Does Self-Promotion Feel Like a Losing Battle?

Along with a host of other local authors, I just finished participating in DetroitBookFest, at historic Eastern Market. The weather, although far too hot, was cooperative. It didn’t rain, I sold seven books and thought it was a good event.

I’ll also be in attendance, with other local authors, signing books near the library at Sterlingfest on July 28.

On August 7, 2018, I’m going to be reading from one of my books at Grey Wolfe Scriptorium in Clawson, Michigan, and my greatest fear is having to say, on August 8, that I read to an empty bookstore.

It happened to me once before, a few years ago. I won’t mention the bookstore (it’s now out of business), but not even my wife showed up for that one. In all fairness, it was a miserable, snowy day, and she had left on a plane bound for Florida to visit our grandkids.

The snowstorm got worse and I think it took me longer to drive to that local bookstore a few miles away than it did for her to go the 1200 miles to West Palm.

There were supposed to be two other authors with me but, in that near blizzard, only my intrepid sister-in-law, my son and the store owner showed up. Needless to say, we all left early.

It wasn’t exactly the highlight of my career.

Self-promotion in a Nutshell
Promotional events can be awful, even when they go well. Sometimes you don’t sell anything at all, in a packed house. Yet, as painful as it is to put yourself out like that with no tangible return, self-promotion is an essential part of building up your writing career.

I’ve been doing it long enough now to realize no single event, tweet or blog post will sell a significant number of books. It may not get you any attention at all. But, if you keep doing it, all those seemingly unhelpful things will … slowly but surely … build you a platform.

I already have thousands of followers to this blog, and to my Twitter posts. I’ve also had millions of visitors to my author’s web site, but I discovered a long time ago there is no one-to-one relationship between any of the numbers. I almost never see a measurable bump in sales from an individual self-promotion effort.

Let me say that again: no individual thing I’ve ever done has had a noticeable impact on sales. Not readings, signings, conference panels, interviews or blogs.

So Why Do Any of It?
You may not sell a lot of books as a direct result of a single promotion but, believe it or not, what you will accomplish is more important. You will build a brand and forge a relationship with potential readers.

What you’re trying to do with your self-promotion effort is define who you are for potential fans … and you do that by entertaining them. For free. Because that’s the deal.

Just because someone doesn’t buy a book at that moment, doesn’t mean a good experience with you won’t convince them to buy your book later.

People don’t mind if you let them know you have written a book and yes it’s for sale … but they don’t want to be hit over the head with it every five seconds. Be friendly, find out what what they like to read, and tell them about your books that come close. Let them know about you, and why you wrote something.

The heavier you lean on “buy my book” the less effective your promotion will be.

But, if you keep at it, you can build a community of fans who will turn out to be the best advertising you can ask for … earned media, or word-of-mouth … people who enjoyed the moment you spent talking to them and who will recommend your work.

Reach Out
I also always feel privileged to join other local area writers at events. For support, inspiration and evaluation, there’s nothing more valuable than finding a good writing group in your area.

A very successful one that I belong to is the local Freelance Marketplace Writers’ Group, hosted by Michael Dwyer, that meets every month at Barnes & Noble in Rochester Hills.

Also, submit your work often. Both for publication and for contest review. You may get a lot of rejections, but you might make some important connections. When you do get a work accepted or picked for an award, don’t be shy. Brag about it on social media!

A writers’ conference is another way to learn about the craft. It’s also a way to meet new writers at the same stage as you.

I attend the local Rochester Writer’s Conference at Oakland University (also coordinated by Michael Dwyer). I’ve never missed one of his fall conferences, and I plan on being there again this coming October. I always learn something.

If you’re in the area, come on out and try it. You may discover writing is not the solitary activity it sometimes feels like.

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Gentle Readers, my books have all garnered some terrific reviews. You can see all of them by using the Amazon link below. Check them out. Better yet, buy one and read it. You just might like it.

buy now;

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You’re invited to visit my author’s website, BROKEN GLASS to hear the remarkable radio interview about my novel “Blood Lake” on The Authors Show. You can also like my Book of Face page, find me on Goodreads, or follow my shorter ramblings on The Twitter.

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On March 1, 2018, Rochester Media started publishing my articles about writing. The column will update about every three weeks. Take a look, leave a comment and let me know what you think.

On Tuesday, July 17, 2018 I will be attending the Freelance Marketplace Writers’ Group meeting at Barnes & Noble in Rochester Hills.

On Saturday, July 28, 2018, as I mentioned above, I plan to participate in a book-signing somewhere near the library during Sterlingfest, in Sterling Heights, Michigan.

On Tuesday, August 7, 2018 I will be reading an excerpt from my award-winning short-story collection “Zebulon” at the Grey Wolfe Scriptorium in Clawson, Michigan.

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Comments posted below will be read, greatly appreciated and perhaps even answered.

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6 Responses to “Does Self-Promotion Feel Like a Losing Battle?”

  1. Ed Maekowski Says:

    you most definitely deserve respect and credit for your total immersion into the whirlpool of words. what you do takes
    an incredible amount of energy. your investment is truly
    remarkable.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Gabriella L. Garlock Says:

    I can’t even imagine that phase of being a writer yet–I haven’t started querying. This is stuff difficult for shy people! Then again I said that about teaching, and loved it.
    Lucky to have those Rochester Writers resources–I attended my first conference there this year and will be back.
    Best of luck.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Mary Hackstock Says:

    Ron, another interesting, and just “nice” post. Always enjoy reading. You always give good advice…but, more than that, a kindly and friendly advice to writers.

    Liked by 1 person

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