I knew when I went into this book publishing thing that I'd have to help market my novel. Even big-name writers with big-house publishers must do book tours, signings and interviews. I didn't realize, though, how much of my life could be consumed by the pursuit of readers.
So now I'm spending huge chunks of time researching, emailing and calling independent bookstores, book clubs, Parrot Head organizations and media outlets. And that doesn't even count the time I've spent trying to figure out social media, which everyone says is an ideal way to sell a book. Riiiight.
My publisher told me I should do five things every day to promote my book. Sounds simple, until I get into drafting a message to the hometown newspaper where I used to work, trying to strike just the right note between familiarity and professionalism. Or tracking down Caribbean festivals on the East Coast. Hey, this is work! And it's harder than writing.
It doesn't help that I'm not comfortable with either salesmanship or asking for favors. As a kid I "sold" all my Girl Scout cookies to Mom and drank the whole pitcher of lemonade rather than call out to passing strangers. (A lemonade stand on a rural road is a dumb idea, anyway.) My career in arts management was short because fund-raising is, essentially, begging. Query letters have always been the hardest part of freelancing.
And don't tell me that Facebook and Twitter make it easier. I am just as awkward at tweeting about Fish-Eye Lens as I would be waving a copy of it in front of everyone I met in a day. The little bit of self-promotion I do makes me feel dirty and obnoxious.
But I plug on, following that advice about the five things.
I guess most new authors fantasize about a Rebecca Wells-like tipping point, where suddenly the book is hot. The clubs have embraced it, or Oprah promotes it, or mention of the title has gone viral, or a major reviewer gives it a rave. My fantasy is that Mr. Jimmy Buffett himself will read and love it, then mention it to his legion of fans.
So, OK. What's the name of that bookstore in Duck, North Carolina?