Promoting my book felt like showing-off at a time when I was especially vulnerable. I’d put my name to a novel. Telling people about the work was tantamount to suggesting they buy a copy. Describing it as Romantic Comedy not only suggested I thought I could tell a story but that I was funny. Who did I think I was? As you can tell, I was apologetic and, I’ll admit, slightly neurotic, and yet I really wanted people to read the story.
Guest post by: Patricia Caliskan.
If you’ve written a book, there’s a good chance you spent a lot of time thinking about writing a book. And as a writer, there’s also the distinct possibility, the last thing you ever thought about, was telling people about your work. And yourself.
When my first book, Awful by Comparison, was published, I’d spent 18-months writing in solitude, never telling a soul how I spent evenings and weekends working on a novel. I did that to protect myself from failure and to avoid people thinking I was entirely deluded. Then, there I was, having to shout about the book to potential readers.
When my publisher first discussed promoting my book, it was the first time I realized how much I was to be included in the mix. Focused on working on my manuscript I’d barely left my desk long enough to think about Social Media accounts, Book Blogs, and author interviews. As somebody who formerly made a career out of interviewing people, rather than feeling like a natural, I couldn’t help feeling more comfortable as the person asking the questions, rather than answering them.
Promoting my book felt like showing-off at a time when I was especially vulnerable. I’d put my name to a novel. Telling people about the work was tantamount to suggesting they buy a copy. Describing it as Romantic Comedy not only suggested I thought I could tell a story but that I was funny. Who did I think I was? As you can tell, I was apologetic, and, I’ll admit, slightly neurotic, and yet I really wanted people to read the story.
This time around, with my second novel, Girlfriend, Interrupted, I’m trying to enjoy the process, thanks to a simple piece of advice I received years ago: Make it good enough. This mantra helps me through each impending stage of a first draft, guides me through the editing process and reminds me why I’m so besotted by writing novels. Every spark of a new idea and each time I type those miraculous words, ‘The End’ brings the prospect of inviting readers along for the ride. It’s a form of magic.
Sometimes you need to remind yourself of how much you love your story. Remember all those hours you spent with your characters? How you couldn’t get the words down quick enough once you were ready to reveal the family secret, the punch-line, or the big twist? And how about the day you decided on the title of your novel? Even the most reserved of writers share a spirit of adventure. We just tend to prefer writing about those adventures, rather than starring in them.
So, before you find yourself shutting your laptop in fright at the sight of your Amazon page, or mumbling incoherently when asked about the dynamics of your novel, remember a part of your job is letting your book do what it was born to do, which is to be read. Sounds simple but if you’re suffering from post-publication stage-fright here are a few pointers which spared my blushes:
It’s about the Book.
There’s a story you wrote for a reason, and if at least two people, i.e. your agent and publisher, thought it deserved to exist, the least you should do is respect their decision. Get over your insecurities with the thought, it’s the strength of the novel which needs to do the real work.
Support Reviews and Ratings.
As Oscar Wilde said, ‘There is only one thing in the world worse than being talked about, and that is not being talked about.’
Reviews provide invaluable feedback, and can positively influence your writing. They also work hard, in terms of direct, unfiltered, recommendation for potential readers. Good, bad, or indifferent, be grateful to the people who take time out to discuss your efforts.
Social Media is your Friend
Writing is a solitary existence. Social Media brings a whole world of information, opinion, and hilarious commentary to your fingertips, and encourages you to do the same. There’s also a growing community of fellow writers and established authors for you to get to know and love, along with potential readers – and actual fans!
Be Part of the Conversation
Your novel grew from a place of interests, aesthetics, and issues, which resonated with you, and are shared by your readers. So basically, what we’ve got here, is a group of like-minded friends, right? Have fun with the conversations sparked by your work. Read the forums, reply to comments, and enjoy the interest in your book.
Once you’re in the Swing of Things…
Take a breath. Promoting your book brings responsibility at your fingertips, thanks to social media. Worrying about not doing enough guarantees that you are doing plenty. Your book will travel, be discussed, clutched, ear-marked, and downloaded by people in places and parts of the world, you’ve never set foot in. Trust in the power of a good story, and don’t forget to enjoy the part you played in making it good enough.