The Complete Shirker’s Guide to Book Marketing

Proof of non-shirking: At BookWorks, Albuquerque. Photo by Diane Schmidt

You may have noticed that I haven’t blogged here for a while. Or you may not have–which is worse.

I realize that I have been shirking my self-promotional duties, including blogging. And if I can’t get it together to talk about my work, I can’t expect anyone else to, right? But as a result of a nagging suspicion that I’ve missed the book marketing boat–not to mention the sense that the world is going to hell in a hand basket–I’ve been feeling kind of paralyzed.

The Big Unshining

Every author fears the day when her book is no longer shiny and new. Sad but true: The unshining begins the day after your book is published. As anyone who has ever browsed book marketing websites and/or listened to webinars is aware, you are supposed to start creating a buzz for your book well before it hits the market.

It doesn’t help that authors almost immediately start getting THE QUESTION from well-intended people who like your book: “What are you working on next?”

“But wait,” you think. “I’ve just finished a book that took me more than a decade to get to press. Can’t I rest on my laurels a little?” Then you start pondering that expression. You know laurels are the leafy wreaths that the ancient Greeks got for winning naked athletic contests, but don’t know why anyone would want to rest on them because they look a tad scratchy, especially on a bare butt, especially if they’re made out of gold.

Getting naked for laurel wreaths, not money

A Google search reveals that laurel angst is a modern phenomenon:

The Romans borrowed the idea and began presenting laurel wreaths to victorious military commanders. But there was no implication that ‘resting’ on them was bad. Roman generals could spend the rest of their careers savouring their past successes.  The negative connotation, and the saying, only came about millennia after the decline of the Ancient Greek and Roman empires.

Maybe the dictate against talking up earlier achievements rose out of an attempt to get high school jocks to stop blabbing about their glory days.

See, there’s the problem in a nutshell. Paralysis — and procrastination. I spend far more time contemplating figures of speech than I do on marketing my book.

The Big Unshirking

But it’s time, I’ve finally decided, to snap out of my doldrums.

In the interests of convincing myself, I’ve devised a few tips for similarly discouraged authors.

1. Remember that book marketing is a marathon, not a sprint

This is something a good friend who knows a lot about the topic told me early on but that I keep forgetting. I now have this slogan taped up over my desk. Along with a lot of website passwords that I can’t remember.

The fact is, there are many ways to bring your book into public attention over time — some that you might even be comfortable with. So…

2. Stop beating yourself up

But it’s your favorite sport, you say, and you’re so good at it. Consider taking up tennis instead. It burns more calories.

Everyone has her own process. Many writers churn out another book as quickly as possible to draw attention to a previous one. Me, I’m the type of person who endlessly tinkers over the first paragraph of an article before I can finish it. It took me days to write this blog post.

Churning is not an option.

3. Do a shirker reality check

It turns out that I did quite a bit of marketing before I published my book, a fact that I conveniently forgot while indulging in my favorite recreational sport (see No. 2, above).  It was called conducting a Kickstarter campaign. A successful one, in fact, and one that led to many pre-sales of my book.

And even if I haven’t talked them up here, I’ve made several forays into marketing recently:

Queen Madeleine on her throne at Peregrine Books in Prescott, Arizona. She is not shirking.

I also pitched a story about the book tour to And got it accepted. Just because the story hasn’t come out yet, that doesn’t mean I didn’t write it. Or that it won’t appear any minute. [Update: And here is Creating a Successful Book Tour: Five Tips From an Indie Author]

And in the meantime, Booklife highlighted GETTING NAKED’s glowing Publisher’s Weekly review in its weekly newsletter.

  • As an outgrowth of sending around copies of my book to people whom I respect/who appear in it/who might blurb it/all of the above several months ago, this turned up on my Facebook page:

For the uninitiated, David Fitzsimmons is the award-winning political cartoonist for the Arizona Daily Star, where I worked for 10 minutes. I would be happy to take him up on that comedy writing second career idea if I could figure out what my first career was.

Moral of the story: You never know when or where some of the marketing seeds you’ve scattered will take root.

  • I gave an interview to Jay Artale of Birds of a Feather Press.  She asked great questions, including: “What tips or advice would you give an aspiring indie author who is looking to self-publish?” “What impact do you want your books to have on your readers?” And that dreaded question — which didn’t sound so bad, the way she phrased it: “What’s next on your writing journey?” You can decide for yourself whether or not I gave great answers to her great questions.
  • Also, the world really is going to hell in a hand basket. We can all forgive ourselves for being a bit distracted.

4. Make more plans

So now that I’ve convinced myself that I’m not the complete shirker I thought I was, and that book marketing is an ongoing process — for better or for worse — I’ve started making more plans. I’ll tell you about them soon, I promise.

Okay, I hope. I hear the rate of shirker recidivism is high.

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About the Author

Edie Jarolim is a writer and editor living in Tucson, Arizona. Sign up on this blog to get updates about her humorous tell-all/memoir, GETTING NAKED FOR MONEY: An Accidental Travel Writer Reveals All.

8 Enlightened Replies

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  1. Even more specifically, I see book marketing as a *steeplechase* marathon, with an endless series of hurdles you need to jump over. Sounds exhausting, but as long as you’re in the race, running, there’s a chance you can win or place! And here’s another metaphor for you: your book is an evergreen, and with some steady tending and pruning, an evergreen can grow and give you shelter for years to come. Happy watering!

    • Edie says:

      Thanks, Laura! I didn’t want to out you as my font of wisdom, lest you be besieged by wisdom seekers — but maybe you want to be! I like the evergreen metaphor, especially since I used to be a plant killer in NY but have managed to keep my trees (mostly) alive.

  2. Love this! I’m linking to it in my upcoming post for LitReactor, “Overcoming the Shame of Self-Promotion.” Thanks for all the great reminders, presented in fine style.

    And I love the photo of yr pup from Peregrine, one of my favorite shops. Next time you’re there, say hi to Susan Lang and the gang for me. =)

    • Edie says:

      Thanks, Susan! Very cool that I’ll be mentioned in LitReactor; looking forward to reading your piece. And I will indeed say hi to Susan Lang et al for you next time I’m up in Prescott.

  3. Tricia says:

    Edie, my husband has told many of his prodigies that “We are all in sales” and he’s a finance guy! I wish I’d thought of that earlier in my career (as a corporate lawyer). Doesn’t matter what profession you are in. Shameless promotion as well as whatever skill you have, that is what you have to practice if you want to get ahead & get noticed & maybe make some money along the way.
    Try to think of it as socializing & it sounds more fun.
    Looking forward to another of your great writing workshops in Tucson.

    • Edie says:

      Thanks for coming by, Tricia — and for your nice words about my class! I’ll be teaching food writing in November. See, it’s much easier for me to provide the product — a writing workshop — and for you to do the selling for me 🙂

  4. CassandraJuicy says:

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    • Edie says:

      Hi, thanks for stopping by. If you are interested in my blog, you can always subscribe to it! I don’t use tools to write articles; I’d rather have great content than a higher google ranking. My best, Edie

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