What New Authors Should Know About Self-Promotion

by Alycia King

headshotBeing an author is a lot more than simply writing a book. Laurence Shatkin, a senior product developer for JIST Publishing, spends up to two hours a week promoting his books and himself.

During that two hours each week, he maintains his website, Facebook fan page, Amazon author page, LinkedIn profile, Twitter feed and blog. Shatkin says even though his self-promotion efforts haven’t placed him on the bestsellers list, they have allowed him to establish a reputation in his field of specialization.

“Celebrities who write books can get publicity fairly easily, but the rest of us need to work at it constantly,” he says. “The publisher’s publicist may work with you and give you advice, but you will need to do much, or all, of the work.”

The author of more than a dozen books like “300 Best Jobs Without a Four-Year Degree” and “Panicked Student’s Guide to Choosing a College Major: How to Confidently Pick Your Ideal Path” says publishers expect authors to self-promote. But just because it’s expected doesn’t make it easy. There are even parts that are difficult for experienced self-promoters like Shatkin.

“The hardest part for me is thinking up new ideas for blog topics,” he says. “Sometimes I strip mine one of my books, especially one that I know will not get a second edition. Sometimes I’m lucky enough to see a news item that provides inspiration.”

For new authors, who might feel a bit overwhelmed with all the different aspects of self-promotion, the seasoned self-promoter recommends starting with a Twitter feed because, according to Shatkin, “it does not require a huge commitment of time or of writing effort and it creates the platform for publicizing other efforts at promotion, such as a blog or lecture series.”

But what is the benefit of all the hard work authors put in to self-promotion efforts?

“New writers have to establish a reputation,” Shatkin says. “Just being signed or having a book in print is not enough. New writers have to create public awareness of themselves and what they have to say. Often the second book is harder to sell than the first one because the first one did not get traction with the buying public.”