for her, but she's also a great blogger and novelist. And if you're looking for erotic romance, I'm going to recommend her book, BAD GIRL.

My crit partner, Dawtheminstrel has a very friendly blog where she discusses all sort of topics. She doesn't have a book to promote yet, but she will. That's how much I believe in her work. So I recommend her blog to people who visit here.

We are a community. Let's treat each other like neighbors rather than pariahs.

This is why I interview people for the newsletters I edit. This is why I scan more than 200 blog posts a day. This is why I link to people on this blog. I want to promote them. I don't care if they have twenty books under their belts or no publishing credits at all. I want them to know that I am an ally and a peer who understands what they're up against.

I link to both published authors and the still unpublished. I make no distinctions between them as long as they have a message I think is valuable to my readers.

And there's value to linking. I didn't know this until very recently, but the more you link, (that is, key in the author's name with a link to his blog/website), the better their ranking becomes on a search engine. With that in mind, you'll probably be seeing more links on this blog.

The purpose of this blog is to share information. Even if I never sell another book, the principle will remain the same. As my blog's mission statement says: What is knowledge worth unless it is shared?

If it makes you angry to see someone talk about his book, find a different line of work because I guarantee you, you will be facing the very same obstacles when it's your turn.

People aren't being obnoxious. They're trying to make a living.


Joan Mora said...

Great post, Maria. It reminded me of a comment Simon Cowell said on Jay Leno the other night. He honestly doesn't feel joy at a friend or colleague's accomplishments. In fact, it depresses him. How sad.
I'm thrilled when one of my critique partners or writer friends wins a contest, finds an agent or sells a book. And I'm pretty sure they'll feel the same when it's my turn.

What a world, what a world.

Maria Zannini said...

>>It reminded me of a comment Simon Cowell said on Jay Leno the other night. He honestly doesn't feel joy at a friend or colleague's accomplishments.

Oh, wow! That is sad. For me, I get pumped when my friends and peers get a big sale, agent, or contest win. It makes me proud to know them and puts a fire in my belly to join them.

Jaye Wells said...

I think there's an art to finding the balance between being a book pimp that annoys people and a savvy promoter. Good post.

Maria Zannini said...

Balance is the key word. I expect people to promote their books, but I'd like to hear more than a perpetual sales pitch.

Anonymous said...

At Viable Paradise, one of the teachers said we SFF writers were not in competition with one another. If someone wrote a good book, they probably expanded the reading audience for our genre. Good books beget readers who in turn beget books. We should cheer one another on.


Maria Zannini said...

I agree. Look what Rowling accomplished. We have a whole generation of kids --not to mention adults, clamoring for her books (and others like it).

Fantasy really got a boost from her. The more we can encourage a reading public, the better it is for all of us.

rcloenen-ruiz said...

Oh yes, I agree about cheering for other authors. I haven't cheered as much as I wanted to in the past year, but I do intend to do better on that this year. I find it hard to understand how writers can be so catty about another writer's success.

Maria Zannini said...

I think cattiness comes from insecurity. It's a passive-aggressive behavior that is just as prevelant on the playground as it is in professional circles.