Thursday, March 12, 2009

Author Promo 101?

If I’m being totally honest, promoting myself as an author has been one of the scariest parts of the publishing process for me. I’m much, much more comfortable sitting in front of the computer in my sweat pants with my cup of coffee, engrossed in creating my little fictional world, than I am, back here in the real one, where I know in order for people to read what I write, I actually have to promote myself.

Flash back to a year ago, just after I’d sold my book. I knew I’d have to promote myself, but I had no idea what to do or where to start – a terrifying thought in itself. Ok, making an author website seemed obvious, so I decided to start there. I did a little research online, checked out a lot of different authors' websites to see what I wanted, and in the process, came across some interesting articles on promotion. One thing I read said it was important to get your website set up right away, so that your publisher could include the site on your book jacket (Jacket copy is written and finalized months and months before the book actually comes out.). This realization (and the subsequent rush to get my website in order) was the beginning of Author Promo 101 for me – my oddly uneven and sometimes confusing self-taught course.

As I got my website together, I continued to check out other authors’ sites. I noticed a lot of other authors blogged and were on MySpace. Okay, laugh, if you want, but at first, I had no idea what MySpace even really was. I had this vague idea that it was some social site where teens hung out. But I figured since other authors were there, I should be, too, so I started an account. It took me a few months to actually figure out how and get the courage to friend people, and by then, according to my younger and much cooler sister, everyone had left MySpace for Facebook. So I started a Facebook account, too (which promptly became an addiction). And then a few months later I found Goodreads and started an account there as well.

Then there was the blogging – something it seemed every author did. So I started a blog last summer. But it took me a while to get around to writing the first post. Writing a blog post terrified me – though I knew no one was probably going to read it (and really, no one did at first), it was scary to know that whatever I wrote was being put out there into the universe, er, blogosphere for anyone’s consumption. But then The Novel Girls got together, and soon I was blogging every week, something that very quickly got me over my blogging fear.

Just when I got the hang of blogging, I received a box of advanced review copies of The September Sisters in the mail. And I realized I had no idea what to do with them! I figured I should be using them to help me promote, but how the heck was I supposed to do that? Eventually, some of the people I’d friended on MySpace started e-mailing me and asking me for ARCs. But at first, I wasn’t even sure who to send them out to, until I had a conversation with my agent and she mentioned something about book bloggers. Oh, I thought, feeling like a complete idiot, there are book bloggers?!

Yes, actually, there are. I’ve cyber-met a lot of them over the past few months. And they are awesome!! I sent out review copies to a bunch of them, and in the past two months I’ve also done a lot of interviews, guest posts, and contests with them as well (You can find links to all of them on my blog). The super talented Compulsive Reader even made a book trailer for The September Sisters, just because she’s really nice and she wanted to! (You can watch it here).

But now The September Sisters is out, my first unofficial “blog tour” is winding down, I’m a seasoned blogger and social networker, and this weekend, I have my very first in-person author appearance, when I’ll be speaking and signing books at The Tucson Festival of Books. (If you’re in Tucson, please, stop by and say hello!).

I know that soon it will be time start this process all over again for my second my book, The Life of Glass, which will be out next winter. It’s a prospect that feels much less daunting and much less scary the second time around. Dare I say, I may even be looking forward to it?


Tracy Madison said...

Great post, Jillian! And I love the title of your second book.

Maureen Lipinski said...

Can I reserve an ARC of Life of Glass now? :)


Lesley Livingston said...

*psst* Maureen is barking like a seal! ;-D

By the time you get to LIFE OF GLASS you will totally be a seasoned pro (she says, hoping for same for her own 2nd book...)

And you are very smart to have the myspace/facebook angle covered. That is where the Young Adult readers are!

Maureen Lipinski said...

Ha ha! Yes I am!

Whatever works to snag ARCs from my fabulously talented fellow Novel Girls!

Jillian Cantor said...

Thanks, you guys!

Tracy, I love the title, too, and I arrived at it so much easier than with The Sept. Sisters.

Maureen, your impressive seal barking will put you first in line for an ARC!

And Lesley, we will both be seasoned pros (or at least now we'll know how to pretend like we are)!

Lisa Patton said...

Okay, Jill. I feel like I've been to Author 101. Seriously. There is so much I have to learn and this post is invaluable. THANK YOU!! I feel like you've saved me lots of time. Can I say right now I'm in all of you having finished so many books!!!

Jillian Cantor said...

Lisa, you're sweet! I love looking at that cover in your comment icon -- it is so strikingly beautiful!!