I love writing. Sometimes the words and ideas flow. Other times, I feel as though I’m dragging them out of my head. But after a while I have a rough draft, then I edit and edit and edit until I feel the story is ready to go public. I query, wait, hope, and if the stars align, I sell the story. The publisher takes the manuscript, hones it to as near perfection as we can make it, and a book is produced and offered for sale.
End of story. Right?
At least it’s not the end for most of us. Not nowadays. Once the book is published—even before it’s published—there’s the marketing. It used to be that the publisher did most of the marketing and the writer did a little, maybe made and handed out bookmarks or something with the writer’s name and/or the name of the book on it. This was simple, low cost merchandizing. But then publishing houses started cutting costs and the PR budget was slashed. Now the writer had to take on more of the burden. No longer just a writer, he or she has become a publicist, has learned how to use social media (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc.), write blogs and participate in blog tours. To get the word out about a new book, we beg for reviews. (I hate doing that, but I know they’re important.) We spend time figuring out how to get articles in on-line or print magazines. Newsletters. We pay for advertising. Give talks at libraries, book clubs, etc. The list goes on and on.
It seems as though we have to do more and more every year. Some of it I like, especially any events where I have face-to-face contact with readers. On the other hand, some of the marketing makes me feel like a door-to-door sales person.
I don’t know any way to avoid it. Even hiring a publicist requires some personal involvement. (And not everyone can afford a publicist.) As more and more books are published, both through traditional publishing venues and self-publishing, we’re all going to be struggling to be “seen.”
I wonder what marketing ideas will pop up next. And will they make any difference?