Notes from An Alien

~ Explorations In Reading, Writing & Publishing ~

Do Pre-Publication Promotion And Sanity Go Together ?

So someone writes a book and wants other people to buy it.

The day that book comes out, there will be at least 2,000 other books seeing the light of day.

Hence, all the talk about pre-publication promotion, author platforms, and a writer’s audience.

If you try to do everything that everyone says to promote a book you’ll evaporate in a cloud of angst.

My book will be published in late May and I began pre-publication promotion about a year and a half ago–long before I began writing the book. I took the idea and themes of the book and shared them as widely as I could. It gave me some valuable information on the small percentage of people who would be interested in the book I would write :-)

There are not as many people interested in a book that tells the story of going from seemingly interminable war to an enduring and noble peace as there are folks who would rather escape reality with a good vampire story.

I’ve got nothing against anyone’s reading appetite but I do need to be clear about my book being potentially hard to sell.

So, for months now (since the book was being written and through the editing processes), I’ve been trying various recommended ways to promote it.

I learned early-on to steer clear of people and sites that were trying to sell me some amazing method they claimed would guarantee  sales of my book when it’s released. I guess I’m just an Eskimo and those folks are trying to sell me snow

The key approach I’ve learned is called, by some, Relationship Marketing:

Let people get to know you, share your goals and philosophy, give them support in what they’re doing; then, maybe they’ll be interested in your book…

And, even if they don’t want your book, they may know someone who does.

Before I learned some of the finer points of relationship marketing, I was introduced to Seth Godin’s book, Unleashing The Idea Virus (buy it here or download it free here).

Very basically, he talks about finding “hives” (or tribes) of people and unleashing your idea, thereby “infecting” people with it. The best thing that can happen is for the tribe to have a lot of “sneezers”–people who naturally share anything they like as widely as they can.

Relationship marketing contains elements of Godin’s ideas plus social networking.

I tried, as hard as I could, to utilize Facebook and Twitter but I’ve pulled my involvement in both way back; the signal to noise ratio is just too heavily weighted toward “noise” for a book like mine to make much impact.

During the months I was trying to use those tools, I slowly became quite temporarily insane :-)

Luckily, I also started this blog and worked to build friendships with other writers with blogs…

I’ve also been using the virtual world, Second Life, to build a network of friends who might like my book. You can read more about that here and here.

Now, here I am, a little over two months from book launch, brain-frazzled, but willing to forge ahead and work my way back to sane coherency in my promotion efforts.

My methods and mistakes are certainly not a guide for any other writer. Each of us has to evaluate the potential pools of readers and how best to approach them; each must select their own set of tools.

One bit of advice I think could apply across the board is to incorporate relationship-building into your promotion efforts. I think you’ll find the results will last a lot longer :-)
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23 responses to “Do Pre-Publication Promotion And Sanity Go Together ?

  1. Karla Telega March 11, 2011 at 12:49 pm

    When I first started my blog, I would get 2 to 10 visitors per day (thanks Mom!) I thought, what’s the use? But I kept on posting. Once I started visiting other people’s blogs, I started to get a more steady stream of visitors. It’s been one year since I built my website, and (not counting spammers) I usually get about 400 to 500 visits a day. I rarely post excerpts from my books, so the purpose of my posts is just to get people to enjoy my writing.

    I’ve found that a combination of putting out quality posts that are entertaining and taking an honest interest in others has really helped grow my audience. I try to support other writers, and am truly appreciative of their support for me.

    I’ve read recently that you need to network with readers, not writers. My next step is to start focusing more on networking with my target audience – middle age women. Not as easily done for an introvert trying to connect to strangers.


    • Julie April 29, 2013 at 1:12 pm

      Hi Karla I read you blurb and it was very informative. My own dreamy inexperienced notion was that I write the book and somebody else prints and sells it…silly me, it looks like things are changing in book publishing with ebooks, etc. I’ve been writing a book about my life growing up in a highly dysfunctional home. Lots of people can probably relate, but like you said, it may not be attractive to read. I know some readers but they like fluffy pet stories, etc .I’m getting to the point where I don’t think my book will work. I’ve incorporated a lot of my poetry in the book where applicable. I too am introverted and middle aged and just wonder how much effort this will take?


  2. Alexander M Zoltai March 11, 2011 at 1:02 pm

    Yes, Karla, it takes time. I expect I’ll need to continue promoting my book long after its launch…

    And, to the comments I made about my book, about its subject matter being hard to sell, I could add that my blog, while sometimes a bit witty, is far from the humor I love so much on your blog

    Reaching readers could be done through networking with writers since they have readers and may want to recommend someone to them but, also, places like BestsellerBound, which specifically tries to connect writers and readers are invaluable………


  3. Catana March 11, 2011 at 1:51 pm

    I suppose what I’ve been doing for the last year could be considered relationship marketing. I just thought of it as sharing my work and ideas with readers and other writers, and encouraging them in their own work. I know that my stories will never have a big market and it was just by luck that I found sites where people would be interested in them. As you said, sites like Twitter and Facebook are too much “noise.” If you want to be noticed, you have to spend some time hunting for the high signal to noise ratio sites.


    • Alexander M Zoltai March 11, 2011 at 4:46 pm

      Well, Catana, I think sharing conversations here with folks like you and, in turn, visiting other’s sites is going to remain my prime promotion activity. Very clear signal :-)

      I am going to make time for BestsellerBound, too………


  4. Simone Benedict March 11, 2011 at 4:09 pm

    Excellent information in your post. Aside from the insanity of it all, do you feel the process has stolen writing time from you?


    • Alexander M Zoltai March 11, 2011 at 4:50 pm

      “Stolen”, Simone…?

      I can’t use that word really. I’m still writing this blog regularly and I have the sequel to Notes from An Alien buzzing in my unconscious, not yet ready to commit itself to the page…

      I feel like I really would be “unfaithful” to my current book if I launched into another project. Sort of like spacing the birth of children so each receives its due :-)


      • Simone Benedict March 11, 2011 at 5:11 pm

        Oops, stolen wasn’t the best word to use. I mainly wanted to know if you still had the energy to write and you answered that. :-)

        I suppose it is much like the traditional way of relationship building when writers went around the country talking to people about their books. I seem to remember you talked a bit about doing some of that. I’ve met quite a few writers travelling and selling their books. Perhaps the internet is just another method similar to that route?

        You raise an interesting question in your post. What sells a book? I was telling someone I know about your book and he was very interested as a reader. I’ll send him your way in May. Personally, I feel positive about your book. I think all of your hard work is going to pay off!


        • Alexander M Zoltai March 11, 2011 at 5:27 pm

          Well, thanks for that encouraging comment, Simone :-) and, you could send that interested reader my way now since I’m still offering the free pre-pub manuscripts

          I do feel the Internet is extending the old traveling author idea onto the digital highway and, especially, virtual worlds, like Second Life, where you can sit around with people from all over the world and read your book or talk about writing or just socialize :-)


          • Simone Benedict March 12, 2011 at 3:40 pm

            I’ve been trying to find readers for you who will pay for your book. :-)


            • Alexander M Zoltai March 12, 2011 at 3:48 pm

              Are you one of those people I mentioned in the post–a “sneezer”? ;-)


              • Simone Benedict March 12, 2011 at 4:13 pm

                I must be known as a sneezer. Someone in one of my social circles just sent me his vanity published book, um…postage due. The bigger problem is his book makes no sense whatsoever. I guess I must have some sort of reputation. It’s hard to sneeze though when there’s nothing to make you sneeze, lol.

                With your book though, it’s easy for me to identify who would be interested in reading it. As a member of the tribe, could I maybe have the function of Book Pusher? It’s more motivating to me than Sneezer. :-)


  5. cmmarcum March 12, 2011 at 3:45 pm

    Phew, I’m so glad to hear your advice about FB and Twitter, because I really can’t get into that. Thank goodness, I don’t have to go there. Sounds like your book is a bit too cerebral for them, anyway.

    Blogging may be a slow process, but I kind of like the way that I can forage for people of interest to me. Putting money and fame aside, better a few good friends that a thousand acquaintances. Right?

    One must know how to garden, before one can farm. ;)


    • Alexander M Zoltai March 12, 2011 at 4:06 pm

      Damn good word that–cerebral–and, yes, my book is more that than an emotional heart-grabber (though it does have its moments). My book deals with how to get from greed/war/violence to peace/equity/justice and the Earth has been dealing with the issue far too emotionally for far too long. Even if my book becomes a mere lonely fog-horn in the mists of culture’s irrational sea, it might save a few worthy souls…

      And, Yes, “better a few good friends than a thousand acquaintances”.


  6. Selena Wolff March 15, 2011 at 3:11 pm

    I just caught your article and I agree with Catana. Good name, relationship marketing. I am learning how blogging and connecting online offers much more than I expected, as I’ve met many virtual friends this way: and learned a ton.

    Thanks for being here, Alexander!


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