I’m very pleased to welcome Sara-Jayne Townsend as a guest to my blog today. I’m sure readers will find her post very interesting and informative.
THE IMPORTANCE OF SELF PROMOTION
By Sara Jayne Townsend
The contract for my first novel, SUFFER THE CHILDREN, arrived in the summer of 2010. I was so excited about it I told everyone, including my work colleagues. A couple of them said to me, “So I suppose you’ll be handing your notice in now, to be a full time writer”.
I knew of course I wouldn’t be. Even then I had a fairly realistic view of how much – or to be accurate, how little – money a new writer can expect to make on royalties.
But what even I hadn’t fully appreciated then was the bigger picture of what it meant to be an author. The days of the author sitting back and raking in the cash while a team of marketers work hard to sell their books are over – if indeed they ever existed.
In these days of the e-book and Internet marketing, a writer has to get herself Out There. It’s a given that any writer offered a contract will already have a website, and a blog, at the very least. If you have a book out with a major publishing company, you can probably talk to the book shops and arrange signing sessions. But if your book is an e-book, how can you promote it?
The Internet is becoming an ever more important marketing tool for writers, and you don’t have to be a software programmer to be able to use it. Blogs and web pages can be set up using a variety of available templates – all you have to do is sign up for an account and away you go. Facebook, LinkedIn, Goodreads and Twitter are all additional ways for the writer to spread herself about the Internet, and they all have applications that will allow you to link them to each other – so if you post a Tweet, it will automatically appear on your Facebook and your LinkedIn page, and you can link your blog to your Goodreads page, which saves you having to update each page separately. Amazon’s author central facility is also essential to the newly published writer. Once you set up your profile, you can link all your publications to it, so when a reader buys one of your books, they can easily find out about your others.
The challenge is finding time to use these Internet tools for promotion. More than one writer has told me they don’t blog because it takes time they could be writing. The truth is that it’s just as important to find time for self-promotion as it is to find time for writing. If your blog doesn’t get updated for nine months whilst you finish your latest book, your followers are likely to stop reading it. Even a weekly update will keep people interested, and if they’ve been reading your blog, there’s a good chance they will be interested in buying your new book – especially if you’ve been keeping them updated about its progress. This applies even if you’re an unpublished writer. Don’t assume that your life is so uninteresting nobody would want to read about it. The things that are routine to you might not be so to someone else. I take the train into London to get to work every day. A lot of people from overseas seem to find my Tweets about observations on my daily commuter train rather interesting.
There is an irony in all this, of course. Most writers are introverts. Pimping oneself across the Internet does not come naturally to them. But these days, self-promotion is an essential skill for a writer. These days, a lot of publishing companies don’t have big marketing budgets. Anything you can do to help your book sell will not only help your royalties, but it will help build your reputation as a saleable writer.
BIO: Sara Jayne Townsend is a UK-based writer of crime and horror. She likes Star Wars, Buffy, playing Resident Evil and Dungeons & Dragons and other forms of geekery. Her first novel SUFFER THE CHILDREN will be re-released as an e-book at the end of June.