Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Before You Compete

As the sound of applause dies down, you watch her glide off the ice. She flashes a quick grin at her coach, who throws his arms around and says in a gruff Russian accent, "You were wonderful. You've never skated better."

Shrugging, you head out onto the ice. The Olympic crowd stills, and you sense the anticipation in the air. You focus to get yourself in the zone, and listen as the first notes of  your song, your music burst forth, and the judges lean forward. Suddenly, you are struck by a thought, "I wonder if I should have practiced this routine first."

Unrealistic, perhaps, but a surprising number of authors put in the months and years of effort to write and polish, submit and wait, and never think about the next step. Even with a publishing contract from a top publishing firm, if you are so skilled and persistent and lucky as to get one, you are the only person who is 100% committed to the unique goal of getting your book to sell.

You need to promote. Promote your book. Promote yourself. You are the biggest single asset or deterrent to the marketing of your personal brand. And you don't have a lot of time, because if your book doesn't sell quickly, that top publishing house is going to move on to the "next big thing" and your book is headed for the remainders bin.

Seriously, you want to jump out into the arena, skate out onto the thin ice of publicity, without even practicing? You either have nerves of steel or a head of rock. You need to build an audience, facilitate the growth of a network of people who share even a smidgen of your passion for your book, but even that may not be enough.

I have a suggestion. Try out your mad skills on a book that isn't so important to you. Pick an author you know and like, and try publicizing their book. Even if you make mistakes, the author will likely appreciate the support (and might even be willing to reciprocate when it's your turn). As you go, you'll gain confidence, maybe try with another author or two. Soon, the process will be old hat, and when you get out on the ice, you'll do it without any second thoughts.

Get out there and find a book to promote. Your book will love you all the more for it.


  1. What a fun idea! Got a book I can promote for ya?

  2. Thanks, Tanya, but I'm still shivering on the edge of the rink and cheering on other authors. I bet we can find some deserving authors out there to practice on. I'm getting more comfortable with it, and hope to be truly ready by the time it is my book launch.

  3. Saw your post on our crusader yahoo thread. I came to follow. I love promoting books. I hope that when I am published writers will promote me. I guess it's kind of a, "what goes around comes around," thing. Great post. :-)