Robert Evert
Robert Evert asked Michael J. Sullivan:

Could you talk a little bit about the "non-writing" aspects of being a writer...such as the need to market your own books, etc? Thanks, Mr. Sullivan!

Michael J. Sullivan Hey Robert,
Thanks so much for asking. I think there is a huge misconception, especially among writers who are still working toward publication, that if they traditionally publish, they don't have to worry about marketing their books. The assumption is that the publisher will do it for you. There are a few important points to note about this.

1. Yes, if you have a really large advance (in excess of six-figures), then you will generally have a marketing budget and your publisher is going to marketing for you. They'll focus on advanced reading copies and make them available to large number of people. New authors rarely are put on "book tours" as they don't yet have an audience.

2. If you get a "standard advance" which is about $5,000 - $10,000 per book, then I wouldn't expect too much. You're book will be listed in the publisher's catelog (which is a tool for coporate buyers not readers) and you might have some advance copies, but that's really about all you'll see.

3. In general, publishers don't market to readers. They are focusing on "industry people" like buyers at book chain stores. They are starting to change in this regard...it started with outreach to bloggers, and nowadays they do utilize things like goodreads ads (or at least mine has), but in it's something they are just starting to get a feel for and are still very far behind what is generally needed to get the book noticed.

4. Publishers always have a new batch of books coming out each month, so if you do get promotion help...it's going to be pretty short-lived (a few weeks to a few months). Once that is done, they have to focus on the next batch.

I started out with all this to explain my next point, which is from my perspective I think it doesn't matter whether you self-publish or traditionally publish, you...and only you...are 100% dedicated to your book's success so you really need to shoulder the burden yourself. If you are traditionally published, and your publisher does some stuff for you, great. But consider this "extra" not "the only" publicity for the book.

Keep in mind that writing a book is really hard...and in many cases the realization of a life long dream. To me it would be unconscionable to not do everything I could to let people know about the book. If they read it and don't like it, well that's one thing. But if they never know it exists? Well then shame on me for getting so close to my dream, but not doing everything in my power to make it come true.

So yes...by all means you need to spend time on the "non-writing" aspects.

Now I'm going to throw a bit of kink in. Because early on, I think you need to focus most on getting a body of work out there...then worry about getting people to know about them. My rule of thumb is when you have less than 3 books out, you should be spending 90% - 95% of your time writing other books. With that remaining 5% - 10% of the time, you should work on getting people to review your books...that's because until you get 10 - 15 reviews per book I wouldn't do much to promote them as people may come to the book page, but leave without pulling the trigger because they are afraid of being the guinea pig.

I have a forum: (http://www.reddit.com/r/Write2publish) where I give a lot of advice about how to market your book. Look at the links on the right hand side. I even have a whole section on goodreads, and two really good posts about getting people to review your books.

That's a lot of information, so feel free to follow up if you want me to dig in with more details on a specific area.

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