So you’ve written yourself a book. Congratulations – you did it! We’re so proud of you!
You survived, even though you ignored your body for months, feeding it only dark roast, Cabernet Sauvignon, and cashews. Your family survived, too, even though you missed tooth fairy assignments, picking up your oldest from soccer practice multiple times, and you didn’t even realize your spouse started a new job.
You don’t have any friends anymore, but you did it! You wrote a BOOK. Time to celebrate.
Not so fast.
You must now spend all of your relational capital convincing all of your friends (and their friends) to spend $9 to purchase your newborn book, and also to share that book with all of their friends.
This is called “getting the word out.”
Your publishers will set up marketing meetings with lots of people on the conference call, but the agenda is basically a blank sheet of paper with the words, “You must increase your platform” on the top. It’s totally up to you to fill it in with creative ideas (BTW: Though I am positive that Krista Tippett, Rob Bell, and Glennon Doyle Melton would all love your first book, let’s assume – just to be on the safe side – that they’re not slam dunks to promote it).
You begin shamelessly contacting podcast hosts, semi famous authors, and Stephen King (why not?) with your PITCH. You’ve discovered that your book has a “promise” which you must become at expert at selling. You start writing query emails, and at first you try the funny/unique approach, including your take on that obscure part of their book/podcast/show that you found hilarious, to let the podcast host/author/person know that you love their work, but not so much that you seem creepy (But then you wonder if you did seem a little creepy after you sent it)*.
You then spend the next seventeen days checking your email every seven minutes. When you don’t hear back from them, you finally send a much shorter, much more serious “just following up on my previous, desperate email asking to be a guest on your podcast/show/son’s bar mitzvah” and you feel like a complete loser when you press send**.
Then, you score a spot on a podcast!!! Yes! But the host talks over you, hasn’t read your book at all, and mispronounces your name***. When it’s all over you promise yourself you won’t listen to it, but then you do anyway, and you can’t believe you described your audience as “post-post-Christian” and you name dropped Anne Lamott, whose books you love but whom you have never met.
It’s then that you realize the sale of your book is really all up to you and your friends. So you turn to Facebook, where good books go to die.
You create a strategy, which is basically making sure no less than 36 book related posts go out in the first two weeks after release, because you know if you don’t sell your book fast and furiously, it’ll disappear. You check your Amazon sales rank no less than 1200 times during those first two weeks. You beg for reviews and then feel secretly incensed when only 11 people actually write them. You consider making up dozens of fake emails and writing reviews.
You try Twitter, but then you immediately realize Twitter is absolutely hostile to the promotion of books, so you try Instagram. At first you type in the short link to your book into the comment section, and then your friend kindly lets you know you’re supposed to put the “link in profile,” but by then you’ve made such a buffoon of yourself that you draw back your bloody stump of a marketing plan and go back to Facebook.
So, hey. If you have a friend that is releasing a book, give her some slack. She’s trying her best. Yeah, she’s over sharing. Yeah, it’s getting a bit irksome. Yeah, she probably hasn’t showered lately. Here’s what she’s trying to do:
She’s trying to tell you that she worked really hard on this book, for months and even years, and that it really matters to her, that she’s afraid no one will buy it, but that you should give it a shot, because there are a few spots in it that are actually quite lovely. And it’s only $9! Come on! Buy the book!
I host a weekly podcast. I wrote a book. I have a website. I am the pastor at a great little church. I am sometimes available to travel to hang with your tribe to help you all become more you. And yes, I do Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Oh, and if you’d like to stay up to date with my writing and events and such, you can subscribe to my email list. There. We’re all caught up.
* I actually just did this last week.
** I’ve absolutely done this, just not this time around – yet.
* * * This has happened to me twice.