For the “Nabokov in Two Years” Goodreads Group, I’m currently reading Despair, which so far is highly enjoyable and the first book since King, Queen, Knave that I’ve gotten excited about. (Although Lolita is still the current all-time Nabokov favorite.) Once I finish Despair, the next book on my list is Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking by Susan Cain. This is a book that I’ve been anticipating since I heard about its publication. I’m an introvert big-time; in every instance in which I’ve taken the Myers-Briggs personality test, since the first time in high school, I’ve always fallen heavily toward I and away from E.
When I’m in the writing phase, I’m happiest, deep inside my own head, pushing the rest of the world away for that small amount of time in which people I’ve created from my own brain walk around and talk to other invented people and get into trouble and fall in love. When the writing is flowing, it’s almost like I’ve entered a meditative space and the world falls away. Entering that space recharges me (and apparently, my dopamine levels), just as reading a good book does, or sitting in a darkened movie theatre, or leaning against a tree gazing up at the clouds.
But, when one is lucky and talented and perseverant enough to have one’s writing published and then scrutinized by the reading public, one must publicize the work. And this is a problem for introverts. The whole interacting-with-other-people bit is exhausting for us, and especially so when trying to promote our own creative endeavors. It would be so much easier to just make an announcement on Facebook and/or Twitter about the new book, just one, and then huge masses of people will know about it, and buy it, and enjoy it, and recommend it to their friends, and push it on their coworkers, and then Jason can sit back and eat Tim Tams all day. But the world doesn’t work like that (especially the part about the Tim Tams; they’re delicious but wow, the calories!), and most working writers today, whether they’re published by a large house or a small press, have to take on a considerable portion of publicity for their book.
Dora Goss tackled this subject about a week ago, and it’s gotten me thinking a lot about how to handle publicity. Dora is also a proud introvert (if such a description exists), but she has several things going for her book The Thorn and the Blossom:
- The book has an interesting gimmick; subtitled “A Two-Side Love Story,” it’s published accordion-style, so that, read one way, you get one character’s POV, and read the other way, you get the second character’s POV. The whole story can’t be gained by just reading one side, and the narratives interlock in interesting ways. The design aspect is highly appealing and unusual here, and requires the strong command of the writer to pull it off.
- Dora is an amazing writer. She’s in the top-five of my favorite writers working in Fantasy today. Her background in poetry lends her prose a mythic resonance, and I fall in love with each of her stories whenever I read them. She’s won the World Fantasy and Rhysling Awards, and been nominated for countless others, and has steadily been building a fan base since she’s started publishing.
- She’s also a thoughtful and prolific blogger. She devoted herself to blogging nearly every day in 2011, and has covered a wide range of topics with both keen observation and openness toward discussion with her commenters. This has built an overlapping audience who value her accessibility and her regularity.
- Have you seriously not bought The Thorn and the Blossom yet? What are you waiting for?
So what about me? Red Dot Irreal was published in October 2011, so the shiny newness is starting to fade. (And according to a publicist commenting at Dora’s site, I should have been coming up with a publicity plan at least six months to a year before publication.) I gave readings at the Singapore Writers Festival and at BooksActually, but my accessibility outside of Singapore is limited. I blitzed Twitter and Facebook, but in my eagerness may have overdone it a tad. I’ve sent the book to reviewers, and am hoping to see some press soon. But I should have been doing far more.
Contest giveaways are a big way to promote, but before the POD edition was available through Lulu, I had to worry about nigh-prohibitive shipping costs from Singapore. I could have organized interviews, or blog-tours, but again, until the book was available in the US, many people who might have wanted to get the book wouldn’t have been likely to front the money to have the book shipped from overseas. The e-book launched at the same time as the Singapore publication, but the response there has been fairly quiet too.
These are all things that I’m dealing with in retrospect, and will improve for next time (granted there is a next time), but here are some things that you, my intelligent and beautiful readers, can do to help right now:
- Consider rating the book at Goodreads, and posting a short review. Goodreads is probably the most influential book-related social network right now, and if a book page shows a good number of reader reactions, it can help to gauge interest and possibly nudge a passer-by into trying the book for herself. Whether you own the paperback or the e-book, reader reviews are important there.
- If you’ve read the e-book, you can cross-post your review to whichever site you downloaded it from: Smashwords, Studio Circle Six, Weightless Books, Apple iBooks, B&N Nook, Kobo, or Diesel. (You can also buy the e-book from Goodreads.) E-books are a growing juggernaut, and the more people aware of the book through these various outlets, the better.
- If you were scared off by the price of ordering the book from Singapore, think about ordering it from Lulu.com. Hand to heart, the POD paperback edition looks fantastic, almost indistinguishable from the original offset-printed book, and at a much cheaper price for folks outside Singapore. Then, if you dig it, you can write a short review for the book page there (and then cross-post it to Goodreads).
- If you run or write for a book-review blog, email me and I’ll send you a code to download the DRM-free e-book gratis. If your blog is highly trafficked or if you write for a newspaper or magazine, I can also mail you a review copy of the POD edition. If you’re so inclined, you can link to your review on Facebook or Twitter, and if you email me the link, I’ll give a thankful signal boost in those places, and also here at the blog.
- If you really dug the book and want to go that extra mile to help others also find it, you can recommend the book personally to your friends, loved ones, book club, etc. Nothing piques a person’s interest in a book like an enthusiastic devotee! (And if your book club wants to read the book and then invite me to talk about it, there may be ways to do so involving Skype or Google+ Hangouts.)
Any and all pimpage efforts will be greatly appreciated. The goal here is to enable as many people as possible to enjoy the book. And please, if you have any other tips or learned experience, share it in the comments and spread the wealth of knowledge!
* Blog title and publicity suggestion list lovingly pinched from Dora. Apologies!