In my day job I sell people on the merits of my employer; that is what we do in public relations. One of the things I like about PR is that I’m promoting work that is not mine and people who are not me. That is much harder to do when the product is my book and the author is me.
Quick story: Despite being pretty shy in person I decided to run for Senior Class President of my undergraduate college. There were three candidates. On election day, about two hours before the polls closed, I ran into two close friends of mine in one of the school’s dining halls. We had a great time, chatting about this and that over cafeteria-style food. I thought “I should ask them if they remembered to vote,” but it seemed rude and insulting. I lost the election by one vote; my two friends had forgotten to vote.
The story ends well; some great things happened my senior year that would not have been possible had I not lost. But I’ve been thinking back on that long-ago election as the publication date of my first book–Committed: A Memoir of the Artist’s Road—approaches. I know I have friends near me and online who would be happy to help were I to ask, just like my two friends in college who were mortified when they realized they had forgotten to vote, but also peeved at me for not reminding them.
In discussing this the other day with a friend visiting from out of town, she helped me take the pressure off of myself somewhat by pointing out the publication of a book is not like an election. I don’t have to have everything happen on one day. The book first becomes available in mid-October directly from the publisher, but then is available broadly in November (ebook, online and physical stores, etc.), and will continue to be available–as books are–in December, in 2015, and beyond. Ask one person to help now, she recommended, and maybe someone else in a few days or weeks. Take it slow.
And so yesterday I started slow, responding to two requests I had already received to help market Committed. I emailed a copy of the uncorrected proof to one blogger who has offered to review it, and I responded to a q&a that another blogger sent me that she’ll post on her blog. I have a few more outstanding offers to respond to; at that point I’ll get up my nerve to start asking others.
How do you feel about the need for artists in the digital age to promote themselves?