Why You Should Help Sell Your Book

Every time I post anything about building a platform, blogging, or creating an online presence, I inevitably get a few grumbles and complaints about why this is necessary. Some people want proof that all these activities can actually sell books. I also get “what-if” and “but-I” and every possible argument from writers who don’t want to do this.

Well, here’s the thing. If you manage to get a contract with a mainstream commercial publisher for your first book, that’s awesome. But if your book doesn’t go on to have strong sales to consumers, your publishing career could be over. Just that quick. Even if your publishing career isn’t over at that point, it’s definitely handicapped, and you might have to work even harder than you did with your first book to sell a second one to a publisher.

In the golden days of publishing, it was common for publishers to put a book out there, then expect it to slowly build. They’d allow time for readers to find it. Even if a first book didn’t sell very well, publishers took the long view of an author, understanding that it might take two or three books for readers to find them. They’d stick with that author and build them over time. But today it’s rare to get that kind of treatment. We don’t have the luxury of “waiting” for an author to find an audience.

There are exceptions. Occasionally there’s a writer that the publishing house believes in so strongly that they’ll put out a second and even a third book, despite poor sales, especially if it was a multi-book contract to start with. Hopefully by then, the sales will begin to meet the publisher’s expectations. If not… doom.

In general… the latest wisdom from the current publishing industry is this: It’s easier for a first-time, never-published author to sell a book to a publisher than it is for an author who’s had a book that tanked.

What’s the definition of “tanked?” It depends on what the publisher’s expectations were to begin with. Your book could sell 75,000 copies, but if the publisher projected 150k, the book may be seen as a failure. Or, your book could sell 20k, but the publisher expected 12k so you are considered very successful, and they’ll want more books from you.

What’s my point?

In this environment, wouldn’t you want to do everything humanly possible to drive up the sales of your own book? I’m talking about sales to the end-user, the reader purchasing your book from the bookseller. Wouldn’t you want to be looking at ways that you could find an audience for your book, and at least try to help it fly off the shelves at Barnes & Noble? If your publishing future depends on your sales, it makes sense.

A blog can help you build an audience, but maybe a blog isn’t your vehicle of choice. Maybe you have access to 5,000 people or 50,000 people another way… through an organization you work for, or a newsletter you distribute. It doesn’t matter. The point is, if you want a career as a multi-published author, that first book really needs to sell. It’s in your best interest to find an audience and do what you can to boost sales of your book.

Sure, you could leave all the marketing to your publisher. But then if your book doesn’t sell very well, who are you going to blame? Your publisher, of course. You’d be abdicating your own responsibility and the power you have to impact the sales of your own book.

This article is about Bookscan, but the first paragraph gives a bit of crucial information. A publisher is giving the reason for declining to pick up a third book from an author who has published two highly praised books. “…sales of his two titles have been modest in comparison to the great praise and attention his work has received, and in this economy that’s a very difficult obstacle for us to overcome with our accounts and booksellers.” The point is, publishers base these decisions on previous sales; more importantly, so do booksellers. Even if the publisher picked up a book from this author, the booksellers may decline to carry it. Bummer.

I’ll admit, this isn’t an easy road. But you do have some power, and you get to decide: Help sell your book to consumers, or not. It’s that simple (and that hard).

Rachelle Gardner, Christian Literary Agent, Colorado

Rachelle Gardner

Literary agent at Books & Such Literary Agency. Coffee & wine enthusiast (not at the same time) and dark chocolate connoisseur. I've worked in publishing since 1995 and I love talking about books!

56 Comments

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  7. Jim Miller on November 12, 2009 at 11:18 AM

    >Rachelle,

    Thank you for expressing these truths so clearly. As a marketing rep for primarily first-time authors, I'm saying these things every single day.

    At my publishing company, we take the long view on every author, primarily because it is the only view that works for most first-time authors. We try to focus our authors on making an impact in their niche market locally and in building word of mouth through blogging, posting on others' blogs, freelance writing — essentially, anything that will either establish their names as experts in their fields.

    New authors often have wild expectations of immediate and lasting success. They've seen too many movies. I believe that any author can sell 5000 copies of their book if they work hard enough at it. And that's regardless of bookstores. As you certainly know, if an author sold 5000 copies through their own efforts, it's almost certain that some bookstores will put the book on shelves to meet the demand they've created.



  8. isabeljoelyblack on September 7, 2009 at 4:53 AM

    >Great post, and I agree wholeheartedly.

    I had a conversation with a guy recently with whom I was discussing my promotions business for writers.

    He told me the story of a friend who had been published but only had one book. Now her career is over, because she can't write a second easily and the publisher has lost interest. As a writer himself, he was shocked. It's very easy to think all you need is a deal and you're made. It's not true.



  9. Helen on July 5, 2009 at 5:00 AM

    >Thanks for this blog post –
    It is a common practice for authors to leave the major book publicity to their publishers and only make the occasional blog post here and there to talk about their book. I guess it is boils down to the fear of being accused of bias and selfish plugging of their own work.

    Yes, I do agree that blogs and other social media activities should be used to help publishers and the books fly off the shelves.

    I think you have touched on things that are largely ignored, but can be vital if taken seriously.



  10. Rose McCauley on June 25, 2009 at 9:04 PM

    >Thanks, Jennifer and Rachelle for these thoughts on making our blogs the best they can be. You helped me look at my blog with new eyes, and I plan to make some changes in the days and months ahead. I usually only blog once a week. Is that not often enough? Is this the old quantity vs. quality question?



  11. christa on June 25, 2009 at 1:19 PM

    >Like Joyce, I'm being published by Abingdon, but in the Spring launch. I'm grateful the publishing company is doing so much to promote both the fall and spring launches. We have direct contact with someone in Marketing, and we exchange ideas on a yahoo group we've set up for Abingdon authors.

    Having a support group is comforting and provides a tremendous source of knowledge. We all have different gifts, and those become so apparent in our approaches to marketing. And that's where I'm learning to get out of my comfort zone.

    My book is one of ten in the launch. I can't expect Abingdon to promote my book and leave the other nine behind. But the payoff is, in doing the work for my book, I'm getting the publishing name out, and that benefits us all.

    And, to echo Joyce, it's first about the writing.



  12. D.I. Telbat on June 25, 2009 at 11:03 AM

    >Good advice. Thank you once again!



  13. Glynis on June 25, 2009 at 10:03 AM

    >Another informative and interesting post.
    I have been blogging for a while, and when my novel decided it was going to choose me to write it, I set up an author blog. This was based on a piece of advice from a published author. I use my Scribbles blog for my 'scribbles' and write ads for a company, this earns me a few $ to save for advertising my book, if it happens ($70 so far):). My Author blog, is to share with my treasured fans, who are finding me. To be honest, I expected to have one…my mentor, I now have over 30.
    I am now considering a website and building on that. Your article has made me bring it forward a little more, thanks.
    Oh, sorry I rambled a bit.



  14. Aimee K. Maher on June 24, 2009 at 9:34 PM

    >I would drive from one end of this country to the other in a rusty Chevette with no reverse, a pup tent, and a ramen noodle budget to promote a book if I had to.

    I think that attitude is going to take me one hundred times further than the people who say "What if" and "But I".



  15. Timothy Fish on June 24, 2009 at 9:24 PM

    >Kim,
    I suppose that is somewhat similar to what my used to say. She always said, "Wish in one hand, spit in the other and see which one gets full first." She always attributed it to her own mother. I suppose its good for things to pass from one generation to the next.

    Timothy Fish



  16. Kim Kasch on June 24, 2009 at 6:50 PM

    >I LOVE those simple lessons. It's doing them that can be hard. But Mom always used to say, "Nothing worth having comes easy."



  17. Dawn Herring on June 24, 2009 at 3:10 PM

    >One of the things Christina Katz points out in GET KNOWN BEFORE THE BOOK DEAL is the necessity of offering a specific audience something that they need and want in your field of expertise, where you're providing information that is helpful and informative. Of course, quality writing is essential if you want anyone to read what you've written in the first place.
    Building your platform should be priority in any writer's life. It's a way to connect with your readers and understanding what they need. When you start strong in that area, it will be easier to sell your book once it's been published. It will seem like a natural outcome to all the connecting and establishing you have already done with those who really want what you offer.



  18. careann on June 24, 2009 at 2:12 PM

    >If a chef creates a gourmet meal and then abandons the food in the kitchen without inviting anyone to eat it, doesn't that negate his culinary efforts? Why write a book if we're not interested in doing whatever it takes to ensure readers will find it? If we believe in our work we should be willing to promote it.

    Carol



  19. Lynnda Ell on June 24, 2009 at 1:42 PM

    >Hi Rachelle!

    I have a question. Have you ever looked at a potential client's blog and decided not to offer a contract based on what you found there?

    The reason I asked is because at your party last Friday, several people apologized for what they had written on their blogs. It is difficult for me to understand why a person would post anything on a blog that would require an apology for writing it. Consider me puzzled…

    I also want to tell you another way your blog has been effective. I bought "Snow Melts in Spring" and loved it. I bought it because I know you through your blog. Now I also know that the type of books that you consider good Christian fiction is the kind I enjoy reading. That makes me even more willing to buy the books of other authors you represent.

    Thanks for being such a great blogger role model!



  20. Susan J> Elliott on June 24, 2009 at 1:07 PM

    >I love my platform (blog and seminar teaching) and it led directly to my book which gets promoted on my platform (how circular!)

    I wrote my blog for 2.5 years before the book was published and my readers encouraged the book so I don't feel guilty promoting it in just about every post.

    If you give a lot away (advice, tips, information) on your blog or twitter or website, self promotion is a bit easier. But just saying "buy my book!" can be tough for some people.

    I truly feel as if I have given my blog readers a lot for almost 3 years now. And most of them have bought the book.

    The other thing I have done is donate my book it to DV shelters etc because that is a cause of mine and the book includes "My Story" which includes getting out of a DV situation.

    If one more book gets purchased due to the DV Project, great! But if not, at least I am helping and I think that always comes back to you.

    I've done ProfNet, HARO, and taken out Facebook Ad campaigns. All that is above and beyond what my publisher has done. And most of it is enjoyable (sans the ads) and I've met great people.

    Self-promotion is not as hard as I thought it would be. And a lot of it is fun!



  21. Jessica on June 24, 2009 at 12:56 PM

    >I'm not sure why someone wouldn't want to try to sell their work. I'll be the first to say that I hate sales. When I was in banking, I hated it. When I waitressed, I hated it. I HATE sales.

    But for my stories? I've labored and pained over them. Marketing them, finding my audience, that's all HUGE to me. When I sell a book, I'll be doing everything I can to get the word out.
    Because honestly, there are tons of great books out there that I've never heard of.
    I would have never bought Camy Tang's books if she hadn't done blog tours and given them away. I won one and bought the others. The same for Julie Lessman. Cheryl Wyatt judged my contest entry, and her comments were so kind and helpful that I went to buy her book. The internet as well as face to face meetings definitely boost sales of a well-written book, in my opinion.

    Great post!



  22. Anthony on June 24, 2009 at 12:31 PM

    >Heh, I just made a post about Social Media and Book Purchasing this very morning.



  23. Liesl Shurtliff on June 24, 2009 at 12:24 PM

    >Question: Why do publishing houses give such large advances to debut authors? Isn't that a huge risk even if they do really love and believe in the book? And it seems it can totally destroy the author's career if they don't make back that advance in sales. 75,000 in sales I assume is very respectable but not if those sales didn't earn back the advance. Why do they do this? And why don't agents of new authors worry about large advances?



  24. Timothy Fish on June 24, 2009 at 11:50 AM

    >When I look at what I would like to accomplish, platform is far more important to me than a publishing contract. Platform isn’t just another thing we need to sell that book. Platform is the whole point.

    At the same time, I can understand why authors reach the point of frustration when the topic is brought up. Many authors see publishing a book as a way to increase the size of their platform, so when someone tells them that they must have a significant platform before publication, they begin to see it as an unattainable goal. It is only made worse by suggestions of other things that will increase their platform when they sound more difficult than writing the book. There are also those people who get the impression that if they just had a blog they would instantly have access to fifty thousand people. It is unreasonable to think that distribution of fifty thousand, even five thousand for that matter, can be achieved without significant work or a viral post.



  25. Jennifer @ Conversion Diary on June 24, 2009 at 11:47 AM

    >I've been thinking about this ever since you first mentioned this subject a few months ago. It was just the wake-up call I needed to think about what would happen if my first book came out and it didn't sell well.

    I've often thought that some agent or publisher should start a "publishing boot camp" where aspiring authors spend a week trying to work as an agent or publisher. I think it would help us understand why these things are so important if we actually had to sit down and field queries, decide which books would sell, and ultimately try to make a profit in this notoriously competitive industry.

    Also, for those who find the platform pressure depressing, one way to look at it is that these days it's easier than ever to get *some* audience. It might be harder to get a book published, but anyone, anywhere can start a blog and have at least a handful of loyal readers. In the pre-internet days we didn't have that option: it was either get published or have no audience.



  26. Kate Lord Brown on June 24, 2009 at 11:19 AM

    >Hurray! Thank you Rachelle for the first bit of good news I've read for debut authors in months 🙂



  27. Scobberlotcher on June 24, 2009 at 11:05 AM

    >Excellent, albeit sobering, post. I'm one of those authors who hasn't been a huge success to my publisher, but my book continues to plug along ONLY because of my blog. It was the smartest thing I've done to help my book. (Plus, somedays I let my blog posts count as my word count for the day…cheating, I know, but whaddya going to do?)



  28. Novice Writer Anonymous on June 24, 2009 at 10:55 AM

    >Thanks for all the great information on platforming. It's incredibly helpful. Maybe some of your readers could offer a bit of advice here, but I'm concerned about when to shed my anonymity. The reason I began my blog with the anonymous user name was to allow myself to be freer in my naivete. I know that at some point I will have to shed the anonymous user name and begin with my own name but I am struggling to pinpoint when that should be. Any advice?



  29. CKHB on June 24, 2009 at 10:40 AM

    >(poster previously known as Carrie)

    For anyone who wants to know more about BookScan, here is a great summary by editor Alan Rinzler. (He edited Hunter S. Thompson. 'Nuff said.)

    What You Don't Know About BookScan Can Hurt You



  30. Rick on June 24, 2009 at 10:38 AM

    >Rachelle,

    I've been reading your blog for a while, but this is my first time to comment.

    I received a direct mailing yesterday from an author promoting his book. While it happened to be a self-published book, it is intended to be read by Southern Baptist pastors.

    I was impressed at the lengths (and expense) a person would take to sell his book. While there is a small niche market for it, author promotion is key for this book's success.

    Even though the author has a website, there is no blog and only a link to the Barnes & Noble site for his book. However, since I had never heard of him before, at least he has a web presence to which you may refer.

    I thought this was a good illustration of your point: "wouldn't you want to do everything humanly possible to drive up the sales of your own book?"



  31. Teri D. Smith on June 24, 2009 at 10:17 AM

    >I felt a little like I was jumping the gun to start a web site and begin blogging before I was published. Thanks to you, I know that's not true. It gives me more courage to press on! Thanks.



  32. Rachelle on June 24, 2009 at 10:08 AM

    >Anon 8:24, Unfortunately the assumption was wrong. A query has to FIRST make the agent love the book and see a vision for it. The idea and the writing have to be great. THEN the marketing and platform considerations come into play. Also, be aware that most agents don't care at all about recommendations from others or how many people said you should write a book, or how many people say your book is great. They want to read for themselves and immediately see how good your book is.



  33. Anonymous on June 24, 2009 at 9:24 AM

    >Rachelle from Anon 2:54
    I understand the book proposal itself must win over agents/publishers. I meant… that I assumed my Query letter would get a request to see a proposal from those facts… and other facts like: one of America's best loved best selling Christian authors told me I should write this book , etc.



  34. lynnrush on June 24, 2009 at 9:23 AM

    >I agree with Jason, but then maybe we're BOTH narcissistic. LOL. I LOVE talking about writing, my books, stuff like that….so, that part actually sounds fun, to tell you the truth.

    I've been around ACFW for a while now, and RWA here fora few months, and in just that short of time, I've seen tons of idea on how to promote/market my book, when (if) it gets published.

    I say, "Bring it on!"

    Thanks for this post.



  35. Mary DeMuth on June 24, 2009 at 9:13 AM

    >I wrote a little about the marketing beast over at The Master's Artist yesterday. You can read it here:

    http://aratus.typepad.com/tma/2009/06/the-prayer-and-paradox-marketing-strategy.html

    Keep in mind that writing and the journey to publication is a LONG road with hundreds and thousands of hours of work. It's just a lot of hard work, folks. Some that will pay off. Some that won't.

    And don't forget, too, that your relationship with the marketing department and the sales staff is absolutely crucial. I've neglected that aspect, but am now very aware of how much that has to do with the success of your book.

    Boil it down to this: Relationships. If you can think of marketing and platform as building relationships, some of the unsavory nature of it will wane, and it will become a joy.



  36. Alexis Grant on June 24, 2009 at 9:12 AM

    >Another reason to build your platform: It can be fun!

    Blogging and creating an online presence also helps me stay on track with my goals, reminds me how important it is to continue to learn new things and shows the world what I have to offer.

    Thanks for this post, Rachelle.



  37. Eric on June 24, 2009 at 9:10 AM

    >Great post Rachelle. While I understand the idea behind writers wanting to "just write" and letting the publishers deal with marketing, we have to realize that the book we create is our business. I personally want to make sure that my business is doing well, so that I can continue to be in business. Of course I enjoy writing, and maybe I don't like doing the marketing aspect. But if I want to continue to be a successful author, I need to deal with the harsh realities of the writing industry. Expecting everyone else to take care of my book and get it out there for everyone to buy is almost akin to burying my head in the sand.



  38. Cindy on June 24, 2009 at 9:03 AM

    >Thanks for bringing us the reality again, Rachelle. I am with a small press at this time and wonder what kind of sales would be expected from an agent or larger publisher further down the road.

    Working on platform and marketing strategies has been a daily goal for awhile now but I still have no idea what to expect as far as sales. Would you say agents or publishers would still take a chance on my work in the future based on a well-written book, prior marketing effort and even, well, willingness to continue to build for the future? Or is the largest initial requirement previous sales? Just curious.



  39. JStantonChandler on June 24, 2009 at 9:02 AM

    >Good morning, Rachelle!

    Thank you for, yet again, a very informative post. When I first realized that publishing wasn't like it used to be, I got very defensive about the prospects of having to market my book myself. I'm not a salesman and I hate trying to "push" something on someone. However, after starting my own small business, I have learned something very, very important: No one can sell your work as effectively as you can.

    My book may be the next best thing and the publisher/agent may be head over heels in love with it, but I have the passion that stems from having created it.

    Creative pursuits are stemmed from passion. No one knows our work like we do. No one believes in our work like we should. And there are questions that people may ask that only we can answer.

    I have often thought about questions people may ask about my characters. Background questions, quirky, off the wall questions that only I, the author, would know. I not only wrote the book that is seen in print, but I also have reams of backstory, notes, and research. There are little things that never make it into the final version of our books. Our publishers can never know them.

    Even if everything isn't written out in our notebooks, we hold our characters (and stories) close in our hearts. I'm learning to be more proactive in selling. It's not easy, and it's certainly not comfortable, but it's a necessary evil, if you will, in this industry.

    Thank you for the encouragement and the push that I need to continue forward.

    ~Jennifer



  40. Anonymous on June 24, 2009 at 8:44 AM

    >Are you CALLED? The Old School Speak offers a test: "There are them who were SENT – and then are them who just WENT." After a dozen years of this Midnight Disease, five MS, a Metric Ton of Queries and two published novels, I honestly don't know which I am. Eric Liddell's qualifier is easy for me – 'When I WRITE, I feel His pleasure.' But Platform Building is another sensation. Given it's cyber skating application, it finds my aptitude somewhere between a rock and a toad. Yuck! But I've come to believe a couple of things: 1. Creative Expression is Image Bearing. 2. If I didn't have to Streach my Spirit way beyond my Flesh, I would miss a lot of the Intimacy with Him whose image I bear. Rachelle, I have to tell high school football players that the summer two-a-days, weight room and sprints are not My requirements – they are the requirements of Stated Goals. I happen to love them enough to be willing to tell them the truth. For you to have to impress this on total strangers must be tough. Thanks. Hang in there!



  41. Kathryn Magendie on June 24, 2009 at 8:31 AM

    >I began a blog, and had a website, before I found a publisher for my book. I didn't want to publish the book and then suddenly be in everyone's face "buy my book buy my book!" when they didn't even "know" me!

    My website started with not much: a few published essays, short stories, poetry, some photographs, etc…but it's built into a nice little website now, re-done with the TG stuff.

    I began blogging because an agent at a conference said, "You're crazy if you don't set up a blog…" at first I groaned at this, but, it turned out to be a fun thing. I was able to write, talk about writing, etc etc etc and when TG was out this past spring, I was already "out there" – people were already waiting and watching to see what would happen. I would sometimes post rejection woes, or how frustrated I was, other times I put up excerpts or talked about my mountain walks….now I have two blogs-one more active than the other, and my website, twitter, facebook, library thing, etcetera – the hard part is knowing just where to put the most time and energy…so I am careful – I do have to write the 2nd book!

    I also am looking into Book Fairs, and I donated some books to libraries who didn't have a budget (yet). I'm speaking to a book club soon – book clubs are wonderful! And did a few signings – although those aren't as good for selling books as they may at first seem.

    With a small press, we have a small budget, but one book, one bookseller at a time is what I am doing….unless Oprah calls *laughing!*

    It is hard to promote our books – it's hard to say LOOK AT ME BUY MY BOOK! But, I like taking some responsibility for how well my book does and maybe it will pay off. I love hearing from readers and being a "guest blogger" and doing blogger interviews, etc – it's all a part of it, even when we want to hide, even when we just want to WRITE and not be bothered with all the mess of it! – it does have its nice moments and its frustrations, but if you want to be successful, you have to set aside discomfort and just go for it.



  42. Gwen Stewart on June 24, 2009 at 8:24 AM

    >Rachelle, another great post. When you use words like "bummer" and even "doom", I know you have an important message to impart!

    I want to write for as long as God allows. If it means I must overcome my reticent personality in order to market, so be it. Writing is worth the discomfort of putting myself "out there".

    Your clients' effective, yet genteel marketing techniques are encouraging. Their web presence convinces me that books can be sold without bluster or over-assertiveness. I worried about that when I started learning about platform, because it's not in my nature to foist my work upon people and proclaim my "greatness" (please note the quotations). Your clients and other great writers reassure me that marketing can be done with humility.

    Happy writing today, everyone!



  43. Krista Phillips on June 24, 2009 at 8:18 AM

    >"Your first priority is to write…"

    I LOVE THAT! It isn't saying that platform/marketing should not be A priority, just not the first one:-)

    As a novelist, I have NO problem marketing my book once it comes out. Okay, so I'm not huge into public speaking, other than that, I'm all for it. I think its senseless the thought of just sitting back, crossing your fingers, and hoping they sell to goodness your books sell.

    For now I blog and do the whole social networking thing, but beyond that, my focus is my writing.



  44. Aimee K. Maher on June 24, 2009 at 8:12 AM

    >Excellent post.



  45. Jeanette Levellie on June 24, 2009 at 8:01 AM

    >Rachelle: We can always count on you to give us a dose of reality along with your cheer leading.

    You must be an awesome mom!
    Jen



  46. John M. UpChurch on June 24, 2009 at 7:45 AM

    >In some ways, this makes me less nervous about selling my book to a publisher . . . and more nervous about selling it to consumers. I actually enjoy thinking up creative ideas for promotion, but even with promotion, I know it doesn't guarantee success.

    But if I'm going to spend so much time writing and prepping a book, it doesn't bother me to do work to sell it. It's all about writing great books that people want to read—and tell other people about. And I want to help make that easy, which is why I've started on a growing a platform and have some ideas for using Twitter to create an "event" and not just a book.

    Thanks for the blunt facts, Rachelle.



  47. Lori A. May on June 24, 2009 at 7:27 AM

    >Rachelle, I really enjoy your blog. You have such great material on here for writers (and readers!) and I love coming back for more.

    This post was spot-on for me. Regardless of whether or not an author feels they have (or need) a platform, no one can argue the need to promote one’s own work. It should be second nature, following the act and craft of writing. Otherwise, if a book is published in the forest but not promoted – does anyone really read it? As authors, we owe it to our books (and our families who put up with writing-cave behavior for months on end) to be out there, in whatever form we choose.

    Online connections, social networking, brick and mortar appearances, book club interaction, coffee house blitzing… each writer may have their own path, but it has to be done on some level.

    One of the things I related to in your post was the emphasis on continual marketing. I have to say, yes, it is more work after you publish. Until then, you hope for the best, focus on writing, and cross fingers to get The Call. But once that phone rings… you better have your strategic plan in motion. My platform is complicated, with two category novels under my belt and a large portion of literary works (poetry, freelance, etc) constantly on the go, which means I have to work very different angles and make it all work somehow. Or at least hope it works!

    I just started a new blog, having moved away from an older one years ago, and I know these things take time to build. But with the connections I am making and keeping through other channels, it’s just one more way I know I have to work at finding and keeping an audience. It’s my responsibility to keep my name out there. A publishing house isn’t able to hold hands with everyone all the time, so it’s like you said: in the end, who will you have to blame if your book is not promoted to your liking?

    I didn’t mean to post such a long reply! But I thank you for continuing to post relevant and informative news. You have a great site here, so keep it up!



  48. Joyce on June 24, 2009 at 7:25 AM

    >Rachelle, I am one of the original Abingdon Fiction authors and fortunately Abingdon is doing much to help promote their writers. But I am quickly learning how much is expected of me. If I could have done one thing differently before getting my contract it would have been to work on building a bigger fan base. Oh, I have followers but I look back and see many missed opportunities. Fortunately my book is doing really well in pre-sales and will be one of B&N's featured titles in August and September. That's exciting but it had nothing to do with me, except writing a good book. And that's the point. Angie is correct to say that new guys need to learn the craft, write well, begin building a fan base and then continue writing well until that first sale comes. Just don't get hung up on it. Write well first but look for platform opportunities.



  49. Jason Crawford on June 24, 2009 at 7:17 AM

    >Wow..I would have never guessed that a writer would have a problem promoting his/her own work. That is honestly something I look forward to. Maybe I'm just narcissistic. 🙂

    But alas, I'm still in the "learning to write well" phase.



  50. Richard Mabry on June 24, 2009 at 7:12 AM

    >Rachelle,
    We grumble because "that's not the way it used to be." Well, I can remember when bread was a quarter a loaf (tells you how old I am), but that was then, this is now. Now, we have to do more than write. We have to sell. Unfortunately, that's just counter to the personalities of most writers.
    Thanks for reminding us that our job doesn't end at the computer keyboard. Wish it did. But then again, I also wish the Texas Rangers didn't do a nosedive every June. Sometimes reality isn't pretty.



  51. Rachelle on June 24, 2009 at 6:47 AM

    >Anon 2:54, I think I made it clear in the post that it doesn't matter HOW you find youur audience, but it's in your best interest to do so SOMEHOW. But to answer your question… No, that's not all you need, you also need a book that people want.

    Sharon, Angie was right in her advice if she was talking to unpubbed novelists. Your first priority is to learn to write well, or everything else is moot.



  52. Kristen Torres-Toro on June 24, 2009 at 6:46 AM

    >Wow. These past few months have taught me a lot and despite how hard it is to wait, I'm glad that I'm pulling back and taking the time to build my platform/readership and strengthen my writing simultaenously. The last thing I want is to try to resurrect a career after a book has tanked simply because I didn't put all the hard work into it that was required. I can't imagine how difficult that would be–since getting published for the first time is difficult enough!



  53. Kristen Torres-Toro on June 24, 2009 at 6:46 AM

    >Wow. These past few months have taught me a lot and despite how hard it is to wait, I'm glad that I'm pulling back and taking the time to build my platform/readership and strengthen my writing simultaenously. The last thing I want is to try to resurrect a career after a book has tanked simply because I didn't put all the hard work into it that was required. I can't imagine how difficult that would be–since getting published for the first time is difficult enough!



  54. Sharon A. Lavy on June 24, 2009 at 6:33 AM

    >I love Angie Hunt, multipublished author. But she told us at the Blue Ridge Christian Writers Conference to disregard all the hype about platform. I think that is the one issue a multipublished author can not know because things were different when she got her first-second-third book contract.

    But this subject also makes me wonder if we pre-published author should focus more on small press and try to work our way up. What is your opinion, Rachelle?



  55. Rebecca Woodhead on June 24, 2009 at 5:55 AM

    >Thanks for this post. I agree. I've spent the last few months building up a following on different social networking platforms and now have stacks of publishers following me on twitter and subscribing to my blog feeds.

    So far this has not led to a book deal but I'm learning so much about the industry and it's great to be on first name terms with major players so I can be guided by them on what they're after and the reality of the publishing side of the writing experience.

    My followers are chomping at the bit for my novels so, when I'm published, I know I'll have a stack of people ready to buy. I've also made friends with lots of other bloggers with writing communities. They are all happy for me to guest blog to promote my work. This gives me a network of thousands.

    Another wonderful side-effect of the 'building a platform' process is that I've become chums with some great authors – including NY Times Best-Sellers – and they're more than happy to advise me on life post-publishing so I don't screw up monumentally when I finally get my big break.

    I nabbed spots on all the major social networking sites, whether they're my personal faves or not, so I can meet readers where they prefer to be met. So that this doesn't become confusing for readers/publishers, I parked them all on a navigation page so you can always find me.

    The navigation page has an easy name to remember: http://rebeccawoodhead.com and I set up alternative URLs for the networks so people don't need to remember complicated URLs. For example:

    rebeccawoodhead.com/facebook
    rebeccawoodhead.com/twitter
    rebeccawoodhead.com/goodreads

    That said, I also got up at 4.30 a.m. (I'm in England) to grab my name on Facebook 'land-grab' day on the off-chance that someone just typed it into the browser.

    Building a platform is fun, helpful and just good business sense. Why would anyone drag their heels on this? I'm baffled.

    Rebecca (in England)

    P.S. I put up a little quiz for writers contemplating twitter for book promotion. It might make you chuckle.

    http://frombrain2bookshelf.blogspot.com/2009/06/what-kind-of-twitterer-are-you-quiz-for.html



  56. Anonymous on June 24, 2009 at 3:54 AM

    >Rachelle:
    I am one of your readers; I'll be anonymous this time.
    If someone made an auto engine at a reasonable cost; and it ran on water at 100 MPG; they would not need a platform to sell it. Existing powerful platforms would spread the news quickly.
    Maybe you'd be willing to answer my question: I've been a long time writing a book…however, parts of it have been read by many. The result was that LEADERS in 2 of the world's largest evangelical ministries have called me repeatedly for years…saying they would promote my book. They have a combined total staff of over a half million. I also have been contacted by a secular popular national… media.
    I assumed those facts would be all I needed to gain interest of agents/publishers when the time came. Do I need to start website, etc…to build my OWN platform?
    Maybe you could expand in ways to inform all of us, along other simlar lines, etc.

    Thank you



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