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:~: Wednesday, March 07, 2007 :~:

The Big Picture

Honestly, I haven't had much trouble with bad advice...but that's probably only because I rarely listen to it--good or bad.

I'm not sure why. Must just be part of my personality because I've been like this since I was a kid--didn't heed my parents' warnings, didn't learn from my siblings' mistakes, didn't follow my friends' paths. I'm a pretty mainstream type of gal. I just do things my own way, in my own time.

This is the typical pattern I follow with advice: Listen to it, cull the bullshit, research the rest, take the bits and pieces that fit me under consideration.

Most of the time, the dis-information in our industry is so glaring, it doesn't even glance off my brain, just blows right by. But I did hear something recently that isn't as much dis-information as it is shortsighted--focusing in on the trees and ignoring the forest.

I can't remember the exact wording, but it went something like: Promotion is the last thing an unpublished author should be thinking about. The tone said that promotion is a waste of time for the unpublished.

That gave me pause. I actually thought about this. I even considered it. But the reason I considered it wasn't so much the merit of the idea, but the source--a well-known, successful author (who does little individual promotion, btw).

After the thought flowed through my brain synapses a few hundred times, it was culled.

That's like opening your own business without doing any market research.

That's like buying a car and then taking driving lessons.

That’s like jumping on a plane to India without studying the culture.

IMHUO, a writer needs to know about that next step, so that when they sell, they're ready to take it without hesitation. Imagine all the wrong moves a newly published author could make in promotion if they hadn't done their research and tested the waters beforehand.

Planning for the big picture is not only solid common sense, but good business--no matter what industry.

We're cross blogging this week with Romance Unleashed on the topic of "dis-information", so pop over and see what Lori Devoti has to say about The Inside Scoop.



Blogger Sally MacKenzie said...

Great post, Joan. Promotion is a hot topic among the published folks, too. How much is enough? Should you do any at all? The thing is, no one can say with any real authority that author promotion helps sell books (or books in any quantity to make a difference)--but no one can say it doesn't either. So this is my take on promo:
1. Have a professional looking website. I'm not convinced that you have to have the very expensive, all the bells and whistle site, but it needs to look professional. It's a way for readers to find you. Most of my fan mail comes as email through my site.
2. After the website, everything else is speculation, so do what your budget permits and what you enjoy. DO know your print run, however--or at least a ball park figure--before you open your wallet and keep that in mind when planning promo. If there's only going to be 5,000 of your books out there, don't bother with promo--people won't be able to find your book anyway.
3. The best promo is coop from the publisher--real estate--placement in the bookstore. Authors can't afford that.
4. The best promo is writing your next great book, so don't let promotion keep you from writing--and believe me, the risk is there!
Now, I don't think any of this is dis-information, but I'm sure the other Unleashed will let me know if they think so!!

7:44 AM  
Blogger Lori Devoti said...

Like all dis-information there is a grain of truth somewhere in there. For this one, I think it's that the most important thing is to be working on writing--writing more and writing better. So, I'd guess the author in question assumed if an unpubbed writer was promoting, she was stealing the time from her writing.
To be honest, this can be good advice for pubbed authors too. It really is easy to get carried away trolling myspace or designing your own book trailers--when really what would help you out the most in the long run is to work on another book.
But as always, it's individual and no one else can say what is best for you. That's always the final measuring stick.
p.s. Like right now...I should be writing...

8:31 AM  
Blogger Joan Swan said...


I think that's what frustrates me the most about promotion -- no direct link to guage effectiveness. In most marketing pushes you've got numbers to refer back to, a guide to let you know how your efforts are affecting sales. Seems that hard to do with publishing.

Good info on the print run. I'll tuck that away for future reference.

1:03 PM  
Blogger Joan Swan said...


I think that's what the author was getting at, although it sounded a little preachy at the time. I absolutely agree that the writing comes first - the craft, the storytelling, the character development, etc. I'm a huge proponent of putting out the best you can put out--first and foremost. I'm also a big proponent of planning ahead and knowing what lies in your path.

One can only write so many hours of the day...we've all got to check on our cyber friends now and then, right? :-)

1:08 PM  
Blogger Joan Swan said...

Found this quote listed on Running With Quills today...it said something I was trying to say in my post (but so much more eloquently)...

“Before you build a better mousetrap, it helps to know if there are any mice out there.”

—Mortimer B. Zuckerman.

2:34 PM  
Blogger Michelle Pillow said...

Great post topic :)

IMHO, I think new authors/aspirings don't think about promotion enough and then that contract/release/what-have-you hits and they're left clueless on how to start. I know before publication I rarely thought about marketing a book, I just wrote. So when publication came, it was a trial by fire. Luckily it worked out, but I'm a researcher and in hide sight, that's not how I'd have done it. (And that's not saying I'm a promo guru by any means--I'm always trying and learning)

But, I think it just goes back to what works for one, doesn't work for another.

9:50 AM  
Blogger Elisabeth Naughton said...

Yes, I get this. And it's a great post, J. But it still mind-boggles me to some degree. As a yet-unpubbed, promotion is one of the farthest things from my mind, and by promotion I mean promoting books that are not yet sold. I suppose blogging/being active in my chapter/putting myself out there so my name is more widely known is a form of promotion, though it doesn't feel like it to me quite yet.

I hear a lot about this in my writer circles, and frankly, I still feel relatively clueless about all things promotion-related. I'm just glad I have you around to lead me by the nose. ;)

10:32 AM  
Blogger Joan Swan said...

I hear you, E. And I think I've been using the term promotion synonymously with networking. I think of promotion as name recognition, identification of myself as an author as opposed to one particular book.

2:41 PM  

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