More often than not writers—particularly writers at the beginning of their career—are largely responsible for their own promotion. Because Author is in part another platform for the great book promotion engine, I have spent a lot of time lately looking at how authors, both emerging and established, deal with this part of the business of being a writer, and have arrived at the conclusion that the rules for good relationships apply to good promotion—namely, be generous.
The number one platform for writers is the writer website. Here readers are likely to learn a bit about the author’s biography, where they will be appearing, perhaps watch or listen to a short interview, and, of course, be given an opportunity to purchase the author’s books. Nothing wrong with any of this, but in the end there is nothing on these sites for the visitor other than to learn about the writer. The best author websites are those that give something for free, with nothing expected in return. Most likely this comes in the form of advice about writing or the subject about which the author is most knowledgeable. By offering something for free, you let your prospective readers know you are as interested in their well being as you are in your own, and trust that all you give will come back to you in time.
Another common vehicle, especially lately, is the promotional video. These are short ads for the new book, often filmed similarly to movie promos. Many of these videos have very high production values, with original scores and tightly edited sequences. Still, in the end a commercial is a commercial. How do you give something to the audience when the point of your video is to induce them to buy your book?
This is the question my wife and I asked ourselves when we produced such a video for her first children’s book, Violet Bing and the Grand House. Our answer was to create a piece that would be interesting whether anyone had read the book or would ever read the book. In short, make it entertaining in and of itself.
Obviously, we wanted people to buy the book, but when making the video we tried to forget the fact that it was an ad and treat it as a short film, thus giving something to the viewer. Whether you’re writing a book or promoting it, you’ve got to trust. You’ve got to trust that what you have to say is worth reading to someone beside yourself, and you’ve got to trust that by showing the world you are first willing to give, you will in the end receive.