… and now I’m supposed to promote it. That would not be problem at all for someone who knows a thing or two about marketing, or who is bursting with the confidence that they’ve written a timeless classic/bestseller. Unfortunately, I’m neither.
From what I’ve seen on social media where I mingle with other writers, most are highly insecure, highly vulnerable individuals who constantly doubt the value of their work. Excluding those who thrive on the sheer drama of self-doubt and vulnerability (me, occasionally), this is probably the typical writer personality for a number of reasons, chief among them the fact that writing, like any other form of art, is an expression of deeply personal feelings and beliefs, a tentative reaching out to strangers in the hope they share these.
Now imagine such an individual tasked with the job to become the exact opposite of what they are because this is what marketing is about: confidence, the absence of any doubt at all that the product you are marketing is anything short of perfect. Did you wince at the word product being used for a book? Yeah, me too, but in this day and age more than in any other works of art are products in the way everything else that has a price is a product. They can still be works of art as are the albums of Muse, say, or The Black Angels, but they are also products that need to be marketed.
Accepting this truth was hard because of my perspective: Here I am, I wrote this book, rewrote it a couple of times, revised it, edited it, queried, got rejected, finally got accepted and now I have to do more? Of course, I knew about the marketing aspect of the whole publishing affair in advance but that was more theoretical rather than a dark marketing cloud hanging over my head sending occasional thunders my way. To date, I shudder at the mere mention of the word marketing.
Yet the truth that was even harder to accept than the idea of art being also a product was this: Nobody will read your book unless they know more about it and about you. Yes, it makes perfect sense, especially with the millions of books that are coming out every day. You can’t just throw a title out there and hope everyone will instantly love the book. You have to give people a reason to do it… and I’ve got nothing.
Okay, it’s not nothing. I really like my book. I can relate to the characters, which is hardly a surprise since I thought them up. In a sense, they are all me (and that’s only a little scary). I don’t know how original my story is but I haven’t read a book that has the same story as mine. As for themes, the best ones are almost universal and as such relatable for most people. If there’s anything more universal than the human need for love I haven’t heard of it. For some reason I always end up writing about love. I’m not sentimental, I’ve never read Wuthering Heights (long story involving a black hole), but everything I write turns out to be about love, even the horror stories.
A Google search along the lines of “How to market your book” returns results involving “your social media audience”, “a launch team” and book reviewers, as well as recommendations to send emails to abovementioned audience. I usually get scared right about the place where audience is mentioned for the first time.
I don’t think of myself as someone who already has an audience. I’m online to build it by blogging and tweeting stuff I find funny or interesting and assume I won’t be the only one to find it funny or interesting. I’m too embarrassed to post links to my book to various Facebook groups that allow self-promotion. I’m too embarrassed to reach out to book reviewers personally to aid the publisher’s marketing efforts because it was clear from the start I couldn’t just sit and wait while they do all everything. In short, I get easily embarrassed and this is bad.
Fortunately, there is a cure and it is the same one I’ve used for other problems of this sort: a change of perspective. A friend told me the other day I shouldn’t see my promotion efforts as an intrusion on people’s Facebook feeds or time but as me sharing my work with the world because that’s what you’re supposed to do. Now, this is the perspective I need to adopt. I understand it rationally but, for good or bad, the mind’s not a hundred percent rational. Which is why I’m blogging about it. Reaching out, so to speak, to that mythical audience that’s actually people who like reading and writing, just like me. Who else could be a better shoulder to whine on?
Thanks for listening and have a book soundtrack. These are either songs I listened to while I worked on The Lamiastriga or songs telling stories that fit perfectly with my story. Yes, of course, I’m imagining it adapted for the screen. Yes, of course, I’ve already lined up the cast. Now I’m off to research book reviewers. The work never ends, apparently. I wish there was a warning somewhere…