Every week I get questions like this: “I don’t have a book out yet [or my first book came out last year], but do you think I need to have a website, a blog, a newsletter, be on Facebook and LinkedIn and Goodreads, and also tweet on Twitter daily? Is all this self-promotion necessary?”
I wish I knew!
A Voice of Reason
If you believe everything you read that “they say,” you might think you needed to do all that self-promotion. However, I’m inclined to think James Scott Bell in his book The Art of War for Writers is closer to the mark. In talking about self-promotion, he said, “The more anxious you are about forcing success through self-promotional effort, the less creative energy you have for the writing itself.”
Why? “Because,” Bell says, “the most important promotional tool you have is your best book. Period.”
Creating that “best book” of which you’re capable takes hours and hours of writing and revising, learning new skills, honing your craft, your heart and soul, your blood, sweat and tears. He cautions writers not to dilute their strengths by obsessing over promotion. (Isn’t that a breath of fresh air?)
Good, Better, Best
Bell gives an interesting list of the “ten best forms of self-promotion.” Only one item on the list deals with the Internet. He simply calls #4 on the list your “web presence.” Guess what SIX of the items on the list are. Your book. He says that a good book–and the word of mouth it generates–will do more for your sales than all the Internet marketing efforts put together. That has been my experience personally, but it’s rare to find such a successful author say so. Rare and refreshing!
Concerning the questions I receive weekly about Internet promotion: I think I’m going to start quoting Bell’s book from now on. His simple guideline for “how much” self-promotion to do is this:
“Do what you can without (a) taking away from the quality of your writing time; (b) taking away from the quality of personal relationships, and (c) taking on debt.”
Now that’s food for a lot of thought.