Walking the Self-Promotional Plank
Two months form today, my debut novel will be available for human consumption. Time is inching by at breakneck speed. Yeah, it’s super slow fast.
I’ve received my manuscript back from my copy editor and am methodically going through his suggestions. Which, by the way, are everything I had hoped they would be! I’m accepting near 95 percent of his proposed changes, perhaps more. And each is a minor improvement on the story, in their own right. I do love this process!
Pub Day looms closer with every passing sunset. I find myself ahead of the game in terms of having a final book. But I’m also breaking into a promising career as the president and CEO of my very own marketing department. Being that this is my first foray into self-publishing, I learn as I go. But who really knows if I’m doing any of it right? On a wing and a prayer, I sail on in a furious flurry of mixed metaphors.
Publicity - Past & Present
In a world far removed, back in another millennium if you can believe that, I began my bright-eyed career in publishing. In the heart of New York City, I landed a sweet temp job in the publicity department of a major publishing house. Knowing full well I did not want to spend my life hawking other people’s books, I was nonetheless eager to learn everything I could about any arm of the industry as I attempted to make my way to where I really wanted to be: editorial.
I worked in publicity for a whopping three months before I finagled a full-time position elsewhere in the company, in editorial (yah!). During my ever-so-brief tenure in publicity, I made photocopies, mailed books, typed out correspondence for the head honcho, and did all manner of other menial tasks that I’m sure have absolutely zero relation to what I need to do today, two decades later. But hey, it was worth it just to get me started.
In 2019 (that is the current year, right?), those licking envelopes and stamps skills don’t exactly carry much water. So so much for that pointless yet nostalgic trip down memory lane.
What I have been doing thus far is contacting book review bloggers via the newfangled email communication system. This is a time consuming process that will be well worth it in the end. I do hope.
First, you have to track down said bloggers. There are websites such as BookBloggerList.com and IndieList.com that can aid an author in locating these voracious readers. The best way to go about this, I have learned, is to create an Excel doc (or something similar) to keep track of all the prospective bloggers you contact.
Book review bloggers are usually precise in their literary interests. The majority of them have separate pages on their blog dedicated to “Review Policies.” Be sure to look for genres each blogger enjoys. You don’t want to waste your (or their) time submitting a request to review your multi-generational, interstellar, time traveling pirate romance novel if they state very clearly somewhere on the blog that they’ll entertain “any and all books EXCEPT multi-generational, interstellar, time traveling pirate romance novels.”
These folks are pretty busy, as you might imagine. They get inundated with requests on a daily basis. So be sure to make your pitch sparkle and stand out from the rest, as best you can. Even then, you are likely to encounter some frustrating silence. Just like when you send your polished manuscript out to agents and editors, you should expect not to hear back from many bloggers. It’s just the nature of the beast. To date, I have sent perhaps two dozen book review requests and heard back from about eight. Of those eight or so, three of them have politely replied that my story did not sound like something that would interest them or their readers. That’s OK! Not every book can be for everyone! The remaining five enjoyed the blurb I sent and were enthusiastic to receive the full manuscript. Yay! Hopefully, they’ll enjoy the rest of the book and write nice things about it on or around pub day.
But that’s another thing, see. A book review blogger may not enjoy your novel at all. They may rate it low and then your sales could be negatively affected. But what are you gonna do? Ignore the dark side of publicity because you’re afraid of a negative review? That would be pretty narrow-sighted. Once your book gets out into the public’s hands, you may receive all kinds of criticism. Might as well get used to it as soon as you can, right?
By the way, I’m talking to you, the prospective indie author who is rowing the same boat right now, but I’m also talking to me. Chin up! Stiff upper lip and all that! Take the good with the bad and batten down the hatches. Because self-publishing is a wild ride. or so I’ve heard. I haven’t actually done it yet. Two more months to go! Hi ho hi ho, yar, and all that.