Notes from An Alien

~ Explorations In Reading, Writing & Publishing ~

Still More Conversation about Book Promotion . . .

This discussion began on November 7th and continued on Nov. 9th… Book Promotion

We’ve talked a bit about the book Be the Gateway and dealt with having no idea how to promote a book and Book Fairs and Book Talks; and, here we are with the following comment (which is letting us continue the conversation) from an accomplished author from Australia:

“I think that true promotion requires reaching out to other people – it’s not bashing them over the head. As Dan says: ‘…It means we have to engage with other human beings…’

“I think ‘engage’ is an important word here.

“My first publisher, who was mainstream, insisted that folks needed to hear about (be bashed over the head about) a book eleven times before they remembered it properly and they would then buy it. Apparently this method meant that the publisher thought it would be a good idea if I spoke on the ‘Overnight Racing Channel’. You can imagine the scene:

“‘…and here’s Roadrunner going down the strait; a length away from Black Caviar; and, here’s Jane Watson, who has just written a novel. Thanks for coming in, Jane’.

“You need to engage with other like-minded people who may want to read your book.

“A book is not a bar of soap… or, a racehorse…”

I must restate that last Truth:

“A book is not a bar of soap… or, a racehorse…”

Though, there are those authors who treat books as mere commodities; and, sad to say, there are mere commodities that try to pretend they’re real, honest “books”…

I know our Australian author; and, just to make the publisher’s lack of professionalism clear, her book has absolutely nothing to do with horse racing…

BTW, the publisher was Picador / Pan Macmillan Australia…

Now, I’m compelled to share the Etymology of “Engage”, since our author emphasised it

“early 15c., ‘to pledge’ (something, as security for payment), from Old French engagier ‘bind (by promise or oath), pledge; pawn’ (12c.), from phrase en gage ‘under pledge’, from en ‘in’ (see en- (1)) + gage ‘pledge’, through Frankish from Proto-Germanic *wadiare ‘pledge’ (see wed). It shows the common evolution of Germanic -w- to central French -g- (see gu-).

“Meaning ‘attract and occupy the attention of’ is from 1640s; that of ’employ, secure for aid, employment or use’ is from 1640s, from notion of ‘binding as by a pledge’; meaning ‘enter into combat or contest with’ is from 1640s. Specific sense of ‘promise to marry’ is 1610s (implied in engaged). Machinery sense is from 1884. Also from the French word are German engagiren, Dutch engageren, Danish engagere.”

I must admit, there are a few historical meanings of engage that don’t fit our author’s use of the word: “bind” [though, “promise” or “oath” could apply…], “pawn”, “employ”, “combat or contest” [though, too many folks feel they do apply to book promotion]; yet, “promise to marry” does have a bit of pertinence here, if taken metaphorically…

I believe an author’s choice of the “inappropriate” meanings of engage comes from their feeling that other folks need to be forced into making a decision to buy a book; and, if not clearly forced, then heavily coerced…

Yes, the number of books being published is large and constantly growing; but, most of them won’t sell well; so, why try to engage with an attitude of force—it is still true that honey attracts better than vinegar…


My interpretation of Engaging people to consider your book is quite similar to traditional engagement vows—it’s a two-way deal—the author is making a vow that their presentation of the book is true and fair; and, the reader is vowing to give the book a fair chance…

Or, you can beat them over the head until a few succumb and buy the book and never finish reading it because they have a hangover from your selling them a commodity…

And, what about your second and further books—don’t you want a truly enthusiastic reader?

Naturally, you must tell them the truth when your promoting—nothing worse than comparing a book to famous authors’ works when it’s far from them; but then, it’s so easy in our culture to absorb the ploys and gimmicks of advertisers…


What have you done in the way of Book Promotion…?

What do you already know for sure about Book Promotion…?

Who could you recommend who knows how to promote books…?

Why do books need careful and devoted promotion…?

Where should books be promoted…?

Does it takes a lot of money to promote books…?

Does an author have to hire others to successfully promote a book…?

Care to share some of your experience with Book Promotion…?

Want to be the first to share a comment so this conversation can continue…? :-)
If you don’t see a way to comment, try the link at the upper right of this post…
Our Blog Conversations are on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays—the rest of the week, I share valuable posts from other blogs

For Private Comments or Questions, Email: amzolt {at} gmail {dot} com

One response to “Still More Conversation about Book Promotion . . .

  1. Pingback: A Blog Conversation about Writers’ Groups . . . | Notes from An Alien

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