Stephanie Cowell, a wonderful novelist (click here to see her titles), wrote to me this morning:
I keep up my website and blog there, keep up my art web site, keep up my Amazon page, twitter, Facebook, reconstructing mailing list (!), answering many lovely e-mails— What else do you do? I am afraid if I try much more I will not be able to submit my next book for hopefully a contract late winter. I’d appreciate advice. I also have not scheduled many in person signings. This is all so much more complicated than publishing a book several years ago!
This is such a big problem now. Writers have to invest both time and money in self-promotion, which robs time away from what’s truly important: writing.
How does one juggle so many balls? I suggesed to Stephanie that she try to get as much mileage out of what she was already doing (which is a lot). This is what I wrote to her:
Do you use Ping.fm or HootSuite.com? You set these up to automatically post your blogs to Twitter, Amazon and Facebook. (Note: my current favorite is HootSuite.)
Google Alerts are good for finding out whenever your book is mentioned on-line. Then you can leave a personal note, if it seems appropriate. The same for Twitter. Through a TweetDeck search, for example, I know whenever my novels are mentioned, and can respond.
I’ve been making a point of including my on-line connections whenever I post to a blog or list. (See below. I don’t usually include a picture unless it’s an email—HMTL can be tricky on some sites.)
For answering fan mail, save time by creating a form-letter answer in signatures that’s easy to make personal. (A note on answering fan mail—some authors create an assistant identity to answer their mail. There’s an advantage to this: you can toot your own horn.)
Ultimately, a newsletter is important, so building up a database is crucial.
If you have a Facebook page (“fan page”), you can send out ads really, really cheap. It’s a lot of exposure for very little time and money.
Signings/readings do very little, in fact. So few people come! The main advantage is that it gets promotion. (I used to work this very hard, sending out posters, contacting the local media, etc.) Also, every reading you give is practice for the next one—every writer is an entertainer in training. And face-to-face reader contacts are wonderful, of course (the best).
There’s YouTube, as well—I use a little Flip video to record a reading or interview. These are good to put on your website and blog.
Book clubs are wonderful but hard to get to. I’ve been looking into Skype chats. (I still can’t figure out how best to reach book clubs, however.)
Book trailers are either time-consuming or expensive, but seem to be more and more important. (Are we to become film-makers, as well?)
I’d love to hear from readers of this blog: any other ideas?