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    Promotion

    Promotion is the curse word of the writing world. Authors want to write, they don't want to promote. Publishers don't want to spend the money. But how are readers going to identify your work if you don't tell them who you are and what you write?

    There are no simple solutions. Most writers start off naively believing someone else will handle this problem for them. That's true for big name authors who get publisher funding to pay for countrywide book signing tours and radio spots. But if you have a book coming out in three months and your publisher says do the best you can, how will you promote your work?

    Here are a few guidelines to consider:

    • Don't overspend. Promotion money is not necessarily equal to the value you get from it. A first time romance author I know with a big name house bought a whole cover page ad from Romantic Times. It ended up costing her as much as she made on the whole book, which was the average amount you could expect from a first time author.

    • Build your promotional base slowly. Readers might go out for something flashy the first time, like a big contest or an interesting gimmick. But will they buy your next book and the one after that without the flash? Think slow but steady. It will help you define your audience and bring loyal readers to your work.

    • Do what you can. Becoming a well known, well-paid author is a long-term proposition. Putting yourself into debt on your first book is not the best way to start. Look around for ways to promote yourself that won't mortgage your house or spend your son's college fund.

    There are lots of opportunities for an author to promote their work. The hardest part is taking advantage of them. Promotion isn't fun for most writers. They aren't salespeople and they don't want to hawk their own wares. But in today's market, understanding sales is as important as understanding prepositions. Accept it as a fact-of-life and have a good time with it. Don't overload yourself and look for ways to promote that will bring you long-term benefits without short-term bankruptcy.

    Five sure-fire ways to promote that won't cost you an arm and a leg:

    1. Your own web page. Web hosting is cheap and set up is free if you do it yourself. There is a plethora of advice and freebies you can find to link your readers to your work. While you're at it, buy your own domain. It's not that expensive and it looks great!

    2. Workshops. Workshops are designed to share your knowledge with other people. Libraries and bookstores are looking for events to keep their patrons coming in. You know things that other people want to hear. New writers are hungry for information on what it's like to be published. It only takes a little time and imagination to set something in motion.

    3. Become an expert. Being published makes you an expert on something, even if it's just writing and publishing. But almost every writer does some kind of research for his or her books too. Use that research to be come an expert who can speak on radio and television about a particular subject AND your book.

    4. Book signings and readings. Stores host these for free. Don't forget to give out flyers, bookmarks, and business cards about your present work and coming work. Make a good impression with your smile and speak to everyone whether they buy a book or not.

    5. Join writer's groups online and in real time. Writer's groups are wonderful ways to relieve stress and meet other writers, editors, publishers, and agents. Writer's groups can make important links between you and readers with conferences and other events that bring you together with the people who buy your books.

    This is only a small list of ways to bring your work to readers. Be creative! Look for opportunities to let people know that you're an author and that what you write is important. If you don't promote yourself, no one else will do it for you.

    Next time: So you want to write science fiction

    Copyright © 2001 Joyce Lavene

    Joyce Lavene, who writes with her husband/partner Jim, is the author of 40 novels including an award winning mystery series and a romance nominated for the Frankfurt EBook Award for 2000. She's also been published in sci-fi, fantasy, and non-fiction. When she isn't writing, Joyce paints in watercolors and is a practicing herbalist. She and her husband are graphic artists who have created many book covers and professional photographers. They are currently working on five separate series of novels, each for a different publishing house! Joyce is active with RWA and The Mystery Writers of America. She lives and works in North Carolina, USA, with her three children and two grandchildren. She and her husband welcome their readers to their homepage: http://www.joyceandjimlavene.com.

    The Authentic Self: Journaling Your Joys, Griefs and Everything in Between by Shery Russ



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