It’s a dirty job…
…but someone’s got to do it. If you’re in Indie author, and the job is promoting your work, then unfortunately that someone is probably you.
In fact, I understand that even if you’re a traditionally published author, then the ball, however distasteful it may be, is still likely to splat into your court, although if the publishers think that it’s likely to be a real money-spinner, then I assume that some help is at hand.
In many ways, asking a writer to leap into the tangled world of spin is as much an anathema to them as it is asking a conservationist to work as a lumberjack. To make a terrible generalisation, writers tend to be introverted people. People who willingly choose to lock themselves away working alone at a manuscript which may take years to complete, let alone edit, are rarely desperate party animals. Many authors I’ve read chatting about this subject admit that the anonymity of most social media is the only thing which makes it possible for them to put themselves into the public eye.
Personally, I would love it if my work was strong enough to be stumbled upon by a few, and crowed about to the extent that I never need tweet about its merits again. There is a certainly a perception out there that the best work will be discovered in this way, and no doubt it occasionally is. After all, Naomi Campbell was window shopping when she was stumbled upon by an agent and became one of the most famous supermodels ever. However, there are not only a great many beautiful women who could sashay around the mall for all their days with hardly a second glance, but also examples like Shades of Grey. Now I must confess that I’ve never read it, but I’ve read a good many reviews which, rightly or wrongly, completely can this novel as poorly written. No-one can deny though the amazing popularity of the work, which has somehow, and fortunately for the author, been caught in that whimsical publicity whirlwind and flown off into the Wonderful World of Oz, also known as The Public Eye.
Part of the issue of course is that there are so many people who have written books which they are trying to promote, especially in these days when you can (although personally I couldn’t) bang out a novel in a month and have it up on Amazon the next day. My blog is subtitled ‘Shouting into the Darkness’ for a good reason, in that this is often how it feels, especially at first. It seems like there are a mass of faceless people in a room, all bellowing out about the merits of their particular book. Someone of them descend to spamming in a desperate attempt to be heard. Personally, I could no more start spamming than eat my cat, the distaste at inflicting myself on people is so great, but I can see why the temptation is there.
Evidence of this is the recent furore about R.J. Ellroy, who has apparently been giving himself great reviews on Amazon, and casting aspersions on his competitor’s work, all anonymously. It is undeniably difficult for an author to get reviews, and so again, I can see why he was tempted to take this step, morally and ethically damnable though it may be. Ellory is of course a well known author already, so perhaps the temptation for all us unknowns is even greater.
The other factor which I think we come up against is time, that vicious mistress. There are many suggestions out there on how to promote your book. Just taking some of the options available on-line, there are many opportunities, such as building a Twitter following, blogging, having author profiles and interviews everywhere you can, having a promotional clip up on You-Tube, being a member of Goodreads, Facebook and Google+ and participating in as many on-line discussions and panels as possible. The rub is that most authors really prefer to write than become salespeople, and finding time to do both, as well as trivial matters like holding down a job so that you can eat occasionally, and spending time with your family, can be tricky. I’ve been reading a little bit recently from some brave writers who are confessing to promotion fatigue.
What it all comes down to in the end I think is a belief in your work, and the desire to have some people read it and get pleasure from it. I have no illusions that I’m going to become the next Asimov, but equally I know that most of the people who have read my work have (at least to my face), told me that they really enjoyed it. After all the years of work, it would be a shame if I was lazy enough to let it moulder away at the bottom of the drawer unread. Perhaps it will inspire someone else to write, and they will become the next Asimov.
On a brighter note, although I have only just started the promotion journey, there have already been some great things to come out of it. I’ve learnt new skills, and discovered new areas of expertise, which I’m now able to apply in my job.
I’ve also been exposed to a great many more opportunities, in the form of competitions, publications and participation in anthologies than I never would have seen while locked up in my room bashing away at my novel, and this has lead to greater productivity on my part. For example, before I started this journey, I hadn’t written a poem since I was about eleven. Now, while I’m no doubt a very amateur poet, I both get great enjoyment from it, and find that it helps my writing in condensing ideas into few words.
Best of all, I’ve met some terrific people while blogging, some of whom I would venture to call friends. Rather a rich haul for a confirmed introvert.
About the Author:
Kasia James just published her first novel The Artemis Effect which is now available on Amazon.
About the Book:
Three comfortable lives are shattered when a wave of inexplicable events exposes the fragility of human society. With an unprecedented celestial phenomenon, devastating high tides, a breakdown in global communication networks, and the sudden appearance of violent ring-gangs swarming through cities and towns, Kimberley, Scott and Bryn struggle to understand the vast events unfolding around them. Will they survive the Artemis Effect? Will they discover the truth behind the collapse of society before it’s too late?
I haven’t read it yet, but I bet it is awesome.
You can also read more of her writing on her blog.