Is Your Self-Publishing Marketing Attitude Half Full or Half Empty?

Jan 24

I empathize with the frustration of having to knock on so many doors to effectively promote a book. Jumping into social media alone is daunting enough, and much more is usually needed. The core marketing question is this: How and where will you show up and be publicly visible to your ideal reader?

Imagine this scenario. You have several novels under your belt. You've been a dedicated writer for years, and you've spent many of those years going to writers' conferences, attracted by the promise of scheduled ten-minute appointments with editors and agents. These appointments give you the opportunity to pitch your book, so you arrive with a well-honed elevator speech. At the start of the meeting, your attitude glass is probably half full.

Let's say the appointment goes well. (And agents in particular are usually quite gentle in the writers' conference setting.) You are encouraged because, yes, they would be interested in seeing more pages. But several weeks after submitting your manuscript, you receive, if not a preprinted rejection note, a personalized "No thanks. I'm afraid this is not right for us." Suddenly your attitude glass is half empty.

After years of submissions and rejections, you acknowledge we're in a new age — the digital age — and you decide you might as well make a go of it. You explore the web. Everyone is talking about the need to blog to find one's book community, and most writers are giving in to the pressure and joining Facebook and Twitter. Seeking professional support — perhaps a worthy mentor — you join a couple of LinkedIn groups. But in the end, you find everyone's in the same boat as you, somewhat lost, and searching for marketing solutions. Now your marketing attitude is even less than half empty.

After a couple more years, you give in and pursue self-publishing. You decide to try one of your novels as an eBook to test the waters. But you still must pave the way for people to find you, and this involves self-promotion, as well as perhaps hiring a good publicist specializing in social media and online marketing. This can be costly, however, so you wonder, is an expensive publicist the only choice? Or can you push yourself to learn the ropes yourself?

And here's the dilemma. As one writer said to me, "Between writing, life maintenance, and practicing jazz piano, I simply don't have time for those things, and feel they are more than distracting: They unravel my soul."

So what now? Time to reexamine your attitude. Envision your glass filling back up. Self-promotion has been part of being a published author for decades. Whether you are pitching your book or developing a platform from which to trumpet your work, you are the one who has to do the lion's share of the marketing. Resolve to take action with a positive marketing attitude only. Choose to look at your glass not as half empty, but as half full and growing ever fuller. You may need to hire some help. There's nothing wrong with that. But if you truly want to reach an audience and sell books, the most important step is to commit to getting yourself out there.

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  1. I am new to this world, seeing so many people around me writing and publishing books (I live in China, hot topic). I am in the middle of trying to finish my first book (looks not too bad …) but remain baffled on how hard it seems to be to find suitable agent. As for now I focus to finish the first book, target: in a few weeks at most.

    • Gilbert, good luck with keeping to your target schedule! Thanks for writing,

  2. I am committed to getting myself out there all right. The daily challenge for me is to know exactly *how and where* to be out there in the rapidly changing marketing landscape that a self-publishing author is now faced with. I have informed myself well with the help of consultants like you. And for a writer, I am uncommonly experienced and inclined to marketing. Still, choosing how to spend my 8-10 hours a day since "Bare Naked at the Reality Dance" was publsihed last month is taking all the stamina and inspiration I can muster. Thanks for your support!

  3. Hi Suzanne, thanks for writing. Great question: "to know exactly *how and where* to be out there in the rapidly changing marketing landscape." My question would be, do you have a Marketing Plan? One that covers four strategic areas for actually selling the book? Significant web presence, strong speaker presentation schedule, media appearances (publicist help)and distribution plan beyond amazon? Would you like to explore creating a marketing plan for