In today’s publishing climate, authors are expected to promote themselves. This increased responsibility put on authors by their publishers has contributed to the rise of self-publishing: if you’re going to be responsible for promoting your own book, you may as well also take more control in publishing it.
But unless you’ve already got major literary commendations under your belt, self-publishing is still considered code for “can’t find a publisher” in the academic literary world. Regardless of quality or commercial success, a self-published book would stick out like a sore thumb on my university’s faculty publications listing, and I doubt shorter self-published works would even be posted at all.
However, that doesn’t mean literary authors can’t take cues from self-publishers’ innovative and inundating methods of promotion. Why not have your publisher’s seal of approval and reap the buzz benefits of a strong authorial presence, too?
As you are marketing as if you’ve gone rogue, keep two things in mind:
1. To avoid feeling like self-promotion is obnoxious, don’t be obnoxious.
In a recent Writer Unboxed blog post, author Jael McHenry gave advice about how to promote yourself without blatantly telling people, “Hey, buy this!” This is the very same strategy I discussed in terms of Twitter etiquette.
Instead, if you build an online presence that’s authentic to who you are (see Nathan Bransford’s blog post about online branding), “Buy my book!” will automatically be the underlying message to every word you tweet or blog.
Which leads me to my second tenet of self-promotion:
2. Be prolific.
This is what has made the self-publishing success stories. You can have the most sincere, insightful writer’s blog out there, but no one is going to notice you if you post once in a blue moon and don’t tell anyone you’re doing it. Try various platforms to figure out which ones work for you, then use them as often and in as many ways as possible. Some options:
- Blog. Blog about writing. Blog about reading. Blog about your daily life. Blog about your interests. Comment on other blogs. Invite guest bloggers or guest blog for someone else. Exchange blogroll links with other bloggers.
- Tweet. Link to interesting articles. Respond to other tweets. Retweet great tweets. Talk about your day. Make funny comments.
- Join Goodreads or another social reading or writing community.
- Create a book trailer.
- Post YouTube videos of your readings.
- Start a podcast.
- Use Tumblr.
- Participate in online author Q&As.
- Hold your own discussions.
- Post excerpts of your work.
- Hold contests.
By all means, don’t stop here. Be yourself, be present, and take some risks.