Saturday, August 30, 2014

How Being Traditionally Published Has Made Me Lazy

My publisher recently implemented a new PR policy that, at first, put me in a really bad mood. I won't go into specifics, but it has to do with just how much they are growing and the changes they have to make in the kind of publicity they can offer their authors. Now, don't get me wrong. They still offer more personalized attention than almost any other small publisher I've ever heard of. But they've studied the market and came to the conclusion that certain types of PR just weren't really working anymore- one of them being the blog tour. (That's been taken as gospel in a lot of circles, actually.) I spent a couple of hours being bummed about this before I had one of those realizations that feels like it should be accompanied by thunder and lightning.

Being traditionally published has made me lazy.

It's not that my publisher is offering less PR. Nope, it's more that they offer so much more than I was used to as an Indie, that I let myself just slip into the comfortable flow of, "Well, CQ handles that. Right?" And they do handle a lot of stuff- no way could I afford BookBub and NetGalley, just to name two. But I used to do so much more promotion and outreach when it was just me. It hit me that I actually miss it. It's not just about sales. It's about feeling more plugged in to the book world I love so much.

After the panic subsided, and after my epiphany, I sat down to look at what I was doing then vs. what I'm doing now, and I identified three things that I can slip back into, relatively pain free. Actually, there are way more than three, but I cut off the tip of my finger with a potato peeler the other day and typing has become very clunky. So three it shall be, for now. Let me start with my two golden rules of the writing trade:

Read, read, read
Promote unto others as you would have promoted unto you

These lead into these specific marketing strategies I used to do but stopped because, well, I got too comfortable:

1. Visit and interact with book bloggers. This should be an easy one. You're a reading fool, right? Because writers need to be readers too. We must stay abreast of what's current in our field. We must learn by seeing what works, and what doesn't. I don't even know how many times I've heard some variant of, "If you don't read, you'll never be a writer." My take on it is that writers are just readers who run out of books now and then and have to make up their own. But the point is: there is a whole universe of websites run by people who read like mad fiends, too! And they are nice enough to write reviews, have discussions, and even contests about the very same books you are probably reading. Why not reach out to them? Chime in about a book you've read that they're featuring. Pop up every now and then, even if it's just to say, "That looks interesting. I'll have to check it out." Spread the book love, people! And when the time comes to promote your book, those sites that share your interests will probably be willing to promote you too. After all, you have books in common, and odds are good a book you write will fit right in.

2. Start a blog of your own. At the very least you need a landing page and a FAQ section so people can actually find your books. But for me a blog is a valuable personal and commercial tool. I use it to communicate with readers, but I also look at it as a way to become a better writer. This little blog o' mine is where I practice. Sometimes my entries are quick and dirty, and sometimes I sit down and pour effort into what I hope will be original, thought-provoking content. And sometimes, those kinds of posts have actually turned into longer articles, stories- that kind of thing. My blog also autofeeds into my Goodreads page, my Amazon author page, Twitter, Facebook, and more. It's like a feeder site for all other social media platforms. I realize blogging is not for everyone, but for me, it's the single most important social media tool in my arsenal. 

3. This is more a variation of #1: Reach out to and review other authors in your genre. This is just another way not just of networking, but of staying on top of your field. You don't even have to stick to the genre you write, I suppose. I tend to stick to YA and paranormal because that's what I like. The important thing, though, is to reach out and make connections. Frequently, especially in the case of Indie authors or small presses, they might even review you in return, or give a shout out when you've got a book coming out. This is not the kind of review trading Amazon has banned. Amazon, in fact, welcomes reviews from other authors. The only stipulation is that 1. a reviewer cannot live under the same roof as the author and 2. a reviewer must not receive any financial compensation for the book in question. "Financial compensation" means editor, illustrator, etc., NOT donating ARCs or review copies, although if you get one of those you must disclose it.

As I wrote above, there are many more than these, and hopefully my finger will heal enough to write more soon. I'd like to leave you with a couple of questions: what book blogs do you love? Can you recommend some for me? What are you reading that makes you want to connect with the author? I'm asking because, as I've said multiple times, I'm feeling out of touch, and your insight via comment section would be greatly appreciated! 

10 comments:

  1. I like Book Vault Reviews and Shoibhan's Book Realm- they both do YA paranormal and are very outgoing. Also like YA Indie Princess. Her artwork is to die for.

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    1. I know YA Indie Princess, and yes, love the art. I'll check the others out. Thanks!!!!

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  2. I need to work on my blog. That's all it is right now--a blog. It needs to be an author's website.

    My to do list is as tall as my TBR pile. Gah.

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