Self Promotion

I had coffee with Ingrid Ricks a few weeks after our recent interview. Hippie Boy, her memoir, was initially self-published. Ingrid is not daunted by the idea of hard work, and once she’d published Hippie Boy she set about learning how one gets reviews on the best blogs, and how to time raising and lowering the price of your book, plus many other things as well, all of which led to her indie published memoir hitting the New York Times bestseller list and netting her a contract with Berkley. “This is a great time to be an author,” she concluded. Which got me thinking about Deb Caletti, who, after publishing eleven YA novels, was asked by Random House if she’d like to write an adult literary novel, to which she answered, “You bet!” This was a dream fulfilled for her, and during our conversation I asked her about promoting this book she had been waiting all her life to see published. What’d you do? I asked. “Nothing,” she replied. “I’m writing the next book. And this book is selling better than any other book I’ve published. I’ve learned that when a publisher like Random House really wants a book to do well – assuming it’s any good – it will do well.”

Which got me thinking about Andre Dubus. His books do well, to be sure, but Andre always goes on tour, where he does lots of interviews, and gives lots of lectures and answers lots of questions. He only recently got a website, which he largely ignores. Good luck finding him on Facebook. I’m not sure if he even knows what a tweet is.

Which got me thinking about John Green, who also goes on tour, but who has an extremely popular YouTube page and over one million Twitter followers. During his interview he told Brian Mercer, “I do Twitter because I get Twitter; I don’t do Facebook because I don’t get Facebook.”

All of these four very different approaches to book promotion have one thing in common: they are a match to the writer whose book is being promoted. Ingrid is a go-getter and enjoys having her own business; Deb just wants to write; Andre loves to lecture and answers questions; John is an entertainer and, apparently, a prolific tweeter. Just as you should write what you love, so too you should promote as you love. Saying there is only one way to promote is like saying there is only one way to write a book, which is like saying there is only one way to be a person. Write like you, promote like you, and be like you – that is the only formula for success.


Write Within Yourself: An Author's Companion. "A book to keep nearby whenever your writer's spirit needs feeding." Deb Caletti.

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