Publicity and the Introvert

Reminder: Book Giveaway #3 ends tonight, so make sure you get in your entries before midnight! If you need to look at the rules again, they’re in the post titled Book Giveaway #3, which is also where you can post your entries (in the comments section).

I’ve been doing what feels like a lot of publicity lately, although I know some writers do a lot more. But I thought I would describe what it’s like, for anyone out there who’s interested – particularly other writers. Because the truth is, most writers don’t do a lot of publicity. The ones who do the most are also the most successful, although I don’t know which came first. When you’re successful, you have to do publicity. There’s really no getting around it, unless you’re J.D. Salinger. And trust me, you’re not.

The problem, of course, is that most writers are introverts. Publicity does not come naturally to us. It takes precious energy, which we need to replenish by doing things that do not involve other people. Like sleeping, or sitting under a tree.

Since I’ve been doing so much publicity lately, I’m going to give you my personal thoughts on it. But of course everyone does publicity differently, just as everyone writes differently. These are things I’ve discovered that work for me. And they work for me as an introvert, although as I’ve mentioned, I’m pretty tired right now. I need to sit under that tree or something. Except that right now the ground is covered with snow . . .

Some time ago, a writer friend told me that he was working on a novel, and that once the novel was finished, he would begin to publicize it. He would update his website, go on Facebook. Maybe even tweet. And I thought, how do I tell him that he’s leaving it way too late? That you should start doing publicity at least a year before you have anything coming out? If you start doing it when you have a novel coming out, no one will know who you are. If you start at least a year before, it’s just about making connections, about having a presence of some sort. But it was incredibly useful, when this book came out, that I’d been blogging steadily for a year, that I had been on Facebook and Twitter for a while. For one thing, I was easy to find. I’ll be doing a signing at the Concord Bookshop on February 9th, and the bookstore contacted me through Twitter. People contacted me for review copies through Facebook. So just being out there mattered. It also mattered that when people interviewed me, they could find information on me. Journalists generally like to find background information before doing interviews. My website helped with that.

So I guess the first thing I would say is, you should already have been making connections, so that when something like a book comes out, you have a way to publicize it. You already have ways to connect with people.

Once you have a book, you’re probably not going to be the only one doing publicity, of course. I know that copies of The Thorn and the Blossom went to all sorts of places: newspapers and magazines and bloggers. All of that was coordinated by the publicity department. Your responsibility is to respond to anything: answer Q&As, do interviews, write guest posts. That’s tiring, by the way. Even if you’re doing a telephone interview, it’s as tiring as meeting someone and talking intensely for an hour. (Don’t get me wrong, I love doing it, and I learn so much from the questions people ask me. But we’re talking about publicity and the introvert, and it’s tiring to do those sorts of things.)

That’s the phase I’m in now, just trying to respond to everything. But I’m grateful, at this point, that I had so much in place before this book came out: that I had an updated website, with a press page on which I had a bio and photo. That I had Facebook and Twitter accounts so I could announce things and people could contact me. That I’d already been going to conventions, so I knew people who were reviewers and bloggers. I could ask them personally if I could send them copies of the book. There was no guarantee they were going to like it, of course, and I would never have expected them to like it simply because they knew me. If they disliked it, I would have expected them to say so, honestly. But at least I knew people to send it to. I could coordinate with and supplement the efforts of the publicity department.

So now I’m going to use this forum I’ve created to ask you, would you like to help with publicity? Because there are things I can’t do, but that anyone else who likes the book can do. If you do like the book and you want to help spread the word, here’s what you can do:

1. Go to the Amazon page for The Thorn and the Blossom (notice that I conveniently provided a link!) and “like” it. Or if you have something you’d like to say about it, consider writing a review. Anyone can review on Amazon.

2. If you’re a member of Goodreads, consider also rating the book on Goodreads, or posting a review. Here’s the Goodreads page (again, there’s the link!). You can post the same review on both Amazon and Goodreads, if you want to.

3. If you’re ambitious, you can also write a review on your blog, and thn link to it on Facebook or Twitter if you have those accounts. If you send me the URL, I’ll also link to it in some way, whether through this blog, or on Facebook or Twitter. (Assuming it’s positive and doesn’t give too much of the book away. Of course, if you didn’t like the book, you should feel perfectly free to write a negative review! It’s important to be honest. But I probably won’t link to it, because, you know, I’d rather publicize the good stuff.)

4. And if you’re really ambitious, you can spread the word to actual live people. Relatives, your book group, etc. And how you do that is of course up to you! (By the way, if you want your book group to read the book and you want me to talk to your book group about it, I would be happy to do that.)

Of course, what I want most of all is simply for people to enjoy the book. But if you do want to help out, that’s how to do it. And for writers: if you want to use or copy any of this blog post for your own publicity efforts, please feel free to do so. I’m learning a lot, and I want to share it with all of you.

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8 Responses to Publicity and the Introvert

  1. What a timely post. I bit the bullet and joined Facebook today (as you already know), and Twitter is soon to follow. I’m in the process of searching for an agent for my first novel, and as you so rightly stated in this post, I figured it was much better to start gaining a web presence now, rather than when I have a book to promote. “If you build it, they will come,” right? I think that’s the idea. =)

  2. Thanks for this post, Dora. I’ve had to do a lot of the publicity for RED DOT IRREAL, as my publisher is tiny, and I really wish I had planned earlier to do some of the things I did. It’s also been difficult as the major release was in Singapore, and I’ve been trying to drum up interest in the US as well.

    Dora, did Quirk give you any tips on doing your own publicity, or have you come up with it all on your own? Regardless, it seems to have worked quite well.

  3. Reblogged this on mermaidssinging and commented:
    Stellar advice from an author.

    Dora’s novel was recently released — Please check it out! It’s a unique and potent love story….

  4. Lynn says:

    I came across a copy of “The Thorn and the Blossom” in a bookstore here in Munich last week.
    It’s beautiful.
    Wrote a few words about it on my blog.

  5. Jon Awbrey says:

    I wish you would stop referring to yourself as an introvert. You make me feel like Gollum in comparison.

    Not that there’s anything wrong with that …

  6. In the 1990’s I wrote a fantasy novel that is even longer than the one I am finishing right now. I could write a really funny story about the agents, the contests I entered and how it all all turned out. I had a very complicated life until 2002. Now I am simply writing and showing up and some amazing things have happened; the Book Giveaway here…thank you so much Theodora Goss,

    As sidekick to a fine novelist I learned a lot about publicity. I do what I can for readers I love. Buy
    the new book at local bookstore, Borderlands here in my city, and at conventions, and discuss
    them with sellers, and anybody who around…like, “Hey, have you read The Thorne and The
    Blossom? You will love it…” I have neglected Amazon though they haven’t neglected me. I have
    five offers of buying TTATB but I will comment. Soon. Promise.

    About publicity and me. First, sell novel. I feel like a person in a fairy tale who has to make gold out of straw, climb a glass mountain and learn Elvish in ten days. All I have to rely on is
    synchronicity and my list of (1) agents, (2) indie publishers (3) instructions in self publishing.
    Oh and my little shrine with tiny unicorn, Bast the Egyptian Cat Goddess, a driftwood ‘Madonna,”
    Tibetan paper flags, crystals, etc, etc, etc.

  7. Theodora, I’m a publicity expert who receives calls regularly from authors who want to know, several weeks after their books have been in bookstores, how to generate publicity.

    You’re right. By then, it’s an uphill battle. Your advice to start laying the groundwork a year before the book is published is right on the mark.

  8. Okay, I’ve just pinched some of this for my own blog entry on the topic: http://jasonlundberg.wordpress.com/2012/01/29/publicity-and-the-introvert/

    In exchange, I pimped the hell out of your book, Dora. πŸ™‚

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