I’m new to audience-building, publicity, promotion, marketing. I’m forcing myself to learn because it’s a skill every author needs. Right? But right now it’s feels like the equivalent of teaching a cat to shave. It seems that everywhere you look, the experts are pointing to the need for social media. I don’t do social media. I did once, but in the 18 months since quitting I’ve found myself healthier, happier, and more productive. So I stay away (a trend I think we’ll see more of in the coming years). Compound this issue with my living situation: a cabin in the woods an hour from nowhere (literally).
I want to wow publishers and agents with my drive for professionalism, I want to take my career by the horns and get the word out that I’m an author (once I’m finally published), but outside of moving or returning to the psychologically damaging world of social media, what likelihood do I have of doing any of that? How do you promote yourself when you refuse to play by modern social marketing trends? What is the likelihood of generating a Lee Child-esque career when I live in Carkoon and never like or share any of Felix Buttonweezer’s posts?
We'd all be happier, healthier and more productive if we didn't have to go to work every day too.
I'd get so many blog posts written, and they'd be longer, more nuanced, and assuredly less-typo-rife, but yanno, as long as this blog is free, and my rent isn't, work is one of those things I need to do.
And promotion is one of those things you need to do IF you want people to find your book.
Sure a publisher can hit the trade journals like Library Journal, Kirkus, and Publisher's Weekly. And maybe even offer some co-op to Barnes and Noble so your book is front and center for the first week it's out in the world.
But effective marketing tells us that that the way to reach people is word of mouth; recommendations from friends.
Look at the last ten books you read out there by lamplight in the woods. How did you find those books?
In fact, keep track of how you found books in your list of the books you've read (you should keep a list if only to remember what NOT to check out at the library.)
The last book I read was The Unicorn in the Barn by Jacqueline K. Ogburn. I read it cause a friend (a client actually) told me about it.
The book before that was The Wanted by Robert Crais, and I read it cause I've been reading Robert Craise for years now (in other words, he was not a debut.)
The book before that was Alibi Junior High by Greg Logsted and I picked it up on reccomendation of a friend (a blog reader.)
Before that The Fire and the Fury and we all read that cause we heard about it via the news.
And before that was Perish the Day by Nick Petrie and while this is the second time I'd read the book, and I read it cause I'm a besotted fan, the FIRST Nick Petrie novel I read came to me via a friend (his agent LaSlitherina herself, Barbara Poelle)
See the pattern?
Verify it with your own reading patterns if you think I'm an anomoly or an outlier.
As to removing yourself from social media, well, we all existed quite happily without Twitter for a few gazillion years and managed to sell a few books anyway.
If you don't want to use social media, what do you want to do?
The option isn't social media or nothing if you want a career. It's social media or something else. You can name the something else, and I'll probably be willing to help you with that if I love your book. What IS a non-starter is "I'm going to sit here in the woods and write, and let you other people promote my books."
Even Lee Child does promotional work. And Harlen Coben, before he was a mega-bestseller, spent a lot of time calling bookstores about his first book (the bleeding football cover, get him to tell you the story someday, it's hilarious.)
And my go-to promotion model JA Jance built her bestselling career store by store. She knew every single bookstore and retail outlet that stocked books for three hundred miles up and down the 1-5 corridor in Washington, Oregon and Califfornia. She knew the manager's name, the event coordinators, and she knew what their book groups liked to read. She wasn't on Twitter or Facebook either; they hadn't been invented yet.
And Debbie Macomber built her best-selling career with a newsletter that her fans adored. She didn't have Facebook or Twitter either; they hadn't been invented yet.
So yes, there are old school ways to promote your novel. And they work. NONE of them involve someone else doing it for you.
And Felix Buttonweezer is pretty hurt you haven't returned his calls about the KalePie Eating Contest.