What does it mean to promote a book in 2011? What can/should an author expect from a publisher when they get signed?
At a bare bones minimum, I'd expect a publisher to:
1) Make the book for sale on its website
2) Get the word out about the book on social media
3) Send copies to reviewers
Ideally, I'd add these others:
4) Get the word out about the book through an e-mail newsletter using e-mails it farmed (i.e. not renting a list)
5) Arrange blog tours, book signings and interviews.
6) Send out press releases to media outlets.
From the author's perspective, a publisher never promotes enough (or at all). From the publisher's perspective, authors should shoulder the majority of the promotion.
Thus, an immovable object meets an unstoppable force.
So, 'Spacers, what do you think? What is "promoting" a book in 2011?
Unfortunately, promoting means promoting yourself and your book. If you can find a good hook to do it, all the better. So here's my latest pitch on a guest blog article posted today
May it serve to inspire you!
I agree that publishers have primary responsibility for promotion of a novel. But what about the authors? What, as authors, are we prepared to put out to promote our work? I've got my first novel coming out later this year, and although my publisher ticks all the boxes as far as promotion is concerned, they expect the author to do likewise. I have no problem with that. I want my book read by as many people as possible. And if that means traipsing round bookshops and libraries, tapping up all sorts of leads, I'mmore than happy to do that. As B.R., and others have mentioned, the electronic media is a massive resource where this is concerned. Just got to be careful on the overkill.
It's a whole new world out there . . . :)
One of the key components to promotion is time. Another, simply put, is money.
We need to accept the fact that publishers are not going to promote every book they put out any more than Walmart is going to promote every single product it sells in its stores. Everyone says it is the publisher's responsibility to promote the books, but clearly their actions state something different.
I was called not long ago by a guy who was self-publishing a book. He spoke at length about Konrath's efforts, and concluded by saying, "so I know it can be done on the cheap." The conversation went south after that and I refrained from my two-word response when he told me his budget. However, his "observation" of Konrath's efforts stuck with me.
When people point to Konrath as an example of how to self-promote, they aren't stopping to think about the incredible amount of time he puts in to self-promotion. As a full-time writer, he may have that ability, but do the rest of us? Can we go to our day jobs, come home, have dinner, kiss the honey, play with the kids, and still put forth a Konrathian effort to promote our books?
Even with his traditionally published books, Konrath spent substantial time and monies promoting himself (self-unded bookstore tours, mailings to thousands of libraries, hosting open bars at conferences, having tons of handouts, etc.).
And without that effort, how do you expect your self-published e-book to rise above the crowd?
I'm not trying to be negative, as there are certainly some e-publishing success stories, but I do believe that going forward, promotion is going to be defined by one simple question: How much time and/or money are you, the author, willing to invest?
The thing with professionals, whether they be athletes, musicians or authors, is that they make it look easy. Konrad is a full-time, professional author. His fans are night-time authors still hitting singles in the minor leagues.
That's always been my problem with Konrath horn-tooters. Just because he's doing everything online and on his own doesn't mean it's easy. It's hard work.
What's ironic is that Konrath's horn-tooters miss his point. I've heard him speak and read his blog. He'll be the first person to tell you his results are not to be expected, in large part because he already had a platform, that, to his credit, he worked 25 hours a day to establish.
Those who do well in e-books with no past performance to go on all share unique circumstances that make them less than feasible role models for the overwhelming majority of writers. Expecting to make a good living by self-publishing an e-book is not dissimilar to kids who know, just know, they're going to play in the NBA/NFL/MLB. It looks far easier then it is because you only see the successes. No one remembers, or ever hears about, the others.