June 23rd 2012
This last week, I went to a class at The Aspen Writer's Conference on how to market my book. What I learned is that you can't start too early, but you can defintely get to this aspect of things too late. What I also learned is that I am going to have to hire a publicist to do this for me, because when it comes to the interent and tweets and toots and all things bright and beautiful, I am a complete blockhead. There were about twenty-five people in this class, and they seemed to be quite savvy in the art of facebook and its spin-offs, whereas this blog is about as techno as I get. I asked how much a publicist would cost and the answer was anywhere from $1,500 to $5,000. My problem is that I don't have any sense at this point how much the publisher is going to get behind this book. They can go a long way or do very little, and if it's the latter, then I had better get my skates on, as we say in Britain. It's all about building a fan base and whatever you need to do for that, like setting fire to yourself on the steps of the county courthouse, like doing a Lady Godiva through the streets of your neighbourhood. You can try to get publicity through your local papers and then those further afield, you can get a list of top book bloggers and try to befriend them, get them to review your book.There is apparently a site called HARO (Help a Reporteer Out) through which journalists actively look for good news items, and your story might be one. In short, you have to create a social media presence, which is hard for a writer who spends their favourite times locked away in a room scribbling. You have to befriend librarians and bookshop sales people. You have to send out questionaires and buy business cards.
I don't know about anyone else, but all this makes me want to put a pillow on my head and hide. If I had been good at selling myself I would have gone into the theatre. Still, the rub is that a person in my position is actually on the cusp of greatness or looking at a short sharp dive to the bottom of the heap. As my agent reminded me, one thing worse than being a writer with no books on the market is one with a failed book. So, you have to pull out all the stops, do whatever it takes, dance naked on the coffee table of your local bookstore, sing Scottish ballads on your local TV station. Or then again, you could just hire a publicist.