Whether you’re self-published or traditionally published, you're expected to do a lot of your own marketing these days. When and how should an author begin the book marketing process? This episode tells you the hard truth and offers practical tips to get you started.
Music licensed from Storyblocks:
“More Jam Please” by Raighes Factory
"Fun Breezy Disco Transition" by The Turquoise Moon
"Welcome Home" by Enzo Orefice
"Blow Off Some Steam" by Ben Bostick
"Come a Little Closer" by Humans Win
If you have plot bunnies coming out of your plot holes, it’s time for a writing break.
This season we are sailing beyond the calm, warm waves of writing and heading straight into the storm of the author’s life outside of writing. Last week I hit you with the strongest wave of truth, which is that the odds are not in your favor financially. If you didn’t abandon ship, you might have thought about it. Those of you still clinging to the mast, get ready for another strong wave of truth at the end of this episode.as the Guest of Honor for the:
We are at Beletrina Bookstore in Ljubljana, Slovenia. Founded in 2010 and located in the heart of the city, Beletrina Bookstore is part of Beletrina Academic Press, a publishing house founded in 1996 that releases fiction, non-fiction, poetry, and children's books. Beletrina Academic Press is one of the most important literary publishers in Slovenia, and its books have been translated into many languages.
As for the bookstore, it is a soothing space. Warm white LED strips line the tan bookshelves. Simply heavenly. The bookstore is a popular meeting place for writers and readers, and it hosts a variety of events that promote literature and culture.
Let’s settle into the small cafe for today’s writing break.
An editor is being detained in China for “endangering national security.” The editor-in-chief of Gusa Publishing, Li Yanhe, whose pen name is Fucha, was born in China and lives in Taiwan. Gusa Publishing releases books about the history and politics of China's communist government.
Florida's new education law is requiring social studies textbook publishers to censor certain topics. These topics include lethal police violence against Black Americans, the Black Lives Matter movement, George Floyd's murder, the Holocaust, the Hebrew Bible, and more. When the books were first submitted for approval, only 18% of them were said to comply with the new Florida law. Stephana Farrell, the director of research and insight for the Florida Freedom to Read Project, is concerned about what this censorship might mean for the rest of US schools. Since Florida has several of the highest ranking school districts in the country, the state could potentially set a standard that other state's schools follow.
At last month’s London Book Fair, CEO Brian Murray admitted that HarperCollins is using AI in a number of ways, such as for the generation of images, translations, first drafts of marketing copy, and manuscript summaries.
Despite this, Murray claims that AI content generation scares him, noting that the ability of machines to create stories and books will, among other things, challenge copyright, which was devised only for human-created content. As we’ve heard in past Writing Breaks, the US Copyright Office has so far consistently rejected authors who attempt to copyright AI-generated content.
Overall, Murray sees AI as both an opportunity and a risk for the book publishing industry. He believes that AI can also help publishers do things more efficiently and effectively, but he also worries about the potential impact of AI on copyright and the creative process.
As for me, I worry that all of this efficiency will still not yield more money for non-celebrity authors.
Links to these news articles can be found in the show notes of this episode and on writingbreak.com. Let’s use the bookstore’s reading corner as today’s Overthinking Couch while I do a little venting about nonfiction writers.
Let’s talk about personal development books, aka self-help books, and their constant quoting of other authors. I hate it. I really do. I’m not saying every personal development author does this, but seeing that an author has quoted self-help gurus such as Eckhart Tolle or Tony Robbins signals to me that I’m about to read a watery rehashing of dozens of other books. I know I just upset some of you, not necessarily because you write this way but because you like books that are written this way. One or two quotes is fine, but the way I see it, if an author consistently quotes other authors to help make their point, either they have nothing new to say or they are not digging down deep enough to be genuine. Those are both good to put those books on my DNF list.
Now, let’s roam around the shop to meet with a Slovenian-Austrian poet.
Maja Haderlap’s latest poetry collection, Distant Transit, is now available in English.
“Infused with movement, Maja Haderlap’s Distant Transit traverses Slovenia’s scenic landscape and violent history, searching for a sense of place within its ever-shifting boundaries.
Avoiding traditional forms and pronounced rhythms, Haderlap unleashes a flow of evocative, captivating passages whose power lies in their associative richness and precision of expression, vividly conjuring Slovenia’s natural world––its rolling meadows, snow-capped alps, and sparkling Adriatic coast.
Belonging to the Slovene ethnic minority and its inherited, transgenerational trauma, Haderlap explores the burden of history and the prolonged aftershock of conflict––warm, lavish pastoral passages conceal dark memories, and musings on the way language can create and dissolve borders reveal a deep longing for a sense of home.”
Let’s take it to the register and then settle back into the reading corner for today’s writing tip. I do not think you’re going to like this piece of advice at all.
Some days I think the hardest thing to discuss with authors is marketing. As I’ve stated before, whether you’re self-published or traditionally published, you are expected to do a lot of your own marketing these days.
The kicker is that the best time to start marketing your book is as early as possible. The earlier you start, the more time you will have to build an audience for your book. Marketing your book while you are still in the writing phase will give you a head start when it comes time to release your book and start selling copies. I know you don’t want to hear it. Many authors wait until their book is done to even begin thinking about marketing and are then surprised when they sell a mere handful of copies on release day.
Some authors tell me that they don’t do social media. I can understand not enjoying social media, but we are fortunate to be living in a time when this powerful marketing tool is available to us for free.
In addition to social media, you should consider creating a website or blog for your book where you can share excerpts, author interviews, and behind-the-scenes content. This is also where you will build an email list so you can stay in touch with your potential readers and let them know when your book is available.
You could also make the effort to connect with other authors in your genre, and social media is a great tool for that as well. This can help you build relationships that can lead to getting your book in front of a wider audience. Just remember that these connections should be genuine.
Another way to meet potential readers and booksellers is by attending book festivals and conferences. As I’ve said in the past, not every writer is going to succeed at this. You know your strengths and weaknesses when it comes to face-to-face interactions.
Other free options for book marketing that you can start while writing include appearing as a guest on a podcast or even as a guest writer on a blog or website.
It takes work. A lot of work. It also takes consistency, creativity, and patience. But most of all, it takes authenticity.
If you really cannot stand the thought of marketing your own book, there are book marketing agencies that will happily charge you a whole lot of money to do it for you.
OK, that’s as much reality as I can tolerate today. Feel free to return to your work in progress and write in the death of one blunt but beautiful book editor slash podcast host.
Until next week, remember, you deserved this break.
If you would like us to visit your favorite independent bookstore, feature your favorite independent author (even if it’s you), or discuss something you’re overthinking about, please email me at email@example.com.
Thank you for making space in your mind for The Muse today.
Writing Break is hosted by America’s Editor and produced by Allon Media with technical direction by Gus Aviles. Visit us at writingbreak.com or contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.