The problem is that most of us had no idea that this would be part of writing. I guess many writers, if they were like me, imagined sitting in a nice cottage by a lake, pounding out bestsellers while a faithful golden retriever slept on the braided rag rug near our pine desk, and some guy in a suit in some city far away handled the promo stuff. Maybe once or twice a year, we’d be forced on a herded march across the country to sign books at stores and inform Regis and whoever-is-now-the-new-KathyLee why they should buy the latest paperback. However, the emphasis was always placed on having a press corps based at some shiny corporation doing all the real pushing and boasting.
This vision has never happened for me – and likely won’t, judging by the decline in traditional publishing houses and the miniscule shot new authors have at getting accepted by brick-n-mortar publishers, who like to stick with tried and true producers in lean times. Therefore, a great number of new authors, like me, are opting for small publishers, micropresses and ebook companies, or for self-publishing, as opposed to lingering for two to five years in the agent-winning and contract-seeking (aka Slush Pile) process. We are independent (“indie”) authors.
E-Books present to new writers a shot at seeing their work in print in much less time than traditional publishing, which is a fine thing. However, part of what we indie authors sacrifice for this quicker gratification is that smaller presses are often run by people with day jobs who have neither the time nor the resources for effective marketing.
Thus, unlike my pre-publishing visions of what the writing life could be, many of us smaller authors find ourselves toiling in the PR world without training wheels, and it can be a horrible business. At the very least, it can be embarrassing, awkward and extremely time-consuming. Dickens might have been paid by the word, but we indie authors get paid only per sold copy, and, like a desperate gambler, we become convinced that the more time/money we put into promotion the more copies we will sell.
For my new book, a full length romance about a man and woman thrown together by potentially misguided marriage between his sister and her brother, I finally bit the bullet and made a “press package” (which you can find on the book’s website – which I also made myself through trial and error). http://annehollystringsattached.weebly.com/index.html
One of the hardest things I ever put together, that press packet, including a press release that made me blush with every single word. In it, I had to present myself as someone I was interviewing, as if I were a reporter writing a human interest story about a local author. This is how press releases are done, I know… But, somehow, I always pictured it being some PR person writing such things for me, and not me praising myself.
Now, none of this means I am not proud of my book – in fact, I still enjoy reading Strings Attached, even after a hundred rounds of re-writes and edits. I am happy I wrote it, and I am pleased to present it to readers. The characters delight me, and the setting (Canada’s north) is enchanting. If this book was written by someone else, I would love to tell people why they should read it.
But it was written by me.
And mum always told us not to brag.
So, there we have it. *sigh*
I think this is something that authors either get over or never handle well – this difference between self-promotion and boasting; the feeling of being slightly soiled by the process of “pimping” one’s efforts. After all, we are artistes, right? Not common salespersons…
In fact, this is a false dream, I am coming to realize. Whether the sales are done by you or by someone hired by your company or agent – whether you are Stephen King or Anne Holly – someone must sell your work. Promotions and art are not opposing goals; promotions allow writers to create more works, by exposing their writing to more readers and by allowing the writer to earn something off their work. Some might see it as a necessary evil, which might be so, but that doesn’t reduce the truth of it. “Publish or perish” doesn’t cover it all – “Publish and Promote or perish” is closer to the truth.
So, there’s the dirty truth of it all. My name is Anne Holly, and I have a press packet. And my ideals of ivory tower author life never did come to fruition. My work, though indie, has to sell. And, because I am indie, I must be the one to sell it. I came to a crossroads at which I almost stopped writing to avoid this truth, but I am now passed that. So, now I flog my book as much as I can.
Heaven bless mum, but it’s no mortal sin to promote.
Maybe if I repeat that enough times, I will blush a little less when I have to write my next press release. You think, maybe?
Great advice Anne. I agree that this is hard for many authors to promote themselves. I have a few questions for you.
I write romances partially because I love to read them. I have always loved romances, like my mother before me. Now, as a mother myself, I understand the attraction – sometimes, you really need a decompression hobby to keep an even keel. I think that to be a successful genre writer, you must respect the genre, and read it regularly to keep up with your segment of the industry. Romance is certainly not all I read, but I am proud to say I am a romance fan, as well as a romance writer.
I've always loved to read romances as well. It was easy for me to pick this genre to write in. What was the setting for the most romantic scene you’ve ever written?
The most romantic scene that I ever wrote took place under the northern lights in the snow. Actually, almost all of my romance has to do with either snow or rain. For me, plain old sun is not dramatic enough for love, I guess.
What is your all-time favorite romantic movie (comedy or drama etc.)?
I love all sorts of romantic movies, so I can’t possibly name them all. But It Happened One Night is, I think, the prototype of all those that followed it. And the final scene from Chaplin’s City Lights kills me every time. And, finally, the tender way that Jean Arthur’s attachment grows to Jimmy Stewart in Mr Smith Goes to Washington makes me sigh, no matter how many times I see it.
When Canadian rancher Josie Sergeant gets a call from her brother announcing his impetuous decision to marry, she has her reservations. But, when her brother’s would-be brother-in-law swoops in from Australia to stop the wedding, Josie has no choice but to defend the family.
Theo Sabich is bull-headed and dangerously sexy, but also damaged beyond repair… or so he thinks. He enjoys getting on Josie’s nerves, but when he finds her getting under his skin he must decide - face his demons and grab this last chance for happiness or bury himself in his lonely Outback ranch once and for all.
Under the northern lights, their attraction ignites beyond their control, and Josie finds that a one-time “no strings attached” release of passion is easier said than done when love is hanging by a thread.
Sounds like a great book. Thank you for sharing. Where can readers find your book online and I understand you have an excerpt to share (please see the link below).
Excerpt can be found: http://annehollystringsattached.weebly.com/excerpt.html
Purchase link: http://www.amazon.com/Strings-Attached-ebook/dp/B0053GSWCY/
Before we end our chat, please tell us about yourself and where readers can find you online.
I'm a Canadian romance writer, and author of the new contemporary romance Strings Attached. I have published shorter works through Wild Horse Press, Wicked Nights and Decadent Publishing. I reside in southwestern Ontario, where I spend my time teaching, writing, and raising my three year old son.
Anne, thank you again for stopping by today to share your advice and tell us a little bit more about yourself. I enjoyed our chat and hope you come back again. Hope every one can stay for a bit to visit with us.