Trillium Book Awards Author Reading 2015

Liz Worth's blog

Why writers need to talk about work

Like a lot of people out there, I used to think that anyone who had a book published must be “making it” as a full-time writer. I didn’t wonder how much they might actually be making, just assumed that they were getting by just fine.

And then I became a writer and learned how very, very misguided my thinking had been. In fact, I was quickly schooled in the double-life that so many authors lead. We know writers through their bylines and spines of their books, but rarely do we know the details of their lives outside of that.

When people used to ask me if I was a full-time author, I would tell them that getting published is not equivalent to winning Cash for Life and that yes, I do work and yes, I need the money.

Should you hire a book publicist?

In my last post, I wrote about some of the questions authors might want to get clear on when it comes to publicising their books, especially when it comes to understand a publisher’s commitment to promoting a new title.

Now, I’m going to talk about what happens if you decide to maximize your chances of getting press for your book by hiring a publicist.

Notice how I said maximize your chances of getting press? That’s because publicity is often a game of odds. Sure, we all want to believe our books could be The Next Big Thing, but we also need to remember that there are no guarantees in publicity. But that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t try.

Getting press: The questions to ask about publicity before your book is published

“My last book did not get a single review,” a friend told me last year after the release of his third title. “The publisher didn’t do anything to promote it, and I didn’t have time.”

This is, unfortunately, a story I’ve heard many times. And unfortunately, sometimes promotional promises are made by publishers when a book is sold. They say they’ll make an effort to push it, but that effort might not be what a book needs.

And it’s also very common to hear writers talk about not knowing how to promote themselves to the press or to book bloggers.

For some, self-promotion comes as naturally as breathing while it makes others want to curl up and die. But often, even those who are uncomfortable promoting themselves still want their work to be recognized, and rightly so.

How to make a book soundtrack

I’ve always thought that if I ever make a movie, choosing the soundtrack would be one of the things I would be most excited to do.

So I figured why not do the same for a book?

Even though I’m not big on listening to music while I write (I tend to get too focused on the lyrics, and I don’t feel I need any other background noise besides the sounds that are already around me), I do think that creating a book soundtrack can add an additional element to a book.

When you give readers something to listen to along with your book – and this can work with fiction, poetry, or non-fiction – it can tell them something more about the story. It can create different moods and give them a whole other dimension to your work.

An etiquette expert weighs in on how to handle the most awkward questions authors get

“So is being a writer what you really want to do some day?”

This is a question that someone asked me when they found out I had just had a book published.

“Well, I’m doing it now, actually,” I said.

“Oh. Yeah. I guess you are.”

As awkward and potentially inappropriate as it was, I could see where this was coming from. My first book had been out for a few months and I was working a day job. If I hadn’t had the job, the question probably wouldn’t have come up. A different scenario might have been assumed instead.

I was also once asked, “So how much do you make per book? Because my friend is a writer and he says he only gets about ten cents for every book he sells.”

Why you need a creative manifesto (and how to write your own)

I wrote my first creative manifesto in 2011, inspired by author and blogger Justine Musk’s own efforts to do the same after she wrote about the competition for a writer’s attention these days.

It isn’t enough to just write. Many of us also end up being our own agents, managers, publicists, and marketing departments. Our attention is spread between social media and websites and readings and of course the everyday joys and responsibilities of life: work and families and friends and everything in between.

This is where the manifesto comes in handy. Because there are so many things that can pull us from our path, or at least distract us long enough to forget to keep putting one foot in front of the other. But as Musk so eloquently reminds us, “When we commit to the path, we win.”

Self-promotion doesn’t have to suck: A crash course in online marketing

I have good news and bad news.

The good news is, as a writer, you live in a time when easy, free marketing opportunities are available en masse these days.

The bad news is that regardless of the number of options you have to promote yourself, none of them are magic bullet to critical acclaim, fame, or sales.

BUT…that doesn’t mean that marketing shouldn’t be a priority for you.

I know there are lot of writers out there who just want to write. And I hear you: self-promotion can feel weird, and I understand hesitating to put any extra time into anything other than your writing itself.

Syndicate content