This is a difficult article to write because promotion of your writing is intensely personal. This is a collection of advice I’ve frequently give, advice I’ve frequently been given (and it has proven to be effective! Frequency of advice doesn’t always mean that it works!) and general observations from what I’ve seen and done over the years. This is by now means a definitive guide but read it through and some of it might be just what you’re looking for to improve your own promotional skills.
Being Constant. Constantly YOU.
I don’t mean constantly spamming your friends and family, that is in fact being a spazz. Don’t gush your enthusiasm and then deflate in despair. Look at what you’ve written and talk to people about it. A lot of the time having a comprehensive interest in your own writing will lead to invitations to engage in further conversations and interview. This happens because you’ve successfully expressed why you spent so much of your time and energy writing whatever it is your’re promoting.
I mean be constant the way a butterfly will ‘constantly’ pollinate flowers. Butterflies aren’t looking for appreciation from the flowers, but despite acting on pure, intuitive needs, they provide a service for every flower they visit. Writing is giving a gift of leaving a trail of words behind you; if you’re lucky, people will find your words when they need to hear them. That’s when the real magic of writing manifests!
Take advantage of these invitations to showcase who you are; and don’t panic if it seems like you aren’t getting instant recognition!
I don’t mean ‘invitations’ in terms of who you wish you were or how you wish people would perceive you: people are sensitive to insincerity. This also doesn’t mean letting the worst of you out and being a depressive wreck during your interview. You need to be your best self, but still true to you. Be as honest as you can when you talk about your book and your process and don’t forget that this is a chance to engage someone not just in your promotion but in their promotion as well. Whoever is interviewing you is a human being too and listen to them and how they interact with you.
There are more deceased famous writers than living ones. You don’t know when you’ll be heard or if you’ll even be heard in your lifetime. The best way to promote yourself is by being you. Maybe there’s a dozen different ways to be ‘you’, explore them all. Be prolific if it’s in you to do so. Share and don’t count your value as a writer in terms of dollars earned.
Your life and your experiences will invade every aspect of your writing, go with it. Love it. Even when you think you’ve lost yourself in the page and the world has nothing to do with your life; one day, you’ll look back on your writing and see layers in what you were saying.
You’ll know you are doing the right thing in promotions when you start to hear back from people and they say: what you wrote spoke to me. What you wrote was exactly what I needed to hear and it showed me the way when I felt like there was no way.
Those are the sorts of fan letters you want the most… those and the ones from fans who also send chocolate!