You have to go to the world.
Writing a book is hard. For days, weeks, months, years you dedicate your time to your work. You pour your heart and soul into it, shape it into what you want it to be, put words on the page that reflect the ideas floating around in your head.
And then, the day it gets published, it’s the best day of your life! There’s a mix of emotions, from relief to fear to excitement to dread. But underneath it all, there’s accomplishment. All your hard work and dedication paid off.
But you’re far from done. Anymore, the author is expected to take part in promoting their work—especially if you’re mid-list, indie, of self. And promotion is not really where any of us want to be. We want to be back in front of our computer or with our pen and paper creating the next work. The euphoria of getting one story out is still with us, and we want to keep riding that wave for as long as we possibly can.
When my first book came out in 2009, I thought for sure all I had to do from there on out was continue to write. I was convinced that since my book was in the world, readers would come flocking in droves. The movie offers would come flooding in. Unfortunately, the reality was different—much, much different.
It took me several years (and several books) to realize that the world isn’t going to come to me. I have to go to the world. And that takes a lot of time.
I’m not very good at promoting myself. I always feel like I’m gloating or bragging when I talk about my work. In fact, more often than not, if I’m in mixed company and someone mentions that I’m published, my face turns bright red and I have a hard time talking about my books.
But the thing is, as authors, we’re the best people to promote our work. We know it inside and out, we get excited about it because we know our characters better than anyone. And that excitement can be infectious. If we can get others just as excited as we are, then maybe they’ll read our work. So why is it so difficult to do?
It’s hard. I know. It takes a lot of time and dedication. Even doing blog posts or posting on social media takes time—let’s not even talk about doing readings or presentations or attending conferences. How in the world are we supposed to find time to write with all of that extra stuff going on? Especially since the vast majority of us also have to work full-time jobs! There’s not enough time in the day.
But that’s why you have to make time. These past few months, while I’ve been learning a new job, I’ve let my book promotion slip. I haven’t had time to do much of anything except some Twitter and Facebook posts. I’ve done a couple Facebook takeovers and guest posts, but not much else.
With the way the publishing industry has changed, anyone can be an author. There are literally millions of books out there. But that’s not a bad thing. Having more to read and more choices for readers can be overwhelming, but as long as they’re reading, I’m happy. But how do you stand out from everyone else? You have to put yourself out there.
I’m not saying I’m a pro or that I even know what I’m doing when it comes to promotion. But I have learned over the past few months that it is easy to fade away and get lost. You don’t always have to be out there yelling, “BUY MY BOOK” because that won’t work—it’s nice to sell books, of course—but you need to be out there being engaged and talking to people. Find others who share your interests and start chatting.
Personally, I love talking horror, and I haven’t been able to get onto my favorite horror sites and read the latest news. That makes me sad. I miss that connection. As much as it embarrasses me to talk about my books, I miss being around people who like to read and who want to talk books—even if they are mine.
I need to change that. I need to get myself back out there. It’s tough, for sure, and it takes a helluva lot of time, but it’s worth it. Don’t wait for the world to come to you, go to the world. Show the world how passionate you are about what you do and they’ll share in your enthusiasm.