Thursday, September 30, 2010

Is Book Promotion Overwhelming to Anyone Other Than Me?

Had I known being an author would require me to do so much I might not have bothered.

Okay, that's not true. Writing is like breathing to me and for at least the past 15 years I've wanted to see my name on the front cover of a book--though providing endorsements on back covers of books is nice too.

Over the past month I've certainly gotten a new appreciation for my virtual book tour clients as I prepare for my upcoming virtual book tour with Pump Up Your Book.

Let's see, first of all, I had to coordinate my own tour. I guess it should be easy since I already do this for a living, but coordinating a two-and-a-half month tour alongside tours for about a dozen other people isn't exactly a cake walk. My poor Inbox has 51 items in it. Not bad considering many people's Inboxes, but definitely more than my usual one-page list. There are so many emails flying back and forth for my tour and my clients' that it's amazing it can all be kept straight.

Staples and the post office have seen me so much these past few weeks we've considered creating a tunnel from my house to their front doors to save time. When the Staples employees start calling me by my first name, I'll certainly begin to worry.

By the way, do you have any idea how much shipping supplies cost? And just thinking about the amount of money I've spent on postage gives me hives.

I have a notebook that I use to track all ongoing virtual book tours. My tour alone has 75 stops, not including some of the pre-tour buzz I've been making along the way. There are additions, cross-outs, and eraser marks all over the place. My handwriting is horrible--just ask those whose books I've autographed--and trying to decipher my schedule is akin to trying to read the disclaimer at the end of a sweepstakes giveaway that is typed in a 7.5 font.

Since my book's release on August 21st, I don't think a day has gone by that I haven't blogged about it, tweeted it, talked about it on Facebook and my other social networks, or guest blogged somewhere.

The two major things I need to do to get ready for my tour are email the giveaway announcement to all my hosts and post my full tour schedule here. I'll be doing that over the weekend.

Now I understand why big name writers hire people to do all this stuff. It's like a part-time job on top of everything else you're doing.

I hope you've enjoyed my silly ramblings. Honestly, I wouldn't want to be doing anything else right now. I'm thrilled to be a debut author. I know this is just the first of many books my name will appear on (see, I'm not always a pessimist). I love my clients and there are no better bloggers on the face of the planet than those who host Pump Up Your Book's authors.

I know being a touring author is going to make me a better virtual book tour coordinator. I feel very blessed to have this opportunity. God is good!


Rebecca Camarena said...

Great post Cheryl, and it sounds like you need an Excel spreadsheet to keep track of all that touring. Wishing you all the best.

Susan J. Berger said...

I honor you Cheryl.. I really want t know how this tour turns out for you and how it afftects your sales. I find that don't promote much at all. I have to get started with "Growing Up Dreams." I will be sending you a copy for your review (like you don't have enough to do!)
Sue B

Admin said...

Isn't that cool being on the other side of the fence? That's actually how I started but the opposite - author first and am dying to try it again now that I've learned the ropes - next book! I think when I do it again, I'm giving you all the tours because no way in god's green earth would I have the time to do my own and everyone else's!

Mayra Calvani said...

Oh my gosh, Cheryl! I can relate so well! I just looked at the clock and it's almost 2pm--the whole morning gone, promoting my latest book. It's great but then, what about the writing?! LOL

But I really don't understand how you can handle so many tours plus your own. You're a super woman!

Now you need your own radio show. :-)

Cheryl said...

Hey ladies. So glad to see you here. Becky, much of my stuff is in Excel spreadsheets, but for tours, my paper calendar works easiest for me. I'm not a fan of paper except for that calendar I can't seem to shake.

Susan, I'll definitely be blogging about my VBT. I know I've sold a few online because Amazon had 5 originally, then listed as having only 1 in stock. The book hit the Top 100 in its category on Amazon for two days in a row, after they replenished their stock. Now it says only 1 left again, so even though I don't know how many have sold yet, they are selling. Someone from my daughter's school bought one off B&N this week. Can't wait to read this other book of yours. I loved the other two you sent me.

Dot, you're so funny. If this doesn't motivate you to get writing, I don't know what will.

Mayra, I think you and I share superwoman status. I've considered my own podcast, but I don't know where I would fit it in. Plus, it would have to run during working hours, because once the girls come home nothing else happens until after they are in bed. Then I would have to create a blog to promote the podcast, then I would have to promote it at social networks, then....all equaling even less time to write.

Thanks again for dropping in ladies. I appreciate the support.


Beverly Stowe McClure said...

LOL! Wonderful post. It is hard to find time to write once you start on that promotional roller coaster. But it's part of the game. You are amazing with all that you do. Make me feel downright lazy.

elysabeth said...

I attended an SCBWI Carolinas fall conference last weekend and one of the sessions I sat in was Shelli Johannes-Wells' Marketing group - She basically reinforced what I've been hearing about marketing before and that is set aside a set amount of time for marketing as you do your writing - either all on one day or a part of your writing time each day; she likes to say perhaps you have set aside 2-hour blocks for writing time Monday through Thursday and then spend that 2-hour block on Friday doing all your marketing and promoting. I just need to get back on track with my writing and worry about the promotional stuff as it comes along. I've found a few more yahoo forums to join that hopefully will get my name out there and am considering a new angle to promote the series (working on a Monthly Mystery State Unit Study program to be used by homeschoolers and teachers alike so that takes the pressure of knowing which state is actually being studied). So be on the look out for that coming in the next few months.

Cheryl, you do amaze me by how much you work hard for others as well as yourself. It is a daunting task and 75 stops? What are you thinking woman? I can't fathom a tour more than a month long but that is just because I have too much else going on - lol. I've got the book and am ready to read (like I have a lot of time to do that too) and give you a review. Need to get an interview with you some time to post on my tour date - so guess I should work on that - lol - later - E :)

Elysabeth Eldering
Author of the Junior Geography Detective Squad, 50-state, mystery, trivia series

Where will the adventure take you next?

Donna M. McDine said...

Hi Cheryl:

Terrific post. The tour you scheduled for me has been going terrific and I have to say I'm glad I left it up to the professionals to organized and facilitate my first VBT. Just making the rounds each day is exhausting enough. But I'm loving it! It's a good exhaustion.

Best wishes for your success with Little Shepherd, further writing, and PUYBP! You are terrific all around. Keep up the wonderful work!

Warm regards,

Cheryl said...

How nice to come out here and find more friends. Bev and Elysabeth, I guess it's a good thing I'm organized or I would never be able to accomplish it. Bev, I doubt anyone would call you lazy.

Elysabeth, I try my best for others. I know it's so hard and I hate to turn anyone away unless I really have to. As for the 75 stops, I was thinking this is a Christmas book, so it will sell for the next few months and then drop off, so I had to make the most of book promotion now. Someone has asked if I would come speak at her church, so we'll see what happens with that. I'm going to put together a mailing for that and see if other churches in the area are interested.

Donna, I'm so glad you're enjoying your VBT. I think working for someone you know is almost harder than working for a person you've only just met. There's a tiny bit of additional pressure to make sure it all goes right; though I try my best for every client I work with. It's great that your book and mine came out so close to each other.

Off to work on more book promo. Thanks for stopping by.


NancyCL said...

Cheryl, thanks so much for sharing this. Writing is hard work, but marketing and promotion seem even harder. It's great to know I'm not alone feeling this way. Needless to say, I am in awe of your energy, patience and perserverance! Kudos to you, my friend!

Christine London said...

Hi Cheryl,
You struck a chord with me that has been resonating, low these few months/years now. I've not thought it all through nor do I have all the (right)answers, but it seems to me that there must be a more efficient way to get all this promoting done.
I recently took an online class focusing on blogging and making money. A very narrow scope of promoting is blogging, yet the technical jargon and knowledge required is simply beyond the scope of even a somewhat savvy computer user.
An entire cottage industry has sprung up around the needs of struggling midlist and newbie authors. Classes, workshops, conferences, books, articles, blogs...the array (and cost, both monetary and in time) is mind boggling.
Publishers used to do a lot more for authors, yes. But even "in the good old days" they focused most of their resources on their top authors. (the top 10 percent of the authors make 95% of the income for the publishing house)
In spite of these statistics, doesn't it seem counterintuitive to cast the vast majority of your authors to the wind and expect them all to reinvent the promotional wheel? Would it really ‘cost’ so very much to hire an expert in each publishing house to handle the technical aspects of promotions that require every author enormous energy, resources and time away from producing their next (maybe breakthrough) novel? Small press houses have the thinnest of promotional dollar margin's, yet does it make sense to expect every author to learn the intricacies of the computer and internet world? What is the cost/benefit ratio?
Perhaps offering the services of a professional web designer and or one who knows the ins and outs of the html and other coding on blogger--on a cost basis? Something that a tech savvy individual could do in ten minutes might take every author ten hours of learning curve to figure out. It just seems lose-lose. Authors lose precious writing time--something only they can do because they have the creativity and talent. Publishers miss out on more works produced by their authors because they are out there beating their heads against the virtual walls trying to figure out how best to do something they have no proclivity or talent toward. Point of fact--most authors loathe the technical aspects of promotions simply because they are---technical. We are creative left brainers. The right brainers of the world have the patience and knowledge to insert widgets, code flash, add bling etc. The publishers aren't asking web designers and software engineers to write novels. The absurdity of it even sounds comical to the ear.
No money to promote their authors? much more would the cash of excellent literature increase if its creators were freed from the burden of learning and implementing things they have neither the time, ability or desire to do?
We write the blogs, make the appearances at events, do the research and reply to the fans. How about an expert to design the website, insert the code and build the tweetdom? Penny wise and pound foolish, indeed.
Thanks for the though provoking article!
Christine London

kathy stemke said...

WOW,75 stops!! I see what I have to look forward to. I've been soooo impatient to have a book published, now I see that's just the beginning. Good luck with all you're doing Cheryl. Love, kathy

Connie Arnold said...

You are amazing doing so much, Cheryl! I'm starting my own book tour today, just two weeks but so much work to set up. I've just returned from being away for two weeks, and catching up with promotion is going to take all my time and energy for a while. You must have a lot of energy, and I know you are very organized. Best wishes to you, Cheryl!

Cheryl said...

Nancy, Kathy, and Connie, how sweet of you to drop in. I know you all have so much going on too. Connie, your book sounds adorable. I can't wait to read it. Good luck with the tour.

You know, I doubt I'm anymore energetic than any of you, just used to promoting online. I bet some of you are better at local book signings and making local contacts. Until a journalist friend invited me to a local writers conference last year I didn't even know it existed.

Christine, you've definitely thought about this a lot. I think that's certainly part of why we see authors come out with a book and then disappear for years or never release another book. It's a shame because I've read many wonderful books and looked forward to a new book from the author and one never came.

I'm too cheap to pay for anything, so I'm depending upon myself most of the time. The only thing I was definitely set on paying for was a website redesign, but I have gone through 4 people who have said they would do it, we started talking about it, and then they disappeared. So, my new website won't be what I wanted it be for the book tour, but I'm okay with that. My next big project is to find someone who is willing to tackle that for me and actually follow through to the end.

I feel fortunate that my publisher does a lot to promote its authors, so I feel like there is a partnership there; but it's still a lot of work on my own. If I wasn't in the business, I would be more overwhelmed than I am.

Thanks to all of you for sharing your comments. They are greatly appreciated.