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Self-Promotion for Writers

Self-promotion is an essential part of the writing and publishing process. With lowered budgets most writers cannot expect to receive a large amount of aid from their publisher for the promotion of their latest works. To be a successful writer one must be creative both in writing and promotion.

Tips and Advice

Self-promotion can be difficult for any writer, especially first time writers that have little to no start point. The following are some useful tips and advice on how to self-promote within the literary industry.

  • Self-promotion can be a big job. Include promotional work in your daily job activities. If writing is your full time career it will be necessary for you to keep all promotional materials up to date, even if you do not have a new work coming out.
  • Present yourself in the most professional way possible. Writing and selling your works is a business and should be treated as one. When meeting potential clients (store owners, book sellers, etc.) have all the materials you will need readily available.
  • Your public image is important. Remember that in selling your work, you also have to be able to sell yourself. Dress according to the situation, often this will mean wearing clothing that would be appropriate for a job interview.
  • Be creative! Creativity should not just be confined to your writing. Your self-promotion needs to attract a wide audience, to grab attention, and to inspire new readers for your work.
  • Join a local writing group, writers’ guild, or association. These groups can provide support for you as you venture into the world of promotion. And may also be a good outlet to get the word out about upcoming readings, workshops, or books you may have on the go.
  • Self-promotion may take some footwork on your part. Visit as many bookstores as you possibly can, introducing yourself and letting the owners know that you have a new work coming out. After your visit send out thank you notes, this will add a personal touch and make your visit and upcoming event/work more memorable.
  • Visit chain stores in promotion of your work. Although visiting the local bookstores is a great promotional tool, most books are sold in chain stores, so making contacts there will be of great use to you as you progress in your writing career.
  • Arrange book signings. Yes book signings are one of the oldest promotional tools, but they are effective and help put a face with the words in a book.
  • Volunteer as a speaker for various local literary groups, schools, or even at a hospital. By volunteering your time you may be able to reach a wider audience for your work and will cost you almost no money to do. The Saskatchewan Writers’ Guild offers members the service of an Authors Reading Program, this program helps to facilitate readings in communities and schools throughout Saskatchewan.
  • Although a writer may feel utterly alone in their pursuits of promotional success, talking to your editor or the director of publicity at your publisher can be very beneficial. These people have experience in navigating the literary markets and may be able to provide some good resources on literary promotion.
  • Your publisher is an important tool for you in your self-promotional endeavors. Ask you publisher for cover blow-ups, stickers, cover overruns, and have bound galleys made (if your publisher is not already doing this).
  • Purchase copies of your work, and hand out free copies. Although this may cost you some money upfront, it can be an important promotional tool. Free copies of works, can entice readers to recommend your book and through word of mouth spread good publicity.
  • Attend literary conferences. Conferences are the gathering places for writers, publishers, and other industry professionals. Although you may have to pay to attend a conference, they are the ideal places for a writer to make contacts and promote their latest work. Many writers’ organizations, such as the Saskatchewan Writers’ Guild, have annual conferences that are open to both members and non-members.
  • Promote your work before publication. Promotion is time sensitive. You should be working to promote yourself and your latest work well before it goes to print. Beginning promotion after your work has gone to print is far too late.
  • Contact local media to draw attention to your most recent work. Television, radio and newspaper interviews or coverage will be important promotional tools as they reach a wide-ranging audience.
  • A writer may be responsible for footing the bill for any promotional work they are required to do. Using some or your entire advance may be a good source of income in order to fund your promotional work, the better you promote your work, the bigger your sales and income will be
  • Talk to local distributors. These distributors tend to be smaller in size and more willing to help local artists
  • If you are lucky enough to be invited to appear on TV make sure that you represent yourself in the best possible light. Speak clearly and with expression, relax and have a good time
  • Find something unique about your work and yourself that will make you stand out among other authors
  • The publicity world has begun to change dramatically in the last few years. Writers no longer have to rely on traditional methods of promotion such as readings, book signings, and book tours, but can now go online to promote their latest work. Twitter, Facebook, blogging and personal author websites are now important and key self-promotional tools that an author can use.
  • Blogging and updating your Facebook page is an effective and simple way for a writer’s voice to be heard and noticed, even if they do not have any recent works being released.
  • Twittering is one of the most recent Internet sensations, it allows users to instantly post and share their thoughts and news within seconds. Tweeting can keep your readers up to date on your most recent endeavors or work as a reminder for any readings, workshops, or signings you may be doing.
  • Write guest posts on other people’s blogs. This will mean that your voice will be heard by an entirely new-audience.
  • Consider using different forms of media to promote your work. Look at creating a trailer for your book using easy to use computer software on your computer or post video clips of one of your readings on YouTube or your Facebook page.

A professional writer’s job goes well beyond the pages of their latest manuscript. Unless you are lucky enough to be one of the few well established writers in Canada, whose publishers willingly pay for promotion, you will have to self-promote like crazy in order to successfully sell yourself and your work to a readership.


For More Information About Self-Promotion:

List of Sample Book Trailers compiled by Sylvia McNicoll from Freelance (Dec/11-Jan/12) article "Book Trailers: The Modern Marketing Tool"


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