Publicist Joan Stewart poses an interesting question today: Which would you prefer, an appearance on “Oprah” or an article about you by the most influential blogger in your industry?
Since my “industry” is writing mysteries, my immediate response was that I would choose an appearance on “Oprah.” On the other hand, I read somewhere that an author’s appearance on “Oprah” usually brought in no more than 10,000 extra sales. Whoever wrote that seemed to feel that 10,000 sales is peanuts to an author. It isn’t, of course, but it also isn’t the millions of sales that authors get when their books are chosen for Oprah’s book club. I doubt that any blog generates those millions of sales either.
Published writers have a misty idea that in some distant golden age authors could leave all the grubby work of promotion to their publisher. Those were the same good old days when every author had a devoted editor whose sole purpose in life was to get the author more money. Some of that faux nostalgia may actually be rooted in a grain of truth, but more than likely authors have always had to promote their own work.
Now that we have eighty zillion ways to do it, it’s both easier and harder. Easier because it’s a snap to sit in a cool spot and sip our bottled water and write a piece for our own blog or somebody else’s. Harder because every other writer is doing the same thing, and readers don’t have the time or interest in reading them all. And even when a rare publisher does shell out money for a multi-city book tour, odds are that only a handful of people will show up to meet the author. Or buy a book.
No matter what an author chooses to spend time and money and energy on to promote a book, there’s always the nagging knowledge that he or she would rather be writing. Most of us write because we love it. If we loved marketing, we wouldn’t be writers.
Anyway, Joan Stewart’s question is something to chew on. I’d be interested in what you other authors think the best answer is.