Happy Halloween, everyone! Today, I’ve decided to share my biggest fear: that my book will come out and no one will read it, and I’ll only have myself to blame because I failed to promote it the way I should. But wait, let me start at the beginning….
When my book sale was first announced, a lot of non-writer people asked me, “When’s your book coming out?” I would inwardly cringe, then perkily respond, “Fall, 2012.”
“What?” they’d cry. “That’s years away.” Their eyes would glaze over, like they were beginning to wonder about my sanity. Was I making this all up, anyway?
I’d mention some of the things I knew about why the process took so long, from revision to proofreading to cover art to publicity. But in my heart, I’d ask myself, “Yeah, why?”
To this date, I know little about the mysteries of what goes on behind the scenes at my publisher’s office. I keep meaning to make that call and see if I can get them to lay out their Plan of Action. Especially now that my book is only a year out.
Speaking of a year out, with the start of the countdown clock, my excitement level about my book has gone way up. A year is a tangible chunk of time. I no longer inwardly cringe when people ask me about my release date. After months of so little going on that it all seems unreal, the activity is beginning to pick up: my editor has asked for an author photo to show at a sales meeting; we’ve now completed two revisions and some tweaks; she has my acknowledgements page; and, at long last, my book is graduating to the line edit stage. (Oh my gosh, that sentence was complicated to write and I wonder if I got the colon and semicolons right? Anyone?) I also know, vaguely, that some people somewhere are doing some serious pontification on my cover art.
Meanwhile, back at home, I can suddenly hear a low level buzz. Opportunities are starting to come in: I now have a tutoring job for a very talented 12-year-old who writes her own middle-grade books; I’ve taught a week writing workshop for teens; I’ve spoken to SCBWI people about being on a debut panel at a conference next fall; and our School of the Arts has asked me to speak to the high school creative writing class. (Oh my gosh, what is it with me and semicolons today?)
This is just what I wanted and dreamed would happen, but, like always, here comes the neurotic side, saying, “Wait! Your book comes out in a year? That’s almost no time when it comes to pre-release marketing. You have to get going, as in N-O-W! Start visiting Goodreads. Arrange blog tours. Find someone to make a book trailer. Look into getting a publicity person. Set up speaking arrangements at book fairs….” And that’s when I realize how little I know about marketing my own book. To make matters more confusing, I’ve been reading blogs about how word of mouth is pretty much an organic occurrence and that the writer has only a limited ability to generate sales, despite many of us devoting hours daily to our websites or personal blogs or visiting Twitter and Facebook three times a day.
I know I have a huge education ahead of me as I start to count down this final year before release. I have so many questions about what I should or should not bother doing. It seems that our technology explosion has made the world of marketing so much more complex for authors than it was twenty years ago. There is so much you can do in the age of Internet, and I am finding it daunting to wrap my mind around the options. I grew up with the assumption that having a book published meant that writers would only be expected to spend more time in the writing cave, creating new works to keep their audience happy. And while, logically, this still seems like a sound idea, I can’t help but think that’s nowhere good enough anymore. I am beginning to worry that the marketing beast will take over my life, leaving me little time to write the next book.
I am excited. And I am lost. And I am scared. And I am excited. Because now the book feels real, and with that comes the responsibility to do what I can to assure that I’m not a “One Hit Wonder.” On the other hand, the best way to be a “One Hit Wonder” is to stop creating stories that make a difference. The question is, how to find the balance?