The ART of Book Promotion

In the Digital Age, promotion is a daily part of most authors’ lives, whether they like it or not. Considered by many as two separate processes, writing is seen as creative and purposeful; promotion, a drudgery. Well, what if authors started thinking about promotion as part of their creative lives? What would a writer’s life look like if creativity and promotion were blended? As someone who studies book promotion all day long, I can tell you that authors who incorporate promotion into their creative lives are having a lot more fun, becoming better writers, building longer-term relationships with their readers, and selling more books than those who keep these two responsibilities separate.

What exactly am I proposing here? I’m suggesting that when we put the “art” back in book promotion, both authors and readers benefit. Let’s start by taking a look at a few examples of this “blending” done well.

I became aware of Colin Falconer (@colin_falconer) through a tweet that said his blog was “seriously addictive.” The link took me to “Looking for Mr. Goodstory…an author’s search for James Clavell’s ghost, a good bourbon, and the perfect role for Russell Crowe.” Before even exploring his posts, I knew I liked this guy. Why? Because he was clever and having fun. The first post I read was about famous last words. It was oozing with creativity, historical knowledge and whimsy.

I explored the site more fully, and found posts about Falconer’s fear of flying, “a phobia about the kind of people who end up sitting next to me on planes. These were humorous, short character sketches with which anyone who’d ever flown could identify: The Ear Popper, The Talker, The Sweaty Virgin, and so on.

Though I am sure Falconer mentions his books sometimes, none of the posts I read did. He simply let his writing speak for itself. He drew readers in with his craft, and he appeared to be having a great time doing this. Subtly stationed nearby was a bio, which explained that he was the author of more than twenty historical novels. Also found on the sidelines were book covers, which linked readers to more information about his books. Though historical fiction is not a genre I typically read, I wanted to learn more so I bought a digital version of Falconer’s book Seraglio.

Roz Morris is another author who came on my radar as a result of social media. I had already purchased her latest book, when I saw her January 10 guest post for Creative Flux called  The Black Dress.” Here, Morris shared a scene she’d cut reluctantly during final revisions of My Memories of a Future Life, a novel about an injured musician who must contemplate life without her passion.

Morris explains about the scene,

I like its simplicity, the tiny slice it showed of a musician’s life and the totemic responsibility Carol put into one garment….Even though it didn’t make it to the page, I like to think that she still did it, off screen in the moments we didn’t see.

Carol's DressThen, Morris commits another act of creativity and shares an elegant photograph she herself took of the dress, a family heirloom that inspired the scene. The response from readers revealed a high level of emotional engagement. Not only did they empathize with her struggle as a writer to cut a scene that she loved, but the story of the black dress took on a literary life of its own.

I especially identified with one reader’s comment.

This is a touching scene. After having read this book, I do agree that it reiterates what Carol [the musician] is feeling….It brings back all of those pangs that I felt for her….Thanks for sharing this melancholy reminder of a great read!

Do you think the next time Morris publishes a book, this reader will be there ready to devour it? Do you suppose Morris enjoyed creating the photo that breathed new life into a cherished but abandoned scene? I’m confident the answer to both questions is yes.

As a final example, I introduce the work of Harrison Solow, author of Felicity & Barbara Pym, a book I have now read twice. Like the other authors mentioned here, I discovered Solow’s work through social media. I dare you to tell me that you could resist clicking through tweets like these:

[blackbirdpie url=”!/HarrisonSolow/status/183323563556749312″]
[blackbirdpie url=”!/HarrisonSolow/status/171311093531164672″]
[blackbirdpie id=”175266655063121920″]
[blackbirdpie url=”!/HarrisonSolow/status/174495826415063040″]

Solow’s brilliant literary teasers make your neurons twitch until you click through and fall into a rich trove of stories, poems and reflections. Each tweet is an intimate invitation to explore the life and work of an artist. The more of her work you encounter, the more you want to read. And with each new post, her body of work as an artist grows. In this approach, writing and promotion are symbiotic…simply a writer sharing his or her unfolding body of work with the world. Herein, we discover the true “art” of promotion. Instead of drudgery, book promotion becomes an encounter with creativity that is a joy for both reader and writer.




Kathy Meis

Kathy Meis

Kathy Meis is a writer, ghostwriter, former award-winning journalist and passionate reader as well as founder and CEO of Serendipite Studios, a publishing technology startup located in Charleston, South Carolina. Stop by, and check out Pappus, the revolutionary eTool that lets authors blog directly from their books.




Please join the discussion below

22 thoughts on “The ART of Book Promotion

    • Roz, Kathy’s piece revealed a nuance in your deleted scene: once you shared it, in addition to the emotional richness and visual eloquence as a stand-alone, you ‘trusted’ your reader like a friend. The act of sharing sustains the power of confiding in them, or telling them a ‘secret.’ Effective and connective.

  1. Kathy, this is a brilliant essay. Using your craft to speak for itself is one of the most elegant forms of communicating an idea. Today, in addition to an instant audience, social media afford us new and unfamiliar opportunities for promoting our product(s) and, without thinking, we often mimic the gimmicks learned from our years of consuming hard-sell advertising tactics on TV.

    Not only are your examples—the styles of Falconer, Morris and Solow—perfect benchmarks for the use of rich subtleties in intelligent marketing but so is the artfulness of this essay.


  2. Thank you Roz and Terre. Roz, I loved what you did with the little black dress. I’m not surprised that you had a great time creating both the post and the photography for it. Your enthusiasm was evident and contagious. It was a perfect example of how much fun it can be to promote art with art. Bravo! Terre, thank you for your kind words about my post. It came from the heart. I engage with authors every day who are struggling to promote their books without feeling like salespeople. I wanted to show them that there is a way to do this that is actually fun and creative. Falconer, Roz and Harrison model a different style of engagement with readers. Rather than shouting out to the world about their books, they draw readers in with an ever evolving body of creative work. It makes the whole experience of book discovery fun again!

  3. You used great examples, Kathy, to teach an inspiring lesson. As an internationally-exposed stained glass artist, turned author, I’ve tried to dampen my artistic urges in favor of nice-clean-tweets. You may have unleashed something with your post.

    Roz’s little black dress was a perfect sample. Anyone who has read this “trashed” scene, and saw her dramatic photo, will not soon forget it’s beauty.

    When you say Faulconer’s indirect marketing – not listing the title of his book – is a strength, I became sad.

    How can I, a freshly pressed author of my first novel, VAGILANTES, not mention it at every opportunity? Maybe there will be time to be less boisterous after I’ve published twenty books.

  4. First of all, Julie, congratulations! Publication of your first book is something to celebrate. I’m glad you liked the post and found the examples useful. I certainly don’t mean you should never mention your book. But if you think of building a loyal readership who will support you as you publish those twenty future books, remember to share your love of writing, your creativity, your passion …not just your latest book title. Trust me, if your book is well written and you take this long-term, community minded approach, you won’t have to mention Vagilantes very often because your readers will do it for you! Again, congratulations on becoming a published author!

  5. Kathy,
    The thought of actually having fun promoting one’s work is so enlightening and refreshing! You’ve planted a rich seed here for all writers to think about by showing specific ways to enjoy the process~i.e.”inviting readers to explore their life and works” rather than pushing their works on them like a salesmen. Your examples clearly illustrate how promotion can be an extension of creativity. Roz Morris’ black dress story is a perfect example-how we can capture the reader’s imagination despite cutting out scenes. This is such an important post as we all have to take responsibility for book promotion these days.Thank you for sharing!

    • Kathy, you summed it up perfectly in the ‘refreshing’ aspect of ‘how promotion can be an extension of creativity.’ I think you might also be interested in Harrison Solow’s piece, “The Research Question” an excerpt from The Bendithion Chronicles (PhD Thesis).” She talks about ‘telling a story that keeps happening,’ and discusses her thoughts on truth versus fiction, with the highlight being her rephrasing of Shakespeare’s Sonnet 116. Worth everyone’s attention.

    • Kathleen,
      I’m so glad that you enjoyed the post and found the examples useful. Roz, Harrison and Colin, the three writers mentioned, were my muses. They inspired the post because I felt their style of “promoting” was unique. In fact, they weren’t promoting at all. They were drawing readers into their growing body of work…with that work…and having a wonderful time doing it. In a world of content abundance, both self and traditionally published authors are being asked to take on more promotional responsibilities. At the same time, book promotion has changed drastically as a result of social media. We are all feeling our way. I think it’s important that to share ideas and best practices with regard to book promotion in the Digital Age. So I hope you’ll pass it on Kathleen. When you commit an act of promotional creativity, please share it with other writers. Can’t wait to see what you do! Have fun!

  6. Funny you should write this article. As part of my book launch, I’m actually launching my book into space!
    For me, humor and fun is not only disarming, it tells your reader you actually enjoy this stuff. So many readers suspect authors write for a popular genre out of a sense of publishing obligation or to make an easy buck. It is great to meet authors who just love this stuff, and actually have fun with it.

    • That’s tomorrow! Are you excited for the big launch? Clever stuff Kevin. Seems like you are having great fun with this. Good for you. Please keep us posted. You can tweet me an update post launch @katmeis. Good luck!

  7. Thank you for this Kathy, such an inspiring piece. Terre runs a wonderful show here altogether! I read your essay a second time this afternoon. It gave me courage to work out pomotional tweets for this week (because my book is about Easter).When I see all the “check out my book” tweets I feel too embarrased to promote my own – not that I’ve ever used that particular phrase. I think it fair to say though, that the better an author is known, the more subtle they can afford to be 🙂 Thank you both.

  8. Trish and Karen — Thank you for your comments. Trish, I just clicked through on one of your tweets. It was beautifully written and intriguing. Pulled me right in. Good luck with the promotion of your book during this key week. I hope your new style of tweeting draws many new readers toward your work. Karen, glad to know thT Colin is as nice as he seems.:-)

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  13. Brilliant, Kathy, and so nicely worded. Our blogs, social media posts, anything we do online to participate or promote really are works of art that should make at least a few others out there want to read more or respond. Well said.

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