Saturday, July 24, 2010

5 thoughts on book promotion

After being detained in Dame Murderpool's bone-chilling basement cell for the better part of two weeks, INTERN escaped and has returned to North America, leaving Shamsbury-pon-the-Spoor in Elmira's capable hands. (it's a long story. INTERN will save it for a rainy day).

Anyway, INTERN's book (still a secret) has been out for almost three months now, and while shivering in Dame Murderpool's cell, INTERN had the time to collect her thoughts on some things she's learned in that time.

-It helps to be friendly.

As opposed to being demanding, arrogant, vain, mean, prima donna-ish, or, in the words of INTERN's editorial assistant friend, "a f&^#ing psychopath." INTERN has been told this holds true outside of publishing too, but so far this has been unconfirmed.

-It helps to have people.

Mention you've just had a book published, and suddenly everybody you've ever met becomes your greatest spokesperson without you even needing to ask. INTERN's landlady spammed all 1,400 of her nearest and dearest e-mail contacts when INTERN told her about her book, and the librarians in INTERN's hometown all but took out a full-page ad in the local newspaper. It's not about "networking" or schmoozing up important-looking strangers at cocktail parties—just knowing people, pretty much any people, is fantastically useful. (PS: It helps if those people like you, or at least feel a kind of vague semi-approval in your direction—see previous point.)

-It helps to be innumerate.

As in, it helps to be so extraordinarily bad at math that you can blithely ignore the fact that for the time you spend promoting your book by maintaining a new blog, website, twitter and facebook page, getting up at 4 AM for radio interviews on the other side of the country, and having a nervous breakdown over your selection of outfits for a 15-second national TV spot in which you look like an anemic weasel, you will make approximately 75 cents per hour unless the sales are really, reaaaaally good.

-It helps to be available 24/7.

One of INTERN's publicist's favorite tricks is to call when INTERN is still in bed and say "Why haven't you written back to my e-mail yet?" in a voice that floods a very groggy INTERN's body with terror and adrenaline. Some radio and TV opportunities literally can't wait, and if you don't answer the phone on the first ring or hop in the first cab to the airport or whatever, there's no second chance. It can be hard to wrap your mind around the extent to which you're expected to be "on call" for potential media events, even several months after the book's release. But it's also a good sign, because it means your publisher's still pouring energy into your book.

-It helps to see everything as hilarious.

Book sales awesome? Hilarious!
Bizarre and possibly sinister Amazon review? Hilarious!
Radio host invents a sexy and outlandish bio for you on the fly? Hilarious!

So much of a book's success or failure depends on things you can't predict or control, so it's easier just to laugh at everything that happens in equal measure rather than get really psyched about the wins and really stressed about the downers.


And that's about all INTERN can think of for now.


  1. and, yet, here you are, telling this to the most loyal fanbase you might ever have, and you're still keeping the title a secret?

    i don't get turning down the flurry of sales that would come from telling us the title nor the rust of publicity that would come from all of your loyal fanbase tweeting/facebooking/emailing all of our friends and relations about your book.

    your Street Team is here, we're waiting, we have money in hand, and we *want* to help.



  2. I wish there was some way of finding out who you are without causing the demise of INTERN:-/

  3. The seeing-everything-as-hilarious technique works in other aspects of life, too. I used to slog through the occasional wow-this-is-so-UNLIKELY run of bad luck while thinking, "This will be funny someday," but now I tend to find it funny now. Whether or not this is a good thing for my sanity remains to be seen.

  4. INTERN is the biggest tease in the known universe. I'm considering resenting her for it, but she's too damn endearing for me to actually go through with it. Frigg.

  5. Jeez. It must be nice to have a publicist too. And one who calls you. That would be so good.

  6. Intern has helped so many, but we cannot promote her book. I've handed back my psychics licence, I now own a road sweeper. People, yes it's all about the people. The rest I'm waiting for.

  7. You NEVER fail to make me laugh and think at the very same time.

    Ibuprofen has become my friend...

  8. Okay, Intern, I was really fine with your whole anonymity thing before. I didn't-- even for a second-- fall for the Crazy Seniors Travel Malarkie stand-in you concocted. I totally get that.

    But... now I'm just DESPERATE to know what book this is! Killing. Me.


  9. Were you really on TV? Were you riding a horse?

    But really, thanks for continuing to keep us informed of your travels through the often bizarre publishing world.

    Now I’m going to go to this Facebook thing and flip through it until I find you.

  10. I totally get the be innumerate. Marketing and promoting is all consuming but it's good to be in a place where I can say that from experience! It's also fun and exciting to be published.

    Tell us the name of your book ... we won't tell anyone, really!

  11. Now, I really know why I hate marketing.