This last couple of weeks, there has been a lot of promotion on Ink Spells! Between the Anthology Promoting Breast Cancer Research (see my guest post on PK Hrezo’s blog), the Military Family Giveaway, and the just concluded BlogFest 2011 (Winner is Alison! Congratulations!!), there’s been a lot of giveaways going on here.
Nathan Bransford recently suffered some backlash for promoting his book on his blog, which I think is a bit silly, especially given that the Great NateB is the original Mr. Nice Guy (see corndog on the sidebar). I mean, authors have to promote their work. It’s a part of the business. It can be unpleasant (if you are excessive about it, or obnoxious), but it doesn’t have to be. It can be fun and rewarding and a great way to meet readers, writers, humans, and possibly even cats. (Ok, maybe not the cats.)
The key, in my mind, is making sure you provide some value add to your readers (of your blog, of your book, of your author newsletters), whether it’s entertainment, information, or just a connection where you share something in common. Connection, in my opinion, is the most powerful way to go about it. Because, in the final analysis, that’s what writing is all about: connecting with other people, through your words.
This is true for accomplished writers, as much as for debut novelists.
I love when big time authors like Scott Westerfeld still tour and take time to give his fans a thoughtful presentation as well as a signing. Or mega-hit authors like Suzanne Collins are so gracious when the mobs are lined up for her signature.
My favorite author promotion story is about best-selling mystery writer Michael Connelly, an author I don’t even read. But my mom adores him and stood in line at the LA Festival of books, where Connelly was still putting in the hard work to meet fans and sell books. When the line closed just before her turn, she couldn’t believe her (bad) luck. Another fan walked away with a handful of books and when my mom cast a longing look at the stack, he gave her a signed copy of The Scarecrow, refusing to take payment for his thoughtful gift (thank you anonymous Connelly fan!). As my mom was about to depart, happy to have at least come away with something, the lady handling the event noticed her dejected look and ushered my mom over to meet Michael Connelly personally. He shook her hand and allowed her to gush on and on about his books. My mom is a psychologist. She knows people. She could tell this man was tired, having spent hours greeting fans and signing books. And yet he made a little time for her, a connection she will remember the rest of her life.
Thank you to Michael Connelly for being so nice to my mom! And to all the authors out there, new and veteran: remember that connecting with people, through our writing, through our presence, through the simple human gesture of taking time to shake hands with a long-time fan, even when you’re exhausted … this is what our writing is all about.
You can call it promotion. Or you can think of it as the amazing work we’re lucky to do.