The Importance of Consistent Promotion
By Darrel Nelson and Rebeca Seitz
I was lamenting to my publicist, Rebeca Seitz of Glass Road Media and Management, the other day about the challenges of getting myself as an author known. I live in a small town in Alberta, Canada, and I still have friends and neighbors come up to me and say, “You’ve had a novel published? I didn’t know.” And that’s in my small hometown! What about people in my county, province/state, country, and continent? What about people in the world in general?
How do we as authors get the word out there about our books? Are the majority of us condemned to labor in relative obscurity?
Rebeca wrote this encouraging response that I would like to pass along. I hope it helps. She said:
Wailing raises the hair at the nape of your neck. Long, low moans produce gooseflesh along your arms. Gnashing of teeth. Pounding of keyboards. Breaking of pencils.
Yep, it’s tough to be a writer these days.
It’s also glorious to be a writer these days!
As the owner of an all-service firm catering to writers of story-driven products, I hear a lot of worrying and fretting from authors. How will they break out from obscurity? With millions of books on the shelves – and more being added all the time – how will anyone know any one, specific book exists?
Some have tried an initiative here or there. A blog tour. A media campaign. A snazzy new website. Something with Facebook. A radio blitz. They see a blip up in sales for a few days, then back to flatline. Did anything make a difference? Is there a way to truly catch the attention of the market and hold it?
There is a magic bullet. A mystery known by many but practiced only by a select few authors. A piece of wisdom that, when applied, breeds contentment and – more often than not – increased sales.
No, you do not have to call an 800 number or send me four easy payments of $19.99 to learn it. I’ll share it right now, right here, on Darrel’s blog. Ready?
Consistent production and promotion.
Seems too simple, doesn’t it? Way, way too easy. Just keep doing the same thing? Keep plugging away? Where’s the gusto in that? The glory? The triumph of achieving the summit?
I’ve been in the publishing and entertainment industries a long time. Launched more authors than you can shake a stick at (it’s a Southernism, stay with me). The majority of those are now bestsellers and/or award winners.
Please go back and read the last three words of the first sentence in the paragraph above.
Write them down.
Tape them to your keyboard/desk/screen.
Those three words are why the majority of them are bestsellers and/or award winners. They stuck with it for a long time. With each book’s release, they did a bit more promotion, a tad more research for the story, a little better writing. The work of each previous title built upon itself.
I tell authors often, “Do not determine success or failure after book one. Do not assess whether you should keep doing this when book one hits the shelf. Don’t decide if you really can secure a fan base a year after book one has been on the shelf. Don’t use book two for assessment, either. By book three’s release, you might, possibly, maybe, perhaps have enough information to decide what works and what doesn’t with regard to promoting your specific genre and writing style. Do those things for the next two books, while remaining open to new initiatives as well. By book five, you know if you should keep doing this.”
It’s not sexy.
Won’t make you feel all famous and special.
But it will get the job done.
Each book’s promotion builds on the last one. With the release of Title One, you begin to make a name for yourself by visiting book clubs, calling/visiting libraries, and posting on Facebook about the process of being published (and pestering your friends and family to death so they know you’re serious about this). With the release of Title Two, you have a bigger audience to whom you can speak. Friends of those pestered friends and family members have responded to Title One, so you let them know – along with the audience from Title One’s promo campaign – about the release of Title Two. Title Three benefits from the larger audience built by Title Two. And so on.
By Title Five, you have a basic, solid fan base that no longer needs persuaded to buy your titles. They simply need to be informed when a new title releases. They’ll buy it if they know it exists. Now, they need to be persuaded to tell others.
The thing a bestselling author has that a first-time author does not: a large audience who likes his/her stories and does not need to be persuaded to buy new ones or tell other people about the stories.
So, dear early authors reading this post, take heart. You can do this. Don’t hang everything on book one or year one. Let the pressure roll off your back. Being a successful author requires long-term approach, commitment, and perspective.
Keep producing and promoting consistently.
You’ll see results in the end.
Rebeca Seitz is President of Glass Road Media and Management, which provides promotion, production, and management services to storytellers. Learn more at http://GlassRoadMM.com.
I had a wake up call last week that I would like to share. And I need to thank Martha Rogers and Lori Vanden Bosch for providing it.
Because I majored in English in university and have written novels, plays, articles, and songs for over thirty years, I thought I had a fairly good feel for sentence structure. What a surprise I received when Martha kindly looked over my most recent manuscript and pointed out a grammatical error I consistently made throughout the book. Lori, my editor, confirmed the error, and I had to do some fast editing to correct it.
The error involved participial phrases (or “ing” sentences as Martha describes them). For example, Tiptoeing down the hallway, she went into the bedroom. In my mind this sentence showed a transition from one place to another. First she tiptoed down the hallway and then she went into the bedroom.
Martha accurately pointed out that the sentence is chronologically impossible. You can’t tiptoe down the hallway and, at the same time, go into the bedroom. A simple fix would be to rewrite the sentence: She tiptoed down the hallway and went into the bedroom.
Lori sent me an article entitled “Participial Phrase Abuse.” I swallowed hard when I realized just how I was abusing participial phrases. The article stated:
“Participial phrases lend themselves to a host of grammatical ills, including dangling participles and chronological impossibilities. The most common problem associated with participial phrases is the dangling participle. Swimming in the ocean, the cool water refreshed him. The sentence, as written, tells us that the water is swimming in the ocean. Let’s fix it. Swimming the ocean, he felt refreshed.
“Chronological impossibilities are also common. Consider the following sentence: Walking down the hallway, he stopped to tie his shoe. Someone cannot walk down the hallway and stop to tie his shoe simultaneously, so this sentence needs revision. A possible fix: Walking down the hallway, he noticed his shoe was untied and stopped to tie it.
“When you come across one of these phrases, ask yourself two key questions: (1) Does the action expressed in the participle link up with the main clause correctly? And (2) Can these two things happen simultaneously?”
Well, that’s the grammar lesson for today. A giant thanks to Martha and Lori. I am a schoolteacher by profession, but in this area I am clearly the student—a student who had to hit the books and brush up on basic sentence structure. What did I learn? I need to be on the watch for those tricky participial phrases continually. I need to use them with care and use them sparingly. And, most of all, I need to review the basics regularly. Perhaps we all do.
I am a schoolteacher by profession and a writer at heart. I have always loved to write, be it stories, poems, songs, or novels.