An Author Posse
My adult son has a group of friends he started with back in middle school. We call them the posse. They laugh together, they hang together, they support each other, and yes, they get in trouble together. I thought they’d split up after marriage, or parenthood, or girlfriends, or out-of-town jobs. But no, they’re still together after fifteen years. I’m looking for an author posse. Granted, I can write alone, but the rest of it? I need a gang.
Writing and editing a manuscript can drive an author for months and weeks right up to the time of publisher submission, but that part is only a fraction of the process. The most time-consuming tasks, the lion’s share of a successful book project, is marketing it. I know very few authors who get excited about this critical, not to mention never-ending, element. And there’s lots to learn.
Fortunately, there’s plenty of advice out there: books, articles, blog posts, podcasts, and workshops in the hundreds, probably in the thousands, that offer marketing tips and tricks. Intellectually, I get it. But emotionally, it’s hard to believe in myself and stay focused. I get distracted.
Sometimes I sit in my easy chair contemplating what to do next, when my phone buzzes. Ah! Facebook notifications (let me just read a few). Or, I might sit on my barrel chair in my bedroom when suddenly, the laundry pile sings to me. Or, I’ll escape to the downstairs couch where the cat hair sticks to everything. Where’s that lint brush? I need to wash the floor. Vacuum. Aren’t the clean dishes ready to be put away? I wonder how the garden is doing? It’s nice outside. I bet my one-eyed senior dog, Rocky, would love a walk. Oh, I’ve started listening to audio books on dog walks… and in the car… and while doing housework… and the ultimate, the last thirty minutes before falling asleep. Unless I can’t fall asleep, so then I need to listen for another thirty minutes. And another. In this way, I have listened to all seventeen books in Louise Penny’s detective series featuring Armand Gamache.
Or, when all else fails—I take a nap.
That’s how a day can get away from me. That’s how I can avoid the stuff outside my comfort zone: promoting myself. And then, there’s just the sheer statistics that can freeze my windshield.
In February 2022, WordsRated, a non-commercial, international research data and analytics group, has estimated that approximately 4 million books are published each year (only 500,000—1 million by traditional publishers, 1.7 million are categorized as self-published, and the rest in some sort of hybrid or e-book format). That’s a lot of books. And how does one book stand out from the others? How does mine?
Marketing. But what kind? Social media, of course (but which ones?), or advertising, or publisher magazine reviews, or guest appearances, or, with luck, a lot of word-of-mouth. What captures your attention and intrigues you enough to buy a book? To buy my book?
It’s all quite daunting. So why do we do it? Why do I do it?
David Whyte, in his poem, “Sweet Darkness,” writes, “… anything or anyone that does not bring you alive is too small for you.” Writing brings me alive. I feel the most like my true self while writing. I can’t say the same for the business part of being an author. But I also know what it feels like to complete the circle of writing by being read, when people tell me they loved my book or talk about the characters like they’re real people or tell me how something touched their hearts. I am over the moon then. If I want to have that experience more and more, I need to do all the work, not just the writing. But I could use some help.
If you’re reading this, then thanks, you’re already part of my author posse. Thanks for reading all my blog posts, or my Facebook and Instagram posts and commenting on them, or my newsletter or inviting me to your book club, or passing along one of my books to a friend. Really, I appreciate it.
So, I’m thinking of writing a contract with you. While you’re doing these things for me, I’ll be trying some of those new marketing tips, exercising the business side of me, and growing my platform a little every day. I’ll let you keep me accountable. You can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have more ideas. Or you can sign up for my newsletter to get my marketing saga updates. Let’s do this.
I’ll do my best. But I will confess, some days may still include a nap. Or chocolate. You okay with that?