Rosanne Dingli

Rosanne Dingli

Friday, June 10, 2011

What publicity means to an author

"What - we need an article on this? We all know how important publicity is. We write and write, and want as many people as possible to read our books."
I hear you - I feel the same way. What does publicity mean, though - and how much thought do we give it as we go about our authorly business? It used to be that we sent off a book to a publisher, waited for the day of release, and then sat back to wait for various reviews to show up. We would snail-mail media releases out, and wait to be interviewed.
It is much faster now, and getting interviewed online is a snap. Reviews too pop up after the various book bloggers receive ARC copies your publisher sends out. It's wide-spread. It's easy, yes. But what does it really mean to you, the author?

"It means there's a lot more for us to do."
You got it. The onus of acquiring exposure is almost wholly and solely on the author's own desk. Interviews are time-consuming. Making lists of people to approach - ditto. Promotions are your concern, and you are either going to take it on, and face all its daunting tasks, or risk a black void. The dreaded black-out where no one knows about you, your name, your work ... no one will buy your books. It is a cliched truism: no one can purchase something they have no idea exists.
Pic courtesy

Publicity means hard work to the author: raising awareness that your book exists is no mean feat. Getting those books into shopping bags is easier said than done. And there are more places than shopping bags: you need to get eBooks onto digital appliances. How are readers going to download your novel if they have no idea you have written it?

"Isn't that what publicists are for?"
Yes, but publicists cost money - a lot of it. You might find some that advertise low-cost packages, but they are inundated with thousands of requests, of which yours will be just another one. You will be dealt the same deal as thousands of others, which is almost the same as not doing anything, if you have so much competition. You need something unique to you and your books, something only you can obtain for yourself, in a different kind of mix or 'package' from every other author out there. The clamour is such that what you devise needs to be select and tailored to the genre, subject matter, theme and purpose of your book.

"And only I can do that!"
Exactly. You do, however, have help. It comes in the shape and form of other writers, the fans you already have, your list of perfect outlets on the Internet, (what - you haven't made one up yet?) and the media kit you so lovingly put together. Oh yes - you have a lot to do. Your publisher seeks publicity too, so you can ride along on that for a while, but your publisher will love you to pieces if your publicity works along with theirs. Their objective is to make money selling as many books as possible, which matches your drive, enthusiasm and motivation, with one major difference.

"They do not only want to sell mine!"
You're getting good at this. Quite right - their objective is to sell as many of their books as they can, by all their authors, not just you. Only you are as passionately interested in your success as you are. So what this means to you is simple. You need to attract likely customers. Find links that will match your particular, special, important unique latest release to readers who are actively seeking something just like it.

"It's too late now - my book has been out for some time."
Don't give me that - it's never too late. Technology has developed to the point that many books now will never go out of print. So jump to it - to a reader looking for a good read, any book they have not heard of yet is a new book. This means your market is huge: a whole world of readers who have not yet heard of your book. And when you find them, they'll have found you.

Let me know if you have discovered any publicity outlets or recipes that work. What's your favourite kind of promotion? What works best for you? If you are a reader - what kind of publicity confirms that a particular book is right for you?


  1. A very stimulating piece, Rosanne, with some helpful clues that writers aspiring to greater things (like me) can follow. Thank you!

  2. I suppose it comes down to the fact that there is a very real business aspect to being a writer. You have a product and you have to sell it. However this idea still goes against the grain of the (self) image of the writer as an artist, where it is assumed that the one thing to be good at is to be creative and innovative. This self image may be the thing that stops many writers from being more successful than they are.

  3. It is this duality of purpose that stumps many writers, it's true Hugo.

    Thank you, Stephen - sharing clues is useful among writers.

  4. Hard for us shy, retiring types but I guess it's part of the job. Lots of useful information here. Thanks, Rosanne.

  5. True, Helen - the roles of author and promoter are diametrically opposed. One needs a different set of skills for each - but learning is part of the fun.