Monday, February 11, 2008

Flying Naked

Maybe the title of this post should be "Not Flying at All." Specifically, August Moon is set for a June release. I can say unabashedly that it's the best mystery I've ever written, with a combination of humor and suspense so sharp that I got jumpy writing it. And I can't get myself off the couch to promote it. I'm burnt out. I'm grounded.

I'm not sold on the idea that an author at a small press can ever do enough promotion to make a living, or even break even. I don't mean this to be a dark post; my publisher is great, and they're making their mark in the mystery world. Also, I love writing, and seeing my books on the shelves where strangers can touch them.
And I'm not looking for people to convince me it's worth it, to keep on going. I'm definitely going to do more writing. Lots of it, in fact, because I'll be promoting less. It's just that I'm going to try a new route, one that I didn't have luxury of doing with my first three novels because I was desperate to be published and under the impression that if I did A, B, and C, that I would be successful (and then I realized there was a D, E, F....).

Here's my plan: I'm going to set up signings at the seven bookstores in Minnesota, Wisconsin, and North Dakota that have consistently supported my work, and I'm going to try to get other authors to co-sign, because as Sue Ann wisely points out, it's more fun and more rewarding to tour with other authors. I'll make sure to email those who've signed up for my newsletter to let them know when the new book is out and where they can find me at. I'm also going to send the promo books Midnight Ink gives me to small reviewers and use them as giveaways that will target and grow my audience, and say "yes" to any bookstores or libraries that ask me to speak.

And that's it.

It sounds really humane, doesn't it? (For any blog readers who are unfamiliar with the world of publishing, the rule of thumb is that an author usually spends at least as much time promoting the novel as s/he did writing it.) The thing is, I have a feeling that my sales for August Moon will be comparable to my previous books--around 5000 copies sold. You could argue that it could be much higher if I did more promotion, and you might be right. Meanwhile, I'll be at my computer writing (and feeling a little guilty).


Keith Raffel said...

You should do well. Guilt is well-known as a catalyst to good writing.

Mark Combes said...


Give it a try - this new marketing plan. Clearly there isn't one right way to do your marketing - otherwise I think we'd all be doing it. You have to see what works for you and that can take some tinkering - and time.

Southern Writer said...

Congrats on the new pub. As much time promoting as writing it? Looks my dance card will be filled for the next five years.

G.M. Malliet said...

Jess - this is certainly timely.

I just heard from my publicist at Midnight Ink, who attached a questionnaire I am certain you are familiar with...full of questions re my own plans for publicity, book signings, blurbs, etc etc.

Just filling out the questionnaire is going to take me several days in order to do it right.

I acknowledge that publicity is my responsibility as much as it is the publishers. But this immediately set off the little whiney voice inside me that says, "But I just want to *write* dang it!"

Anonymous said...

Thank God for Bella Stander, then.

Jess Lourey said...

I had never heard of Bella Stander, but she looks like a gifted book reviewer:

Alas, she hasn't picked up August Moon to my knowledge, so she won't be much help.

G.M., I know exactly the form of which you write. I also see the purpose of them and agree that we have to be self-promoters in this business, but my whiny voice has gotten too loud to ignore. :)

I wonder if we should have two theme months on this blog--one where each other blogs on their best promotional idea, and one month where we all give tips for getting published...

Southern Writer, you have a beautiful eye. :) The thing about promotion, in my experience, is that although it is as time-consuming as writing, it is also more tangible and time-sensitive and so it's more likely that you'll spend those 200 hours promoting all in a period of a couple months.