So what should the author do in preparation for the new book? I have no idea. I don't know that there is a "should" in this case. I've said before that my own promotional efforts have never caused a visible spike in sales. The only thing that has given me a sales bump was the release of the next book. I've also done a few rants about over-the-top or annoying author promotions. Honestly, there's a part of me that would like to ignore the whole promotional side completely.
I obviously don't do that. For the release of this book, I've worked on:
- Getting more ARCs printed, and getting those ARCs to more bloggers
- Setting up about seven booksignings in January/February, with at least one more to come (I hope)
- Touching base with some independent bookstores and sending them bookmarks/bookplates if they're interested
- Getting bookmarks to folks to set out at conventions (Thank you!)
- The joint contest with Joshua, Elizabeth, and Di
- Giving copies of the book out to bookstores
- Any number of interviews (mostly online, but at least one newspaper interview is in the works)
- Stepsister Scheme LJ icons (please help yourself!)
- Pre-release contests to win the remaining ARCs
- A book launch event at ConFusion next month
There's more I could be doing. I want to put a press release together for the local media, but I never seem to get around to that. I'd love to drive around to every bookstore in mid-Michigan, but I don't know if that's feasible. I also have to balance out all of this promotion with the fact that I like my family, and it's nice getting to see them on occasion.
So why do the promotional stuff at all? Booksignings rarely pay off -- I sold 25 books at the last one. At my royalties rate, that's about $12.50 before my agent takes his 15%. And I stayed there for about 5+ hours. So call it $2.00 an hour, give or take? (Before taxes, of course.)
After thinking about this stuff way too much for the past 4-5 years, here's my reasoning:
1. I'm a control freak. If I'm out there doing promotion, I feel like I have some control over the fate of my book. That feeling is 98% illusion, but I don't care. I'll cling to my delusions, because they help me stay sane.
2. The publisher appreciates it. I believe it was a sales catalog for DAW that was giving the sales points on Stepsister Scheme and included something like "Author has been active with promotion both online and in person at conventions and bookstores." Whether or not my efforts have a significant impact, the publisher notices those efforts.
3. No significant impact isn't the same as no impact at all. I think of promotion as a long-term, cumulative game. Maybe I sell 10 books at a signing, but now that bookstore knows my name and might be more likely to order my next books. And those 10 people have met the author in person -- if they like the books, they might share them with friends and pick up the next.
4. I trust myself to set limits. I could pack up the car and my new GPS, take two weeks off work, and do a blitz tour of every bookstore in 300 miles. A part of me would love to do just that, but I won't. Not fair to my family, and not fair to me. I do get pretty stressed around book release time, but I generally know when I'm pushing too hard or starting to neglect my family.
5. It's fun. I like meeting readers and booksellers. I enjoy blogging and putting together fun contests. The photos you all came up with for the last contest were awesome! I have a blast going to conventions and hanging out with fellow authors and fans.
Everyone's different. Some authors do a lot more than I do. Others do nothing at all, aside from writing the next book. There's no right answer, but it's something I think about. And what good is a blog if I can't share my long-winded pondering with the world? As always, I'm curious to hear other folks' thoughts on the whole promotional beast.
I'll leave you with this beautiful photo exapno took in her local Borders: