Tuesday, August 16

The Promotion Dilemma



I’ve been promoting this past week—not just my writing, but also my editing. Every couple of months, I find at least two new publishers to “cold call.” Basically, I send an email to the head of the production or editorial department letting them know I’m a freelance copy editor with great fiction editing experience. I include a list of all the publishers I’m currently working with, sometimes I drop a name or two of famous authors who love my work (ahem), and I tell them that I’d like to have a conversation with whomever hires their freelance editors. I make sure they know I’m willing to take a test because believe it or not, after over twenty years at this game and even with what I think is pretty damned impressive resume, I still have to test for new clients. 

For a long time, the whole testing thing really bugged me. Heck, nobody asks their auto mechanic to take test or their dentist. My husband didn’t have to take a test every time he started a new engineering project—clients of the company he worked for just trusted that he knew what he was doing because he was . . . well, an experienced engineer. But you know, I guess there a lot of unscrupulous people in the world who might lie on resume or claim they can do something they’ve never done before just to get a foot in the door. So . . . I take tests willingly and with a smile because I need work and as long as the test is reasonable, I’ll do it. Full disclosure: I sometimes get no response from publishers I cold call. That doesn't happen as frequently as it did when I first started as a freelancer, but it does still happen now and again. But marketing is part of the game and if you want to work, you play the game.

Then there’s the writing promotion. Ack! I’m so dreadful at this. I’ve submitted ads to Bookbub six different times and only been accepted once. It was a great promotion, but it only included their foreign markets, not the U.S. I’d love to get a U.S. ad with Bookbub for my Women of Willow Bay series, but they’ve turned me down consistently five times since the first ad, and you know it’s demoralizing to be told that “other books submitted were more suited their readers’ current tastes,” when I get their emails every day and I know what they’re accepting and it’s romance novels, mostly. But, on the other hand, I can’t expect them to grab my book just because I want them to. I’ll keep trying—perhaps one day, they’ll accept me. 

That being said, I hate pushing my books on Facebook and Twitter—honestly, everyone who follows me those two places already knows about the books. And author signings are another way to promote, but frankly, I haven’t found those to be worth the expense of traveling somewhere and sitting at a table for hours. I don’t spend money on a lot of swag that I know will get tossed away after an event. I have my rack cards, which make great bookmarks, except that so many people e-read now, why do they need a bookmark? I’m speaking at the library in our lake town next week—another chance to get my name and books in front of people, but I’m nervous and wondering if I have anything to say that will interest those library patrons.

I think it helps to keep your readers engaged with articles and links on your Facebook page or website that speak to your genre of writing—for me, that’s seasoned romance. It’s a way to keep the buzz going without throwing your own books into people’s faces. Mostly, I need to be writing, not pushing what’s already out there. Having new material for readers is probably the best promotion of all. That’s the key I think, keep writing . . . thoughts?

7 comments:

  1. As you know, you're preaching to the choir here. I hate promo in nearly all forms. I will say one thing I've found out in my new gig of working at the library is that people like bookmarks. If there aren't any lying on the counter, some of them will ask for one. (In all honesty, one lady said she had 50 at home & didn't want more, but that was just one lady.)

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  2. That's good to know--that people actually want bookmarks. ;-) I'm so glad for you that you found the library gig--that's a whole new world in an old comfortable venue--does it get any better? Enjoy!!

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  3. Good luck at the speaking event, Nan, you'll do great! Library chats are my favorites because you really can just chat. It's not an overt 'here's my book buy it and I'll sign it' plea.

    I agree that a new book is probably some of the best promotion out there - because if a reader likes the new, they'll go back to the older.

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    1. Thanks, Kristi! I'm kinda nervous, but I hope it will be the chatty sort of event you mention.

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  4. A new book definitely is cause for celebration (and vast, shameless promotion!), but I'll vouch for the benefits of author signings as well. Granted, this is based solely on my experience with Writers on the River, but while I did not recoup the money spent, I networked with a bunch of new-to-me authors, and we "liked" each other on facebook, which has exposed me to their readers as well. Not only did my world expand, but so did my fan-base. It was great exposure for my writing, and I'm hoping the new release will benefit from it.
    And you'll do great at the library event!

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    1. Ava, I'll grant you that author signing events are a good way to get your name out and to network--it's invaluable for that. I do hope for you that the new book gets a wider audience for all your work! Thanks for the support--wish you could be here for it!

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  5. Have you considered teaching at a writer's conference? At Willamette, while they frown on you shamelessly promoting your book during a presentation, but using examples from it along with others is fine. And also, they let the authors who lead workshops have their books in the B&N bookshop that's put up during the conference. And the networking is huge.

    I don't know how you are at public speaking, but you have a wealth of knowledge that writers would love to mine.

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