Monthly Archives: July 2013
So you’ve written a great book. You’ve had a good editor go through it to make the manuscript the best it can be. You’ve bought a fabulous cover from a graphic artist. You’ve uploaded the book to CreateSpace, Smashwords, Kindle, Nook, Kobo. It’s there, ready to be read. Only problem is, you are afraid of the whole selling aspect of the process. Facebook and Twitter and blogging seem like distractions from what you really want to do, which is sit alone in a quiet space and write your heart out.
I know a lot of authors who are introverted people. That makes sense, really. Writing is primarily a solitary activity. That personality trait is an asset to writers in that respect. However, there are some serious downsides to being an introverted author as well.
Just the other day, I saw an author post on her Facebook page “I’m not really comfortable with self-promotion,” and then she proceeded awkwardly asking people to sort of, kind of, maybe look at her book if it wasn’t too much trouble.
I understand wanting to seem humble, but this sort of approach to the situation only made her seem to have no confidence in the quality of her work. No one will buy a book from a person who seems to feel that they’re not offering anything of value. If you’re not certain of yourself, no one else will be either. And if you’re not comfortable telling people about your work, then maybe a career in writing is not for you.
Yes, being an author is about writing. But you also have to think about the business end of the process too. You’re creating a product. That product won’t sell if you’re not willing to put yourself out there and promote it.
Even famous authors who “have people for that” still do their own promotion in addition. They go on book tours and to conferences. They make speeches. They make commercials. They blog about their projects. They tweet about their work. They are interviewed by journalists. All of that is self-promotion. And that is half of the work of being an author, if you plan on making a career out of it.
You are not just selling the book. You’re selling yourself. You’re selling your name as a brand. And people want confidence in the product they’re buying, whether it’s a novel or a pair of pants. Coke didn’t become a household name without the executives being willing to promote it. The same is true for authors.
The main problem seems to me to be a matter of confidence and of not wanting to seem like you’re an egomaniac. But it’s important to remember that being confident does not make you a braggart. Unless you plan on just passing around a copy of your book for friends and family or are content being the next Emily Dickenson and waiting to publish after you’re long dead, you’re going to have to get over the fear of self-promotion.
Ask yourself these questions:
- Who else knows your story better than you do?
- Who else understands your vision completely?
- Who else do you trust to fully express those ideas to others?
Even if you’ve got a publishing contract with a top agency, you are going to be expected to step forward and say “Hey! I wrote this thing, I’m proud of it, and I think you’ll like it because of X, Y, Z.” And if you’re self-publishing, there is just you as a one-person show to sell others on your work. So stop selling yourself short and get busy!
Having an online presence only works if you make it work for you. That doesn’t mean posting “BUY MY BOOK” over and over. It means building a rapport with people who are interested in the same things you’re interested in. It means networking with other authors in your same genre. And yes, occasionally saying “MY BOOK IS AWESOME, AND YOU SHOULD BUY IT!” Your writing should make you excited. And excitement is infectious.
If you think your work isn’t good enough, work harder. Make it better. It’s that simple.
If you’ve done your best, then get busy telling people about it so they can be as energized by what you’ve written as you were when you sat down in that room by yourself and let your imagination go. You’ve got to be passionate, head-over-your-heels, bursting-at-the-seams excited about your story to carry it through to the end when you’re writing. Let that passion drive you and guide you to then share your creation with the world. Because that is what is at the heart of self-promotion. It’s not begging for money. It’s giving readers all of the emotion and effort that you put into what you made. It’s sharing your imagination with the world.
- What is your name? Do you have a nickname?
My name is Claire Marie Hapsburg. At least, that’s my name right now. I’ve had many nicknames. *smiles*
- What is your hair color? Eye color?
I have blonde hair and blue eyes.
- Who are your friends and family? Who do you surround yourself with? Who are the people you are closest to?
My…child is named Raul. I have other children who died, and I think about them all the time. *pauses, looking away for a moment, then smiles, looking back up* My assistant, Crystal, helps me run my antique shop. She and I are good friends. There are very few people I would say I’m close to. I have my reasons.
- Where were you born? Where have you lived since then? Where do you call home?
I was born in Austria, and I’ve lived many places since that time. Currently, I live in the Central West End of St. Louis, Missouri.
- Where do you go when you’re angry?
*laughs* I try not to let that happen.
- What is your biggest fear? Who have you told this to? Who would you never tell this to? Why?
*shifty eyes* I can’t answer that question.
- Do you have a secret?
Darling, you don’t get to be my age without having secrets.
- What makes you laugh out loud?
My sweet little dog, Pom Pom.
- When have you been in love? Had a broken heart?
Oh, many times. But I try to leave the past where it is. No sense in rehashing old wounds.
- What is in your refrigerator right now? On your bedroom floor? On your nightstand? In your garbage can?
*raises an eyebrow* In my refrigerator? Well, not food. My bedroom floor has lovely antique rugs. My nightstand has an alarm clock, a lamp, and whatever book I’m reading at the time. As for my garbage can, I recycle most things, so there is very little in the garbage can. Raul insists upon it.
- Look at your feet. Describe what you see there.
I love high heels. I always have.
- When you think of your childhood kitchen, what smell do you associate with it? Why is that smell so resonant for you?
*shakes head* I never was allowed to be in the kitchen. I was scolded for being in the way. But I associate my childhood with the scent of roses. The gardens at home were full of them. *soft smile*
- You are doing intense spring cleaning. What is easy for you to throw out? What is difficult for you to part with? Why?
It is easy for me to part with most things, but I have a real attachment to items from my past, especially things that are related to my childhood or to my children.
- It’s Saturday at noon. What are you doing? Give details.
*chuckles* Sleeping, of course. I work at night, so I am never up that early.
- What is one strong memory that has stuck with you from childhood? Why is it so powerful and lasting?
Hmm…I remember my grandmother teaching me to sew and to do decorative needlework. It was one of the few things she said I did truly well. She was a hard woman, my grandmother. It wasn’t easy to please her. I was proud to earn her praise in that.
- You are getting ready for a night out. Where are you going? What do you wear? Who will you be with?
A night out? *smiles* I work nights, generally, so I wear a lot of sweater sets. I do love to dress up, but I don’t have so many occasions to do so these days.
- What do you consider your greatest achievement?
*soft laugh* I can’t answer that.
- What is your idea of perfect happiness?
*bites lip thoughtfully* Perfect happiness would be spending time with my family.
- What is your current state of mind?
I’m very well, thank you.
- What is your favorite occupation?
I own an antique shop. Of the various occupations I’ve had, it’s the most relaxing.
- What is your most treasured possession?
Oh, I have several. I can’t really choose one. I keep them locked away.
- What or who is the greatest love of your life?
*sighs* I am afraid it hurts too much to answer that question, my dear.
- What is your favorite journey?
*raises an eyebrow* Favorite journey? I’m a homebody, so I’d rather not travel any more than necessary.
- What is your most marked characteristic?
My sense of style. Everyone says so.
- When and where were you the happiest?
*shifts uncomfortably* Are all these questions like this? I really don’t want to answer that.
- What is it that you most dislike?
- Which living person do you most despise?
Is this a trick question? I honestly can’t answer this either. Next!
- What is your greatest regret?
*looks away* These questions are unpleasant. I thought you said this would be a fun activity. *frowns* Losing my children.
- Which talent would you most like to have?
I am not musical.
- Where would you like to live?
I’m happy where I am.
- What is the quality you most like in a man?
- What is the quality you most like in a woman?
Strength of will.
- What is the trait you most deplore in yourself?
I often give my trust too easily.
- What is the trait you most deplore in others?
- What do you most value in your friends?
Loyalty and sincerity.
- Who is your favorite hero of fiction?
Hmm…Lestat de Lioncourt. I do enjoy Anne Rice’s excellent novels.
- On what occasions do you lie?
*laughs* Oh darling, a lady never tells.
- Which words or phrases do you most overuse?
You had probably best ask Raul that question. I never pay attention to a thing I say.
- How would you like to die?
*big laugh* Is there anyone who has an answer to that? I’d prefer it never happens.