Shameless Self Promotion 101

When people ask what I’m doing to promote Who Are You People? I tell them, quite honestly, everything I can think of. And I mean it. Authors rarely get any substantial promotional support from publishers, so if a book is going to go anywhere, it will be because the author pushed it there.

So, what does “everything,” in promotional terms, really mean? It means:

1. Sending out complimentary copies and promotional postcards to all the major characters in the book and asking them – nicely, of course — to spread the word.

2. Mailing postcards to friends, family members, old college roommates, former students, other writers, and anyone who’s told you the book sounded interesting, including that guy you once met on a cramped Air Canada flight.

3. Developing a website.

4. Learning how to blog. Blogging. Reading other blogs. Getting lost in the blogosphere and reluctantly admitting to yourself that the whole blogging thing is far cooler than you had originally envisioned.

5. Establishing a My Space account, but only after being reassured that “lots of other older people” have one.

6. Hiring a publicist (One Potata Productions) to conduct a national radio and television campaign, a local media campaign, and a multi-city radio “tour.” (This is after you interview 12 publicists, who quote you prices ranging from $3,000 to $30,000.)

7. Squealing like a 10-year-old when you land your first national media interview… on NPR!

8. Staying up all night before the NPR interview thinking of every possible way you will manage to inadvertently sound like a dork.

9. Staying up the night after the NPR interview celebrating the fact that Lianne Hansen actually liked your book. (You’ll come to refer to this as your Sally Field moment. She likes you… she really, really likes you.)

10. Hiring a print publicist to send out review copies, follow up with phone calls, and strategize ways to get the book mentioned in every print medium possible.

11. Breathing a sigh of relief when the print publicity starts to pay off with mentions in Minneapolis and Boulder newspapers, and editors of other newspapers, magazines and book review journals get back to you to say reviews are planned.

12. Squealing (again) like a 10-year-old when Sky Magazine signs a contract to print an excerpt of the book in their November issue.

13. Working with a web marketing consultant (City Desk Design) to explore the endless possibilities for internet promotion through blogging, guest blogs, online book reviews, viral marketing videos and the development of a “fanatics anonymous” campaign.

14. Personally arranging for bookstore readings, paying for the travel to get there, and worrying endlessly no one will show up except for the crazy guy with no teeth who goes to all the free stuff in town.

15. Sluttily – but happily — accepting every invitation to speak.

16. Working with entertainment lawyers and actively pursuing Hollywood leads to turn Who Are You People? into a cable television series — even though you have no idea how Hollywood works and fear your breasts might not be large enough to land you a job there.

In between all these steps, you’ll also be obsessively tracking your Amazon ranking, worrying about what you’re not doing, making sure your partner is not getting freaked out by all the attention you’re getting, begging your publisher for more review copies, ignoring the fact that you’ve already spent far more money than you anticipated, and reassuring yourself over and over that this will all pay off… this will all pay off… this will all pay off.

So… how will you know if does pay off? How will you know if the book has become a “success.”

We’ll get to that tomorrow…

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