Absolute Beginners

September 26th, 2004 · No Comments
by Booksquare

We imagine there are first-time authors out there who sell their books, negotiate their contracts, undergo the editing process, build websites, acquire agents, and stare at their first covers without us. But not Jill. She has helpfully included us in every moment of her first book experience. Even when she knows full well that calling us at the crack of (our) dawn never works — we’re the oldest of seven…we’ve ignored louder, more irritating things than ringing phones.

Jill has remained our friend despite our differences when it comes to the most basic beliefs. When confronted with a choice to purchase off-the-rack or try that do-it-yourself thing, we always (always!) choose the former. Jill plunges headlong into the latter. Yes, yes, we know — how is it that we’ve spent years with this woman, and she hasn’t seen the beauty of laziness? Even when it comes to promotion, Jill’s out there, working hard. We would have hocked the iPod and hired a publicist. But we’re extremely shy — she’s our opposite there, too.

Yesterday, we received our copy of Jill’s promotion-preparation schedule for this weekend (yes, this is the stuff she has to do before she starts actual promotion). Our tasks were highlighted so we couldn’t miss them. Jill’s not alone in her efforts; for authors at a certain level, there’s not a lot of publisher marketing dollars. It makes us wonder: given their investment, why don’t publishers put a little more into publicity for individual (or, heck, groups of) books?

Jill’s done her research and has heard from her peers about the value of self-promotion. As a Harlequin author, she can expect, pretty automatically, a certain level of sales from regular purchasers of her line. She’s put her energy into certain high value areas: a website (our pride when she coded her first line of HTML…well, it can’t be described), building name recognition, coming up with cost-effective promotion ideas (free iTunes). Also it doesn’t hurt that a television and motion picture character had a similar name. Lots of visitors from misspellings.

She’s not hesitant to invest time or resources into promotion. Her fellow authors note self-promotion for Harlequin authors isn’t really necessary. We say, you don’t have to have an agent either, but it sure doesn’t hurt, and probably gives you an edge. But how much and how will she know it’s working?

So after a day of playing technical support, legal support, and general irritant, we realize we’ll never be prepared for self-promotion. We are, however, really good at picking inappropriate songs from iTunes. And we’re realizing we know less about self-promotion than we did when we crawled out of bed this morning.

File Under: Square Pegs