I have never been a great self-promoter. I am shy, and I start to mumble and turn red when people ask me about my books. I have an author website, partly because when I read a book I like, I love to go check out the author’s website to learn more about her and any other books she might have written. If she has a newsletter, I sign up for it so I can find out when future books will come out. I assume if anyone else ever likes one of my books, they might want to do the same.
I maintain a blog because I enjoy doing so, but not because I think it will make me rich. I am on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram mostly for fun, but do I think they are a good means of self-promotion? Not exactly. I have never bought a book because of any interaction I’ve had on a social networking site. I’ve also never bought a book because of a promotional bookmark, keychain, or other doodad picked up at a conference.
How do I find new books? I read reviews on Amazon.com, Audible.com, in The Atlantic, The New Yorker, and a few other magazines here and there. I hear books mentioned on NPR. I get recommendations from friends. Also, all those email newsletters I sign up for let me know when my favorite authors have a new book coming out. All these means of finding books depends upon the book being good enough to be recommended by others.
There is only one tried and true method of self promotion: writing the very best books we can write and sending them out into the world to fail or succeed. Then do it again and again and again until we fall over dead clutching a dusty, worn-out keyboard in our gnarled old hands. Sooner or later, we hope we hit on the right book at the right time for the right audience. Maybe we do, and maybe we don’t, but because this one all-important method of self-promotion is so difficult, and because the publishing world is so out of our control, we like to distract ourselves with things we can control:
Blog tours, website makeovers, light-up keychains in the shape of our next release. These things call all be quite fun, but never forget that they are, at heart, distractions from the task at hand, which is always going to be sitting down and the keyboard and writing one sentence, then another and another, forever and ever. The End.
How do you find the books you read? Do you ever buy books based on promotion you see on social networking sites?