And the gods of publishing spoke.
The earth rumbled and the lightening struck. All the peoples of the writing land quivered with fear and aw. And the gods said …
“Stand all ye writers and be counted! I say unto thee one and all, those of the laptop and those of the desktop, those sparrows of the tiny Twitter and lurkers of the massive writers conferences, teachers and students of the word and mid-list authors everywhere I say unto you all … PROMOTE THYSELF!”
And when the word comes down what do we all do? We panic, we pull out our hair and tear our clothes and we whine. There’s nothing like a good whine, I always say. But soon enough, we’ve all had enough whine.
Like a garden of beautiful blossoms, fantastic advice has popped up everywhere to guide us. Magnificent, excellent advice. It abounds and the sea is swollen with suggestions for website designs, blogging opportunities, platform planks (and the nails to hold it all together). What non-fiction writers and self-published authors have known all along is suddenly the law of reality for all.
But, try real hard not to get lost in the raging pulse of great advice. Don’t drown. Take it little bits at a time; there are a million ways to cook a chicken. The key to a perfectly roasted bird is the same as the path to a perfectly executed promotional plan … patience, clarity, understanding the tools and using them well. Winging it just won’t work.
Don’t go off half-cocked (oh, another poultry pun) and blanket the world with unfocused press releases or emails to spam your (soon to be no longer) friends to death. Don’t sweat over seeking ill-defined speaking engagements or stapling posters on every telephone phone pole in sight. Your face with the scrawled words, “Have you seen this writer? He/She is starving! Please buy his/her book!” won’t actually do it.
Do it carefully and unfortunately, in order to do it at all, you must first (yes, here it comes) … KNOW THYSELF … and (uh-huh) TO THINE OWN SELF BE TRUE.
Know yourself, know your skills, know your abilities and know your limitations. If you don’t have the time or energy to run all over asking if you can sign books at all the tri-state B&N locations, think about hiring an assistant to help make all the arrangements. If you can’t figure out how to reach every newspaper in the northeast, hire a company that does the press release flight for you. If you can’t figure out where to start, hire a publicist. If you can’t afford a publicist, there are a hundred books, classes, clubs and organizations to show you how to proceed. Being a writer is a business, and few businesses are successful just because they opened their doors.
If you’re not published yet, make your presence known. Who knows, the gods of publishing may reach down and touch you. Then where will you be? Unprepared, that’s where. Put together your business plan right now. Outline what makes you … the author … as valuable a product as the wonderful book you’ve written.
TO THINE OWN SELF BE TRUE
Now, I need to go baste the chicken.