Some people believe all writers do is write. After we’re done with one book we launch right into another. I wish!! There was a time when a writer could count on their publisher doing all the PR work. Publishing houses had whole departments for promoting their lists. They scheduled book tours/signings, placed your books in all the right stores, and ran ads in the papers and magazines with the highest reader numbers in your market. Not anymore.
Yes, the big houses still have advertising departments. Unfortunately, unless you’re one of the top-of-the-list big-buck-earning authors on their list, they expect you to do not all, but much of the work yourself. Beginning with my initial query/submission, I have to prove that I am both willing and able to promote myself before they’ll even consider signing me. I blame the internet.
The internet has supplied us with all the resources we need to do our own PR. I have a Facebook author page, I tweet, and, of course, I blog. All means for getting my name out there and building a fan base even before I’m ready to submit my first novel. I will also be expected, after publication, to buy tables at festivals and craft shows so I can sell copies of my book. I will need to schedule book readings/signings at local libraries and bookstores.
There are also the business cards and bookmarks I already carry everywhere to hand out to anyone interested. Anything that will help people remember my name, anything to prove to a publisher that I can do my part.
Agents want to receive, along with a query letter, synopsis, and sample chapters, my market and a list of already published books that are similar to mine. They want me to convince them my book is worth the time and effort they would need to negotiate a publishing contract. Naming my market is easy, women over thirty. Determining which similar books will best sell mine is a little tougher. I would like to include three. I’ve currently put together a list and am reading them so I can have a list ready for submission next week. So far, one is a definite inclusion.
With all this put out there to sell myself, I will then, and only then, be able to go back to work on my next book while waiting to hear the verdict on my first.