preload preload preload preload preload preload
0 Comments | Jan 16, 2015

Portrait of the Author as Publicist

for-sale-sign-vectorThe cold, bitter truth is that most writers are awful marketers. I’ve yet to meet an author who enjoyed or was any good at self-promotion and publicity. Not only are we terrible at selling to begin with, but we also tend to resent the time that we’re obliged to spend doing it because it cuts into time that we could be writing. And yet, if we subscribe to the belief that authors strive primarily—either publicly or at least in secret—for readers, then we’re forced to accept the uncomfortable fact that we’re all obliged to expend at least some measure of effort to promote and sell our work.

There were something like 900,000 new books published in the U.S. last year, about two thirds of which were self published, and about 99% of which were published by authors few readers have ever heard of. The implications of these disturbing statistics should be self-evident. Despite the relative ease nowadays of making our publications available for purchase on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and other book sites, making potential readers aware of our work and getting them to buy it are different challenges entirely.

It’s a frustrating thing indeed to work for a year or more writing a book and bringing it to market, only to see your sales rank on Amazon creep gradually into the millions. It is also a sobering experience to see a single book sale suddenly improve your ranking from the millions down to a hundred thousand or so, the implication of which is that there are literally millions of books for sale on Amazon that no one buys—ever.

Bottom line is that, absent the funds to hire your own publicist, the onus is on the writer to beat the bushes and conjure up his/her own audience, whether it’s through effective exploitation of social media, regular blogging, reaching out to radio stations and print review sites, or simply selling copies out of the trunk of your car (something Stephen King actually did for a few years). Once you’ve gotten those first few easy copies into the hands of your family members and close friends, the rest is good old-fashioned hard work, made all the more so by the millions of new competing publications that hit the market each year.

Leave a Reply

* Required
** Your Email is never shared