Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Controversy: Author self-promotion

Part I

I've broken this down into a couple of parts so that the post isn't overly long . . .

Promotion is a reality of the Christian publishing industry.

Most authors detest this part of the job.

Most publishers wish they didn't have to spend so much money on marketing.

But we don't always get what we want!

Publishers take risks when putting out a new title. All the background work before a book appears in print on the shelves of your local store or on amazon.com takes months -- and that doesn't even include the author's time writing the book.

Putting books on shelves, whether virtual or pine, costs a lot of money. A lot. 1000s and 1000s. Do publishers and authors not have the right to recover some of that expenditure? Not to discount divine intervention, there is only one way to recoup the cost -- marketing.

Book Awards/ Polls

(The quality and reliability of book awards and polls is a subject of much debate . . . and for discussion in Part II)

There have been many solicitations for votes on SL, on author blogs, in email, on mail groups over the past 7 days. It's that time of year again!

It is good to see authors being brave enough to come out of their writing dens and promote. People do not realize how difficult a task that is for most novelists. It is a necessary part of the job that I, for one, detest. But, it is also my responsibility to self-promote. I created the Media Room for Literary Art on Shoutlife and founded the Lost Genre Guild to help authors with this aspect of their job.

Is there a problem with authors informing their "fans" that their novel or article or blog or . . . has been nominated for an award or in a poll? and, that it is something that they can vote on to show support for a favorite book or author or indicate that they enjoyed a well-written article or well-designed book cover?

I don't think so. I've never once assumed that authors' posts are saying "vote for me even if you haven't a clue about my book or website or article or writing in general; vote for me 'cuz I am lots of fun or because I have a cute cat in my author pic or because I am very attractive or because I recite Scripture in my SL posts."

On my website there is a meter installed that tells my publisher daily hits, pages viewed, referring sites, etc. Interestingly, over the past 7 days my hits have spiked, big time. The majority of these hits come from one referring site: the Preditors and Editors poll. No one can read my entire book on the site, but they can read the article and view the book cover and read the short stories and my review blog. This indicates to me that voters are more honest than some have given credit.

The P&E poll is well-established. It is meaningful despite what a few critics contend. Unlike some other polls/ awards, it is a two-step process with email address verification. Unlike some others, the winners votes are carefully scrutinized. It is no more open to corruption than awards in the Christian publishing industry are open to subjectivity and bias.

In the end, it is up to you. Vote. Don't vote.

As for those who say marketing is "unChristian" -- I'd like to see the chapter and verse. Remember, marketing takes on all sorts of faces. The interview with the author of your favorite book is as much marketing as is a blog announcing to you that the same author is up for an award or in a poll that you can support.


cathikin said...

I left my comments on Shoutlife, but you know me anyway. I know your heart and intentions, and I totally agree with you. Of course it's an honor when someone nominates your work for an award, but an award like this is, I think, letting readers know about worthwhile reading material, pointing people in the right direction for something that isn't a waste of time. I appreciate knowing about such events that I can participate in, because I want to support the authors and ventures that I believe in. If someone hadn't alerted me to such an award, I would never be able to lend support or tell others. Bring 'em on.

Headless Unicorn Guy said...

Last I heard, Karina Fabian's Infinite Space, Infinite God was tied for first on the latest P&E poll.