Marketing and PR is a dark art. Authors can behave badly when they expect such work as part of a contract. But behaving badly isn’t very accurate. Authors behave blindly. Many expect publishing pros to just do their jobs, somewhere out of the author’s sight, thank you. The authors who take an interest in marketing and PR’s details, as practiced in traditional publishing, often have a book in the wings, or recently released. They are sometimes asking around because the discovery and sale of their books hasn’t been what’s expected. Or they already have a book and know they’re not getting a service that they know will make a difference to discovery.
I’ve worked in publishing all my life, and the lessons don’t vary (in spirit) from what we learned as periodical editors. Connect with your readers. Raise your flag. Pitch everywhere. Build a following.
So, get onto YouTube. Post on Instagram. Whatever you do, keep it short. It’s 2021 and the noise out there is profound.
Making an effort to get explanations, in full, is probably going to mean a professional engagement to extract the wisdom, like the kind a lawyer delivers as an attorney. If you’re already paying a PR and marketing pro on your own, good for you.
Where to go to learn publishing
Do you read the books or attend online classes from former Writers Digest editor Jane Friedman? How about Anne Trubek, publisher at Belt Press? Maybe you’re a reader of an industry veteran like Mike Shatzkin, or others who are selling, even giving away instruction and practices about marketing and PR. David Gaughran gives away so much instruction about building mailing lists. Asking how to do this work for yourself is a wonderful inquiry.
Asking a pro how marketing and PR is done, customarily, delivers the process which the publishing pro practices, or sees the industry applying. You may not get the full range of possibilities if you ask, “So how do you do your marketing job?” Better, consider what the responsibilities of the author are after getting a big contract with a swell agent.
Jamie Brickhouse wrote a memoir, after he went into recovery after living the high life of a publicity pro for the Big Five houses. He led us through the basics of PR in a talk at the Writers’ League of Texas Agents and Editors conference. Jamie said, “You should know that you’re the only person in the world who gets up every day and says, “How is my book doing?'” Even with publisher help available for PR, he advised us all to help ourselves, so we could give our books every chance they deserve.