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.”
Then, 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:
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 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 http://www.serendipitestudios.com, and check out Pappus, the revolutionary eTool that lets authors blog directly from their books.
Please join the discussion below