Do You Love or Hate Promoting Your eBooks?

Are you one of the authors who has to be nudged, or maybe even pulled kicking and screaming, into doing self promotion? If so, you’re going to love this guest post from talented and prolific New York Times bestselling author of paranormal romance, Deborah Cooke.

Is Promotion Your Priority?

By Deborah Cooke (also writing as Claire Delacroix)

I met Julie when we both wrote for Dell, and I was only Claire Delacroix. Now I’m both myself (Deborah Cooke) and Claire and even if I manage to keep it straight who I am on any given day, it’s understandable that others sometimes find my dual identity a bit confusing. Julie and I crossed paths again last summer at RWA National in Orlando, and Julie was very excited about the possibilities for authors with digital self-publishing. We had many animated and interesting discussions in Orlando last July and – no surprise – since then, Julie has had fabulous success with her digital re-releases. (Insert a round of cheering here!) So, now that I am re-releasing my own Claire Delacroix backlist digitally, I thought it would be fun to swap blog posts.

When Julie suggested that I blog on innovative promotion techniques, I laughed out loud. One of the things that has always impressed me about Julie is her energy. She is a natural at self-promotion. I, on the other hand, am one of those authors who would prefer to just head back into my office, shut the door and write another story.

My Deborah Cooke work (the Dragonfire series of paranormal romances and the Dragon Diaries paranormal YA spin-off series) are published by a traditional publisher, and the house expects a certain amount of promotion to be done by the author. I also believe that frontlist drives backlist, so it makes the most sense to focus on promoting the new titles. Given my preference for writing over promoting, once that’s all done, I’m pretty much all of out of self-promotional sparkle.

The Beauty of Digital Publishing

But this brings us to one of the beauties of digital publishing – it has more ability to accommodate the different inclinations or characters of individual authors, because digital publishing can more readily support long-tail marketing. What I mean by that is that a book can take some time to find its audience. In traditional print publishing, a mass market book has two to three weeks to find its audience. After that, the physical book needs to be removed from the shelves (or its numbers culled) to make space for the next month’s books. Those space constraints for inventory don’t apply to digital books. It doesn’t matter whether the online bookstore has a million titles for sale, or a billion titles for sale. They can all sit on the server, waiting for their respective moments in the sun. So, we as authors don’t have to all follow the same course or make the same decisions – we can publish and promote our book with as much individual flair as readers will find in our books.

Part of my perspective comes from my own decisions as a consumer. I don’t buy books on the basis of any kind of promotion. I’ve never bought a book because of an ad, or a postcard seen at a conference. I’ve never bought one because of a promotional item that’s been given to me, and I buy very few on the basis of reviews. I buy authors whose work I like – then I look on their websites to see what they have new coming out – and I do buy books recommended by people who I know have similar reading tastes. I do buy the books of authors I meet at conferences who I have good conversations with – because interesting people must write interesting books! – but mostly I look at individual books because I like the cover. The cover persuades me to look more closely at the book itself, and if I like the idea of the story, too, then a sale is made. And quite frequently, I – as a reader – find books long after the two or three weeks when they were supposed to be a star.

So my choices in digitally self-publishing my books reflect my own buying process as well as my own inclination. Because I’m my own publisher <g> I’m okay with that. I spend a good bit of effort on the covers, ensuring that they are beautiful. I would pick up these books on the basis of their covers. I also ensure that the book itself is strong. These are all books that have been through the editorial process – I was amazed in reading them through for re-release that there was very little I would change in any of them. Once the book is dressed up in its best, with its shoes shined and its formatting done prettily, I send it out into the world. Then I work on the next one.

Why the Writing Itself is Promoting

I’ve always believed that what builds audience is the work itself. So, writing the best book that you can and sending it out in the best shape you can (with the most lovely cover possible!) then writing another one that’s just as good (if not better) is the best kind of marketing, IMO.

I’m a writer, and I believe that writing is the thing that I do best.

I love that digital publishing supports my own inclination in this.

This is not a common perspective among authors, who tend to be quite driven to self-promote, particularly within the romance genre. (And I salute all of those authors who do this so very well!) Mostly I feel like a heretic, so I was happy to discover recently that I’m in good company. Dean Wesley Smith has a similar perspective that what counts is the work – and doing more of it. His post on striking your own balance in terms of writing and promotion makes me feel like less of a lone wolf.

Howling at the moon.

Releasing Backlist as well as Frontlist

This year, in addition to writing and promoting my Deborah Cooke frontlist, I’ve been focusing on making my Claire Delacroix backlist available to readers again. Some of these books have never been available digitally and many have been unavailable for a while. So far, I have new versions released for The Rogues of Ravensmuir, a trilogy of medieval romances that push the boundaries of historical romance a bit. You can read more about THE ROGUE, THE SCOUNDREL and THE WARRIOR right here: Delacroix.net/Rogues

I’ve also re-published three of the time travel romances, which are romantic comedies and were originally published under my pseudonym Claire Cross. You can read more about ONCE UPON A KISS, THE MOONSTONE and LOVE POTION #9 right here: Delacorix.net/ttravels.

Short Stories Anyone?

Finally, I’ve re-published several short stories. “Amor Vincit Omnia” is a medieval short which was originally published in a digital anthology by Mighty Words. “The Ballad of Rosamunde” was published in THE MAMMOTH BOOK OF IRISH ROMANCE but was cut for space constraints – the digital release includes the whole story. “Coven of Mercy” by Deborah Cooke is my first vampire short story, which appeared in THE MAMMOTH BOOK OF VAMPIRE ROMANCE II but is now available digitally. “The Leaves” by Deborah Cooke is a creepy short story that has never been published – it’s only available on Amazon for Kindle.

Coming Soon!

Future Plans

This summer, my project is the re-release of the Jewels of Kinfairlie trilogy of medieval romances, which are loosely linked to the Rogues of Ravensmuir. THE BEAUTY BRIDE will be July’s release, THE ROSE RED BRIDE will be re-released in August and THE SNOW WHITE BRIDE will be released in September. You can read more about them at Delacroix.net/Jewels

After that, I’m going back to writing new work!

What is more important to you? Writing or promoting? Do you do both? Do you keep the balance equal? Or do you favor one over the other?

About Deborah Cooke

Deborah Cooke sold her first book in 1992, a medieval romance called THE ROMANCE OF THE ROSE which was published under the pseudonym Claire Delacroix. Her Delacroix titles are both New York Times and USA Today bestsellers. Deborah has an honours degree in history, with a focus on medieval studies. She is an avid reader of medieval vernacular literature, fairy tales and fantasy novels, and has written over forty romance novels and novellas. She has also been published under the name Claire Cross and is currently published under her own name, Deborah Cooke.

Deborah makes her home in Canada with her husband. When she isn’t writing, she can be found knitting, sewing or hunting for vintage patterns.

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From Julie: Thanks for stopping by, Deb! And I didn’t even spill wine on you this time. *G*

If you want to read my post on Deb’s blog, Click Here!

9 comments

  1. This was fun to read both the blogs pieces. I liked the fact that you both stressed how important it is to focus on writing the best books possible. Sometimes we get so caught up in the flurry of promoting that we forget. I really have to discipline myself to keep the writing and marketing in balance. Which means I really need to stop blog-hopping and get to work. LOL

  2. Thanks for having me visit, Jules!

    That was such an ill-fated conference for suits. RWA Chicago, probably in 1999. It was SO hot that year. I took three silk suits, and all three jackets took major hits – one with red wine, one with a supersized Coke, and one with salad. Yes, salad! I was out for lunch with my editor, and the waiter hefted a tray of salads to his shoulder right before he walked past a fan. Hundreds of baby greens – dressed in oil and vinegar – took flight. Guess where most of them landed. :-) My dry cleaner never forgot my name after that trip!

    Deb
    aka Claire

  3. Yep, Chicago in a heat wave — NOT a fun time to be wearing suits, even if they weren’t drenched in drinks and salad. It’s fun to look back, though, and see how far our careers have come. I think we’re both in for more interesting times ahead.

  4. Maryann, you and me both! Speaking of, I need to go write. Discipline, discipline…

  5. Some really interesting points, Deb — and not just because I’m over on your side of the promotion divide.

    My buying habits are also similar to yours. I wonder if there’s a correlation between being a skeptical consumer (sometimes cranky :-) ) consumer, and being a reluctant promoter?

    The other element I’ve noticed in myself is that I’m far, far more comfortable encouraging readers to try my friends’ books than my own.

  6. I love what you ladies said. I’d heap rather write than promote. Since I’m an unknown, I have to be everywhere and make tons of friends. I have gone over to the dark side with Indie publishing so I’ll be busy promoting and writing!

  7. Hi Patricia –

    That would be funny if there was a connection between our buying and our promoting habits! And yes, I’m much happier promoting other people’s books, or – this cracks Pam T up when we’re at conf – introducing people to each other who it seems to me might work well together. I have a really hard time doing that for myself, though.

    Maybe we need to start a Reluctant Promoters Club and do for each other! LOL!

    d

  8. Excellent points here. A good book is a basic staple for good sales. However, being in the wrap up stage of a big promotion, I’d like to add that promotion doesn’t have to be “buy my book” exclusively. It can be “read my blog” “look at this great sweater I just knitted” or “isn’t my puppy cute!”

    I went over the top (for me, others may think I was whispering, who knows) this time, doing things I wouldn’t normally do (begging for guest post spots, asking to be featured, Tweeted, etc.). But I also did some fun community based things that I enjoyed, and that let me blow off steam.

    As a creative person, I guard my creative energy very carefully (except from my family, but I love them so I forgive them). There is a list of things I did for this promotion that I would only do for a very short, targeted time, ever again…if ever again (blogging 50 days in a row was draining for me). There are also a couple of things that I truly enjoyed and will keep up (I love the support and info to be found on the Kindleboards, for example; and I love to open Flipboard on my iPad and find interesting articles to share on FaceBook and Twitter…and Google+ now, too).

    I also came out of lurk to begin commenting on a few of the blogs I read (via Flipboard, of course). I’ve never been much of a commenter, but now I know how it feels to receive comments, so I try to give back.

    I’m not doing another massive promo again for a long while. I’ll just do what I enjoy and let those things fill my creative well so I can recover from the rest of the experience :-)

  9. Tara Janzen says:

    Julie’s Journal is at the top of my favorites list – thank you for such awesome informatiion. Because of your insightful intelligence and professional savvy, I am no longer awash in the ebook tsunami. And then along comes Deb’s blog on author’s who can’t seem to find a workable amount of self-promotion energy in themselves. I figured I was doomed (and often feel like I sabotaged my print career by not being able to self-promote in any effective way) – but Deb explained my crushing inadequacies away. Ebooks aren’t going anywhere. They can find their place in their time. I don’t have to churn out tweets like a chickadee in order to sell online. Wow. This is a game changer for me – thank you!!

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