OPINION: The Need for Champions

If you ask authors to list what they dread the most it’s having to sell themselves and their books. Apparently, self-promotion remains one of the most daunting tasks of the whole process, especially for self-publishing authors and trade-published midlist authors.

Even though most people understand the creative accomplishment of writing a book, authors who toil for months and sometimes years to craft a novel are often reticent about spreading the word that their work is available. Not because they don’t want to, but because they are afraid of the backlash of self-promotion.

When we were children, we’d stand up and proudly show the drawing we made or the castle we built and bask unselfconsciously in the admiration and adulation of our parents and teachers.

But when we grow older, many of us are discouraged to speak of our accomplishments. There’s an element of crassness and arrogance associated with self-promotion. We are expected to be humble and wait for people to ask what we do, and when we speak about our novels, we are encouraged to do so with humility and self-deprecation, so people know that we’re not arrogantly thumping our chests over our accomplishments.

How can you tell people that you’ve written and published a novel or even a series without embarrassment?

With the proliferation of self-publishing through Amazon the current offering in reading material is astoundingly high in volume and ironically low in quality. A recent census revealed that 80% of the people living in the U.S. want to write a book. Sadly, not everyone who wants to do something truly excels at their endeavours, so there are a lot of books flooding the market that are not really worth a reader’s attention.

Many readers are turned off by the glut of badly written self-published books that beg their attention. As a result, readers will not listen to authors promoting their books, but they will turn to other ways of deciding what books to read.

One of the most influential factors in choosing a novel to read is when books come recommended. Preferably by friends, because recommendations carry more weight if delivered by someone trusted for their good judgment.

Many readers are unaware of how important recommendations are, especially for beginning authors who rely on the word-to-mouth to build their readership.

Although this counts doubly for self-published authors–who don’t have a publicist or a publisher to coordinate their marketing efforts–even trade-published midlist authors are pretty much left to their own devices.

So how can readers help their favourite authors?

Be their Champion.

If you meet someone who might enjoy the same books you enjoy, tell them about your favourite authors. Write about the books you read on GoodReads. Leave reviews on retailer websites. Like your favourite author on Facebook. Pin their covers on Pinterest. Follow their blogs. Apply for Advanced Reader Copies of their books. Start or join a fan club.

What do you think? Please comment, and let me know I’m not just talking to the void. If you have ideas to increase word-of-mouth, don’t hesitate to share!

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4 Comments on “OPINION: The Need for Champions”

  1. datmama4 says:

    There seems to be some sort of unspoken rule about self-promotion, doesn’t there? I like to tell people about others’ accomplishments far more than telling them about my own; it’s just more comfortable, I suppose.

    Promoting others, especially when it doesn’t benefit me in any way, allows my friends to know that I’m not going to constantly “sell” something to them, which helps them to trust my recommendations.

    I finally got to read Microchip Murder, by the way, and LOVED it. As soon as I have a break in my work schedule I’m going to start ripping through your other books. And yep—recommending them to my friends.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I believed, like many other writers believed, that writing good books is enough to get people to read your work and wait with bated breath for the next book you write.

      What I dislike most about self-promotion that it’s close to impossible to talk about your work without sounding arrogant. I’m incredibly proud of my books, I’ve read them more than anyone else (ha!), and I think they deserve a wide readership. And even that makes me sound conceited and vain.

      And I didn’t publish my books for validation or ego-stroking (although it’s fantastic if a stranger not only buys and reads your books, but also sends you letters/emails where they tell you how much they enjoyed your books and how they cannot wait for the next book), but I truly think they’re interesting and worthy of someone’s time.

      And I cannot complain–I do have some champions. I always write in the playground while watching my kids (yes, I wrote the murder and mayhem while my 3-year old daughter brought me a cake she made out of sand that I had to pretend to eat before I oculd continue having Katla stab someone to death). One of the fathers was curious, I told him I was writing fiction and gave him my Loki Enterprises business card. He read all my books and is telling everyone that they should read them too.

      And it’s not about the money (although it would be nice if my pipedream of actually turning a profit would come true), but simply the need to tell a story to other people.

      So, thank you, Linda, for your kind words and your support. Through your efforts, more people will find out about my books and maybe Katla will become a part of their lives too…

      Like

  2. Jack says:

    I also believe that the things that make us good writers (“good” in the sense of able to put words on paper) tend to work against us as promoters. A writer must be self-contained, at home with the whole idea of spending hours a day for months and years sequestered in solitude building plots and narratives. Then suddenly we are called upon to stand up and speak to crowds, glad-handing them and convincing each person in a mass to like what we have done without them seeing it first. If there are two skills more diametrically opposed, I don’t know what they are!

    And yes, I promote other indies diligently. Alas, I have very little feedback on whether it’s doing any good. An odd fact is that before I published, I always avoided indies. I felt that best-sellers were best-sellers for a reason, and indies were a waste of time and money. Now that I have joined their ranks and see what they’re up against, I read them almost exclusively, and shamelessly pimp their books, even while remaining close-lipped about mine. My book has been out for eight months, and I’m still working on finding that middle ground between sensible promotion and obnoxious pushiness.

    Thanks for writing this; every piece of insight and information helps.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you for your comment, Jack!

      You wrote: “An odd fact is that before I published, I always avoided indies. I felt that best-sellers were best-sellers for a reason, and indies were a waste of time and money.”

      Best-seller just means a book that has a high commercial mass appeal. Like Snooki’s book on Parenting. Or Dan Brown’s books.

      It’s too bad that we regard indie music as ‘avant-garde’ and ‘not constrained by the restrictions of the Big Music Companies’, but see indie-publishing as ‘glorified vanity publishing’. But while the glut might be garbage (because of the ease with which you can publish unfinished and unpolished drafts), many former mid-list authors are now indie-publishing their backlists.
      And many new authors are disappointed when they encounter the extremely restrictive boilerplate contracts offered by trade publishing companies, so they go their own way.

      if you know where to look, there’s a wealth of well-written indie-published books available.

      Like


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