After attending RWA Nationals earlier this year I patted myself on the back for reaching out to strangers and networking. Little did I know that was only the beginning. And, in case you’re wondering, it doesn’t get easier with practice, at least not for me.
This little introvert found an agent without really querying when Andrea Somberg from the Harvey Klinger agency loved PULL. After judging my manuscript in the 2009 Golden Rose contest, I signed with her in January and she sold PULL to WestSide books in March. WestSide loved the book so much they were willing to cut corners and rush it into production as part of their fall, 2010 lineup. At that point I thought my work was done.
I put together a list of things to do next:
Revise manuscript (a little)
Cash my check
Review and OK the edits
I quickly discovered I was hopelessly naïve. While writing PULL I had been my own boss and sole employee, meaning my deserted island was populated by me, myself and I. I reveled in the solitude. The problem is that the act of writing is only part of the author’s job description. If you want what you have written to be read, then writing is more than just a job, it’s a business enterprise. That meant that a lot of steps were missing from my list. And that this shy writer needed to step so far outside her comfort zone she might never find her way back again.
I’d been warned about the thing called promotion. I belong to RWA, my local chapter, and several special interest chapters. I read blogs and studied both craft and the business end of writing. I swear I paid attention, I knew I had to do something to get myself and my book known. But somehow my brain refused to think about what promotion really meant to me. That I would be required to get our from behind my computer, put down my writing pad, and meet people. Total strangers. A lot of them.
My business enterprise needed new positions. I found myself assuming the mantle of director of marketing and director of PR (no, those aren’t the same thing), and added more items to my list:
Set up website and keep it current
Make Facebook friends
Plan a publicity campaign
Press the flesh
Oh, and never forget the need to return to the keyboard and put out the next book. For the past few months these activities have filled my life and crowded out the all important next book.
When people tell you about promotion, don’t take it lightly. Yes, the publisher takes on part of the burden, but a lot still falls on me. People want to know about the author of the books they read, to feel a connection. Name recognition counts in politics and sales. I know I buy more from authors I feel I know. I even considered hiring a publicist. Unfortunately I’m only small potatoes. After our initial discussions she never got back to me with a proposal, so once again it’s me, myself and I.
I’ve turned myself and my car into walking and rolling advertisements. I have engaged in some interesting tweet-fests, tweeteractions, tweet-ins or whatever they should be called, and accumulated over a hundred followers on twitter (I know, I need to have thousands, but it’s a start). Facebook has allowed me to reconnect with old friends and meet new authors, although I’m not sure how I’m doing in terms of attracting possible readers. And I have now shaken so many hands and complimented so many children that I could run for political office. Practice doesn’t make perfect, by the way, it barely makes being out in public tolerable. But even though I can’t yet be called a social butterfly, I do understand why getting out there and meeting people is necessary. And VistaPrint has become my new best friend, although it’s amazing how much “free stuff” ends up costing me.
And I will admit that it’s nice to hear someone say they remember me, even if I have no idea where I saw him or her before. And I received a personal email from a high school youth--my intended audience--who read an ARC, scored my book 9.5 on a scale of 10 AND enthusiastically commented about the story and the characters. He even recommended PULL to his English teacher. Maybe I’m not the raving introvert I thought I was, because I want to go out and give him a giant hug.
I’ll be having small parties with my writing groups to celebrate the release of PULL, all people I’m already friends with and comfortable being around. My local library has sponsored me to speak in November. I’ll be talking the people about the business of writing and call that a party to, bring refreshments and books to sign. Instead I’m planning an online party for my release day, October 27. I’m also planning an on-line party on October 27. Join in via twitter at #BABinns to chat about the book, or about being a shy writer, ask questions about promotion or anything else you desire. There will be door prizes, including gift cards and autographed copies of PULL.
And, somehow, I WILL get back to the solitary joy of writing.
And this time I really mean it.
BIO: B. A. Binns is the pseudonym of Barbara Binns, a Chicago Area author who finds writing an exercise in self discipline, and the perfect follow-up to her life as an adoptive parent and cancer survivor. She is a member of RWA (Romance Writers of America), the Chicago Writers Association, SCBWI (Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators) and YALSA (Young Adult Library Services Association). She writes to attract and inspire both male and female readers with stories of “real boys growing into real men…and the people who love them.”
PULL, her debut YA novel, tells the story of a young man’s journey from guilt and the fear that biology forces him to repeat his father’s violence, to the realization that his future is in his own hands. Published by WestSide Books, PULL is available October 27, 2010 at your favorite bookstore or online bookseller.
For more information please visit http://www.babinns.com/, or email firstname.lastname@example.org