6 Lessons Upon Seeing that “First Major Review”: The Hemingway Files in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch
It’s great seeing some coverage of the book in the local paper, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch:
Also it’s coming at the end of a very long process. Oddly, here’s some things I’ve only recently learned about the book business. 6 things, actually:
- Unless your name is Dan Brown, J. K. Rowling, Steven King, Nora Roberts, John Grisham, Danielle Steel, or something to that effect: You better face the fact that most if not all of the publicity surrounding the book will be up to YOU!
- Authors desperately need opinion-makers and trend-setters to read their books, like their books and then urge their readers to go and do likewise. Thus: I’m looking for reviewers and bloggers; I’m open to interviews and Youtubers; I am happy to mail hard copies and pdf’s to likely candidates even if they are complete strangers who approach me through Facebook messenger; and those strangers need not be a senior editor of the New Yorker or The Atlantic to ask!!! PS: guess who pays for the review copies?
- You will constantly be barraged by well-wishing friends and family members and their typical questions: so, how’s the book doing? How are sales? & How come I don’t see your book at Fill-n-the-Blank Bookstore??? As long as you anticipate these questions and prepare some sort of response, it won’t bother you so much. Here’s one version of mine: I’m trying to build an audience; I’m actively promoting my book and seeking reviews and blog posts; it’s a marathon, not a sprint; it’s a slow burn, not a microwave dinner; you know, that sort of thing!
- Old dinosaurs may or may not be up to speed on their WordPress and/or their digital platforming/ web presence/ social media skills. I cannot guess the percentage but well over HALF of all publicity is digital and web-oriented. I’m learning new tricks everyday, it seems — and really trying pretty hard, with a little help from my friends — to get it up to speed. In fact, VOILA! If you are reading this, you must be connected to the internet!
- As a lifelong academic, self-promotion does not come all that easily. In fact, it’s sort of embarrassing. I feel I am pestering my friends and family; not to mention all those editors and reviewers and so on and so on, all in the service of selling my book, to be perfectly frank. So there’s that. And yet:
FINALLY: I will say, if you are diligent, savvy, and learn at least some of the ropes — and if you stick with it, doing just a little everyday on a consistent basis — YOU WILL SEE RESULTS! This, assuming that the book is, first and foremost, a good book. I’m an English professor by trade, so let me break the news to you: there are a lot of lousy books out there. some of them sell a lot, too. I’m ending this list on a sweet note of optimism, so listen closely: authors, if they pen a good book, can find an audience, despite what looks like difficult odds; and will, if they are willing to roll up their sleeves and get to work. I’m beginning to wonder if the work after writing the book may turn out to be more than the work writing it; but for that, I’ll wait for another day.
NOW: get back on the web and find some more connection: Remember: it’s a slow burn!