Entering the World of Book Promotion – Part 1


The title to this blog might more aptly read – Being Dragged Kicking and Screaming into the World of Book Promotion. From what I have seen so far of my book promotion material, (provided for me as part of my Friesen Press publication package) I can’t decide whether to run screaming out of the room or roll on the floor laughing.

But, all kidding aside, the next phase of my self-publishing journey is upon me and though I have been committed to taking each thing as if comes, learning as I go – I admit to trepidation. This stage seems more than a tad intimidating.

Where to start? At the beginning I suppose – self-publishing a book is like starting your own small business. I need to find my target market, get a good understanding of where my future customers hang out, suss out the competition and find out what makes my product unique. Are you still with me? I know I’ve lost all the writers, they have run out of the room and are now hiding in a corner of a cluttered closet under a blanket.

I must answer questions related to my motivation for writing the book in the first place, my personal idea of success, what the purpose of my book might be, and how would I define the obstacles in my way of moving forward with promotion. (I resist scrawling – I’m so afraid – in the blank spaces of the module workbook.) And finally I come to the six million dollar question – What is the unique selling point of my novel (USP for short)? It’s critical for marketing, this USP. It tells people why they should buy my book rather than one of the million other books out there clamouring for their attention. It’s a signature that stays with and becomes synonymous with the title of my book.

No pressure there, right folks?

Here is what I have been working on as USPs ideas for Disappearing in Plain Sight:

  • If you’ve ever felt like life disappeared you, a little or a lot, then this book is for you.
  • If you are a parent, or someone who works with or provides care for young adults, if you were young once yourself and remember the experience – this book is for you.
  • Have you ever had to work at rebuilding your life after the loss of a friend or loved one? You may find that the complex emotions that surround such an effort are reflected in parts of this novel.
  • The novel handles complex and challenging life issues in the authentic voices of both young people and the adults who act and react to them
  • You will be drawn into a unique setting – an isolated lake on Northern Vancouver Island, British Columbia
  • The novel will touch your emotions (people report crying) but also manage to evoke humour (indicative of reality – even people who face very difficult life events have other things going on. They laugh as well as cry.)
  • The novel may give you  a feel good happy ending (but that depends on what you were looking for – no spoilers here), but expect to be challenged in your concepts of right and wrong. When it comes to complicated life choices, Disappearing in Plain Sight provides no black and white answers – only shades of grey.

OK – seriously – reading that USP stuff – I’m not sure whether to pat my back or run as fast as I can. So far – promotion is way harder than writing.

In my next post, I’ll give you an overview of the four major sections of a book promotion toolkit.


I think Jack London would have been the right type of guy to do self-promotion – do or die!

Dealing with the green-eyed monster – writer’s envy

I nearly always write – just as I nearly always breathe.

(John Steinbeck to his editor, Pascal Covici – June 20, 1960)

I often listen to the radio when I’m writing. Now and then a little handful of lyrics will catch my ear and attention. Every time I hear Carrie Underwood’s song, Blown Away, I feel like I could cram my knuckles in my mouth and bite down to stifle a scream generated by green-eyed jealousy. To have written a line like: every tear soaked whiskey memory, blown away. Well – it’s pure genius.

I think back to when I read William Gibson’s novel, Neuromancer, and couldn’t get his description of the bartender out of my mind: The bartender’s smile widened. His ugliness was the stuff of legend. In an age of affordable beauty, there was something heraldic about his lack of it. Writing like that is the stuff of legend.

Or the way I read and reread Michael Ondaatje’s work – savoring each sentence and not wanting any one of his books to end.

Stephen King says one of the first prerequisites for a writer is to be a reader. I agree, though I’ve got to be honest here – reading or listening to really good work can be a tad intimidating. Oh what the heck, intimidation that can reach the stage of paralysis might be a more realistic description.

How do we get a handle on this type of intimidation so we can learn from those more experienced and dare I throw out the word – talented? How can we keep on with our own writing endeavors – no matter how humble?

Again – in that old vein of honesty – I haven’t enjoyed reading a novel in the same way since I wrote my own. I read differently now. I look for typos in the final product – I read for point of view or the obvious defiance of one of those crazy writing rules I keep reading about. And often this defiance is committed with stunningly good results.

Point in case – I am currently reading Guy Vanderhaeghe’s novel – A Good Man. At the same time I’ve been looking at a book called, Rivet Your Readers with Deep Point of View, by Jill Elizabeth Nelson. Suffice to say, Vanderhaeghe violates every single rule of deep point of view to say nothing of flying in the face of believability at times. He has his main character commit his thoughts to a journal in great detail and length – a way that no journal has ever been written. But it works – take my word for it – it works, hands down. The man is a genius of a writer. We’re told that violating deep point of view distances us from the characters. Well – not the way Vanderhaeghe does it!

It seems the more I read about the craft of writing the less inspired I become to actually write. And I think it’s because far too many of these books are written as how-to texts and, in my humble opinion, fiction writing doesn’t do well when the author’s head is crammed with too many rules about how to get the job done.

I’m curious – how do you handle that old green-eyed monster – writer’s envy? How do you decide which writing how-to you’ll follow and which you’ll let fall by the wayside?

Jack Londons Writing Cottage

Jack London’s Sleeping Porch – I love his idea of pinning up his ideas and thoughts with clothes pegs on a line hanging over the bed he slept in.