writing

The Problem With Promotion

Currently, I am about halfway through the latest (is it the 7th? Or 8th?), and probably one of the last, edits of my newest novel. At least until my editor gets through with it. Now, as actual publication nears, my attention my turn to what I need to do before, during, and after publication. Namely, marketing and promoting the book.

And I absolutely hate it.

I know, I know, marketing is necessary if I’d like to sell some books to someone besides my family and friends, but it simply isn’t my thing. I see it as something like changing the oil in my car. I understand it needs to be done; I’d just rather be doing something else.

So why do I dislike it so much? I’ve come up with three primary reasons.

I was raised to believe the old-fashioned concept that nice people do not brag about themselves or their accomplishments. Nice people were modest and let their actions or achievements speak for themselves. If the achievements were truly good enough, they would attract praise without any assistance from us. Indeed, if someone else praised us, we were taught to politely say “Thanks” and then move the conversation to something else.

Marketing and promotion feels like the exact opposite of what I was taught. It’s driving principle seems to involve me approaching strangers (through various media) and shouting: “Look what I did! It’s really, really good!”

I am not a salesman. I don’t like it and I’m not good at it. I don’t have the right personality for it. I am an introvert. In certain situations, I could even be considered shy. Groups of strangers make me anxious. Asking other people to do favors for me stresses me out. There’s a reason I have spent most of my life either reading a book, or sitting at a word processor trying to figure out how to write my own, not working the room at a cocktail party. It’s where I’m most comfortable. When I do go to parties, I’m the guy who sits to the side, sipping his drink, simply watching everyone else. I’m also the guy who makes an excuse and leaves early.

This makes persuading people to buy my new novel very, very difficult. The same goes for networking. For those of us who are introverts, it’s just very hard.

I have spent the majority of my adult life writing, reading, and learning how to write. I am a writer. I am not a marketing expert. I am not an advertising expert. I am a writer. When it comes to marketing and promoting my book, I don’t really know what I’m doing. I look through dozens of web sites offering promotional advice and most of it makes some sense, I’m still somewhat at a loss. Part of the problem is that I don’t live in a metropolitan area. I live in a very rural, very isolated part of the Southwest coast of Oregon. It’s incredibly beautiful, but there aren’t many people around, so any serious marketing either involves a lot of travel, or is limited to mail and the internet.

The obvious solution is to hire someone to do the marketing for me and I have looked into it. It is prohibitively expensive. Way out of my price range.

So what am I going to do? What I always do, (at least with my previous novels). I will research various promotional tools, figure out how much I can afford to spend, create a budget and a marketing plan. It will probably not be the most extravagant, probably not the most effective, but, with a little luck, effective enough. Most of all, I will push myself as hard as I can to leave my comfort zone and try to be as much of that salesman as I can possibly be.

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