The list of ways to promote oneself seems to be growing larger everyday, and that in itself presents a problem for creatives.
I mean, if you attempted to use all the social media sites and advertising strategies, and attend all the workshops, seminars, book fairs, etc., you could spend at least 50% of each and every day doing nothing but promotional work. Not only is it exhausting, but it’s not practical for creative thinkers who need to spend as much time as possible creating their product!
Creative people in general are not famous for their ability (or want) to self-promote. Most are the type that need space and time alone to do what they do best…CREATE. As soon as you start talking to them about “getting out there” and selling their wares, alarms start going off and panic sets in. Their creative spark shuts down. For writers – writers block sets in. For illustrators, the blank canvas becomes, well frankly…frighteningly blank! Everything comes to a screeching halt, as their brains overload by just the thought of such a huge undertaking.
As someone who writes, illustrates and promotes my books, I have to force myself to find balance. Let’s not forget that freelancers also have to FIND work, which requires a huge chunk of time as well. I try to give everything in my life equal time, knowing that if I push through the things I don’t enjoy, I will eventually get to the things I love.
Wether we like it or not, creatives first need to face the fact that self-promoting has become essential to survival. With self-publishing now easier than ever, the publishing industry as a whole has become extremely competitive. Self-promoting is a skill that must be improved upon daily, and applied to every facet of the creative process.
As an illustrator, I’ve discovered it’s necessary to start visually promoting books way before they are available for purchasing. One example is to build a buzz for the book by adding interior artwork (if the publisher allows it) to blog interviews. Nothing promotes a book better than visuals. Post cards (above) are also widely used to promote illustrators to traditional publishers, as a way to acquire picture book assignments.
Authors seeking traditional publication would be smart to plan their promotions and include the strategy in their cover letters to editors, as more and more publishers look for authors who are prepared to promote themselves. It is a selling point, and can really make the difference between a sale or (yet another) rejection.
Self-publishing authors really need to be prepared ahead of their publication date, because the amount of promotional work needed to make a profit is staggering. The self-publishing author should have his/her author website in place, ready to roll when their book is released, so that every potential sale can be processed or re-directed to the correct place.
There’s no doubt that the book writers and illustrators of today have a much bigger work load than those of the past, and they have even less time to actually create. With that in mind, we must be smart about how we use our time, and choose only the tactics that reap the greatest rewards and garner the most attention. We must keep our eyes on the prize, find where opportunities lie, create opportunities for ourselves, and seize them when they appear before us.
When you’ve done all that you can do, success will find you. It may not appear in the way that you expected it,…but it will arrive in it’s due time. Of this I am certain.