Monday, April 23, 2007

The P Word

"Marketing takes a day to learn. Unfortunately it takes a lifetime to master."
~Philip Kotler

Did you guess what the P word is?

Well, for this fledgling writer, it’s the dirty little secret no one in the publishing biz tells you about until someone offers you a contract:


Ah, yes. We aspiring writers slave away at our keyboards, waiting to be discovered as the next brilliant author, the next best-seller, only to find that we should probably be spending some of that precious time building a name for ourselves.

I know that the big New York houses do it all, in terms of promotion, for their authors--and that’s terrific. But for the rest of us, we’re suddenly thrust into this big sea to flail about and find our fins before the waves drag us and our brand new novel straight down to the bottom without it ever seeing the light.

I never realized how much was involved in getting one’s name out there, and it’s daunting, to say the least. I’m supposed to create a “brand,” a slogan that captures the essence of my writing in a witty phrase that can be splashed onto every business card and bookmark I make.

I’m supposed to find time to join chat groups, post on forums, send out newsletters and sponsor contests, all in the name of letting a few more people know who I am.

It’s exhausting.

And honestly, I’m finding that I simply don’t have the time to do half that stuff. I know I need to promote myself, and I’ll do my best. In fact, I even ordered my first shipment of business cards, from Vista Print. (I’ll let you know how I like them.) And there’s a few sites I’ve found that offer helpful advice without becoming overwhelming: Promo-Ho is one of them.

But rather than spend hours posting to a chat group or fishing through responses on a forum, I’ll spend my time updating this blog and working on my latest novel.

Because honestly, what good is all that promotion if you don’t have the time to write a book for the faithful fans you’ve created?


Sonja Foust said...

Thanks for the plug Allie! Good luck with your promo, but remember always to think about your Return On Investment. If it takes you 40 hours to do some piece of promo, and you're spending that time promoting instead of writing, is it worth it? Don't get too carried away with promo and, like you said, focus on the writing!

Diane Craver said...

You're right, Allie. I got very overwhelmed with all this book marketing. I did so many chats and other promo things to get my name out there to the readers, and found I didn't have time left to write. I'm trying to stay focused on my writing these days with the exception of one chat I decided to do this week.

As always I enjoyed your post! And glad you're focusing on your writing so you'll continue to have books to promote when you can fit it in your schedule!

Anonymous said...

I feel much the same and it took my husband to stop me in my tracks. I was focusing (and worrying) about the whole promotion/marketing thing, and found I wasn't getting much writing done. He reminded me that if I didn't write, I'd have nothing to promote anyway. Wise man. Sometimes we need to be reminded of the basics.

Tricia Jones said...

Oops, sorry. That last post was me.

Wow! said...


What a great post... and, I have the answer to all your questions starting May 1st. WOW! is doing an issue entitled, "The Wings of Self-Promotion." We've interviewed top professionals in the industry to solve all your problems of promotion and give you the wings to fly! These ladies have got the promotion thing down pat and are offering their free advice. :-)

On a separate note: for business cards, I've been using a printer out here in SoCal for years. They're super inexpensive and the quality is great. I believe, they're only 15-20% above wholesale. Check them out online:

I just sent some cards to one of our interns and she said they turned out great! Their turn-around time is in 3 days, so it's handy when you find yourself able to attend a sudden conference. Let me know how the vistaprint thing works out for you... I've always been curious.

Yours in writing,


Allie Boniface said...

Angela, I can't wait to see that issue of WOW! I'm sure I''ll be hanging on every word...

Anonymous said...

Ali, your Promo comments are enlightening and helpful.

Your reference to expectations and pressures involved with the promotional side of writing in not something I'd given much thought to. And how do you manage (and are you really expected to..) cover all bases?

I certainly will look into the link you give. It's all one big learning curve :-)

Many of us who may have been diverted by the Promo-train will appreciate your helpful and necouraging comments.

Michael said...

vista print is cool but i have to say that when i tried out PrintsMadeEasy i was really impressed...something to check out for yourself maybe :)