Do You Whore Your Book?

Once upon a time, there was a bookstore. Two little books stood on a shelf. Both told similar stories.

The first little book was a happy book, with a bright cover. It was not long before a reader came along. The reader was very excited to find this book, and she bought the book and took it home.

The other little book also had a bright cover, but it was a sad book. Readers never picked it up, and no one ever brought it home.

“Oh, woe is me,” the sad little book asked the jolly old bookseller when he came to restock the first little book. “Am I not colorful enough?”

“You are very colorful,” said the jolly old bookseller.

“Then why does no reader pick me up and take me home? Am I not written well enough?”

“You are beautifully written,” the jolly old bookseller replied.

“I am just like all the other books in your store,” the sad little book said. “Why oh why do I sit here collecting dust day after day?”

“Because,” the jolly old bookseller replied, “no one knows you are here. No one has ever heard of you. Your author does not tell anyone about you.”

“Who is my author?” the sad little book asked.

The jolly old bookseller checked the sad little book’s spine, then put it back on the shelf.

“I’m afraid I do not know who this author is,” the jolly old bookseller said. He then smiled and restocked the book he had sold.

The sad little book watched as the jolly old bookseller went about his business.

***

If the author fails to promote herself, no one will know about her books, or care what she has to say.

But when readers have heard of the author, they buy the book and take it home. When readers realize the book has important information, they buy the book and take it home.

Author self-promotion is necessary for most any book to succeed.

Self-promotion, however, does not come easy to most authors. The entire process of self-promotion seems distasteful. Writers often use the expression: “whoring one’s book.” The very idea of self-promotion feels that dirty.

Still, there is no getting around the obvious truth. Authors who do promote themselves do better than those who do not.

To be successful, the author must promote herself. Self-promotion is not “whoring herself.” Rather, self-promotion is the process of telling the public who she is and what she stands for.

However, if people do not buy her books, it will be impossible for her to make a living at writing those books.

There is no getting around the ugly truth: readers will not read an author’s work if they do not know who she is and if they have no interest in what she has written. No amount of great writing can overcome the requirement to self-promote one’s book.

It is odd. Many writers I have met say they have heard this advice told to them by their established peers:

Treat your writing like a business!

However, I am perplexed. These writers agree with this advice, but when pressed to answer what it means, they answer confusedly. They often say that “Treat your writing like a business” means “apply yourself,” to write regularly everyday. This is not “Treating writing like a business,” it is treating it like a “job.” Writing daily must be done, but it is not nearly enough to build a complete business.

Businesses have many things they must do. Accounting. Research and development. Customer service. And marketing. Most of all, businesses most market.

There are millions of authors writing books. Millions! Amazon now has more than eleven million titles to choose from. For each book published, there are maybe forty other aspiring authors trying to be published.

This is a crowded environment. Competition is fierce. Publishers only publish so many books. Booksellers can only carry so many titles. Book critics can only write so many reviews. The average reader reads only about sixteen titles a year (or twenty-four, if she has an e-reader).

An author must rise above the mass of titles to reach the very few profitable spots available. Writers must use marketing and self-promotion to win loyal readers.

Professional writers spend quality time in writing, and writing well. That is immutable. One cannot promote bad writing, and good writing takes time.

However, today’s book author must do more. Readers expect—in fact, they demand—that authors tweet and blog. Readers want to know in advance if they will enjoy the book. They want to know that it is worth the price. Readers will seek out reader-written reviews of the book. And in the end, they will pass on any book that smacks of mediocrity or obscurity.

Once upon a time, an author could lock himself in a remote cabin and writing the next Great American Novel. He did not worry about market forces. Book marketing and author promotion was once the domain of publishers, publicists and literary agents.

Those days are gone. They are lost to the Internet winds.

There is so much for authors to do in this age. No wonder we are seeing more involvement by marketing teams. Authors are employing business managers to handle the business end of the writing business. This is, in fact, one of my various services: I am an author’s business manager, as well as the owner and publisher of Flying Pen Press. I am putting my experience into a writer’s book-marketing guide, Fishnets & Platforms: The Writer’s Guide to Whoring Your Book.

I want to help teach authors ways to simplify book marketing and promotion efforts. Simplification is key, but simplification is not easy.

When marketing books, there are thousands of tricks, gimmicks and tools to choose from. Each tool will yield different results, and there are so many tools to pick from. Most authors become overwhelmed. This unpleasant state does not help the author tackle the marketing of her book.

I want my book to ease the discomfort and assist in the task. Fishnets and Platforms: The Writers Guide to Whoring Your Book will provide key principles to evaluate the feast of book-marketing goodies out there. It will help break the complex process into small, easy-to-follow steps. The book will give each author her own simple marketing plan that will make her comfortable.

Heck, forget comfortable, I want you to be passionate about your marketing plan.

Writing business tends to be a shoestring business. This is another obstacle. There are rarely any capital reserves available. Most authors fund themselves with lunch money and a tapped-out credit card. In the face of this, marketing may seem impossible because marketing is traditionally expensive. Advertising is not cheap, and while advertising is a good investment, only big investors can afford it.

Fishnets and Platforms: The Writers Guide to Whoring Your Book will bring good news. The Internet and social media are here to help. These are the most effective book-marketing tools and they are pleasantly cheap. Many such tools are free. Rather than spending dollars, authors need only spend the time. Money cannot buy time, so all writers—from bestselling icons to the homeless man with a pencil and a dream—are on equal footing. And the beauty of the Internet is that the time required to wield these tools shrinks day by day.

There is no excuse. An author can and must market her books relentlessly, and she must promote herself shamelessly. And she can sell her book without selling her dignity.

Question to my readers: What does “Treat your writing like a business” mean to you?

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About David Rozansky

Publisher of Flying Pen Press; Author's Business Manager; Author of Fishnets & Platforms: The Writers Guide to Whoring Your Book; Aviator; Author; Adventurer.
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