Saturday, March 13, 2010

Hey Buddy, Do you Want to Buy an Author?

By Keith Fisher

I’ve been amazed lately. I sit at the feet of great friends who are masters of the art of promotion and publicity.

Years ago, as the director of a Dutch oven society, I realized the value of shedding a good light on what we did in that organization. I learned about creativity as it relates to publicity. It was relatively easy to promise free samples, and expect people to come to an event.

Then, a Utah County Health Department official heard my interview on a local radio program. I’m still not sure of the motives, but they threatened to close down our cook off, and we would not be allowed to give free samples. Now, because of that incident, cook offs in Utah County, most times, don’t offer free samples.

Promotion got harder after that. Creativity became the watchword.

Later, I got serious about my writing career. I learned publishers rely on authors to promote themselves, and their writing. I already had an Internet presence and I knew how effective it was for the Dutch oven group. I knew how to approach shopkeepers and manufacturers. Having worked in sales for so long, I knew the value of a business card and promotional gifting.

I also, knew I hated sales, but I loved courting customers. I shifted gears and launched my author promotion campaign. I made a new website, business cards, and joined writers groups. Networking came natural to me. Then, I was invited to join the LDS Writer’s Blogck, and I could get my writing out there. Blogs were relatively new then. I could network by keeping up, and commenting on all the writer’s blogs, because they were few in numbers.

Then came Facebook, and other social networking sites. Josi Killpack talked about using launch parties as a tool to avoid the common book signing. I wrote an outdoor cooking blog for, Your LDS Neighborhood, and because book launch blog tours were becoming popular, I started another blog.

Soon there were hundreds of blogs. Networking became a nightmare. How was I going to keep up? Many of my friends were getting published. Launch parties became popular. Writer’s conferences, besides being an oasis in the desert of not being published, were a great source of networking with authors and publishers.

In my critique group, we talk about the new developments in publicity and bounce ideas off each other, but I sometimes feel like a stranger on Madison Avenue. Most of my writer friends have turned into advertising executives.

Now, book launches are becoming charity events. Great contest ideas and other publicity campaigns are inspiring. Every time I turn around, there is another, new way of drawing attention to a book. I don’t even try to keep up with the all the blogs. I comment on a few, but time will not permit my checking them all everyday.

I spend a lot of time going to launch parties and blogging about books. I write down all the great ideas I see, and file them away for when I launch my book. I work hard at networking, posting witty comments and advice on Facebook. I’m polishing my latest work in progress and working on a dozen more.

Like the day the County Health Department heard me on the radio, promotion has gotten harder. It is worth it, however, because it means the difference between selling 1, and 5,000 copies. If I tap into my creativity and do it right, I might just be a best seller.

Good luck with your writing—see you next week.


Jane Isfeld Still said...

I love it. I also know where you are coming from. I am not an publicity executive! But I have found that I do like promoting my book. Soething that has surprised me. Wish I knew how to be more effective :)

L.T. Elliot said...

Social networking/advertisting can be an exhaustive nightmare but I also love some of the things coming from it. At Annette Lyon's triple launch party last night, they had great promotional tools and services that benefitted soldiers in the field. I thought it was touching and brilliant too. You're right. It's wild but I think it's a great opportunity too.

I'm looking forward to your bestseller. =]

Carolyn V. said...

This is an interesting dilemma. One I have been thinking about. Networking and getting out there takes so much time, but hopefully there are great rewards for doing so.