Friday, September 17, 2010

Where Do You Find the Time?

Fitting Promotion into Your Writing Life

I’d like to welcome, Janice Hardy, to Over Coffee. She is the creator of a fascinating world of Geveg and a young adult fantasy series called The Healing Wars: Shifters (book one) and Blue Fire (book two being released October 5th).

Promotion is a hot topic these days among writers. How do you use time available and make it count and not waste time with ineffectual techniques? How in the world do you balance your life, your writing time (you still need time to create something to promote), and still find time to promote your work? Janice discusses what she’s learned about promotion, including mistakes she’s made.

Chances are, early on in your writing career you’ll think about promotion and cringe. You won’t know what to do, where to go, or how you’ll fit it into your already busy schedule. Googling “book promotion” doesn’t yield nearly the help you were hoping it would.

When I sold my first novel, The Shifter, I knew promoting my book was going to be important, but I didn’t realize it was practically a full-time job by itself. Trying to do it all was impossible, but with so many options available, how did I know which ones would work for me?

I made mistakes. Like not realizing it was considered polite (and encouraged) to comment on the blog of anyone nice enough to mention your book. And spending too much time promoting and not enough time writing. And not realizing that you need to coordinate events with your publisher’s marketing person so you don’t book an event that will cannibalize another.

I was more prepared for my second book, Blue Fire, but it was still a challenge to balance the writing with the promoting. The trick was finding things I could do on a daily (or mostly daily) basis, and making them part of my regular routine. That way, I was always promoting my books and keeping my name out there. I was also making the connections I’d need when I had to do a major promotional push, like a book launch.

When I started thinking about promoting myself, I knew I didn’t want to be one of those folks who’s always shouting “hey, I’ve got a book!” from the rooftops. That didn’t make me want to buy books, and constantly focusing on sales sounded exhausting. I sat down and thought about things that I had seen that did make me look up a book or an author. One thing I noticed, was that I often checked out books that I’d heard about online.

I’m one of those odd people who’s not the least bit shy when it comes to meeting folks, but painfully shy about speaking to large groups (though I am getting better at it now). Connecting to readers online was a great outlet for me, because I got to be social without that “standing in front of people” terror. It also turned promotion into something fun I would enjoy doing and keep up with. I decided to spend my limited time on two online avenues. Blogs and forums.

The Absolute Write forum allows me to be part of a fantastic writer community, and I can answer questions (and ask them when I need to) and help other writers on a schedule that works for me. I get to display my name and book covers, links to my blog and website, and even links to stores that sell my books. Full-time promotion, and I don’t have to do anything but participate in a group I was part of anyway. Checking the forums is a fun break in my day when I need to de-stress.

I love talking about writing, so a blog was a natural for me. With the scheduling features, I can spend one morning a week writing my posts (I post every weekday) and I just check the comments every day. Like the forums, I get to talk with other writers and even build my own writing community. I can talk about my books in a way that offers readers more than just a sales pitch, and use my experiences in writing, querying, and publishing as examples to help others improve their own writing. The blog is always there, so it’s constantly promoting me as well.

Of course, the day to day stuff is only half the job. You still have to keep your website updated (which I’m woefully behind at the moment), and prepare for any upcoming book releases. I’ve found that setting aside one day a week for the larger tasks lets me stay on target and still maintain my writing and work schedules. I can research festivals and conferences I might want to attend, stay in touch with bookstores and schools I’ve visited in the past (and hope to visit again), and find opportunities to reach out to the book community (like this one).

One of the things I enjoy most about being an author is connecting with other writers and readers. Building those relationships is a lot more fun than placing an ad in a newspaper—and a lot more effective. When it comes to promotion, combine it with things you enjoy, and it won’t feel like work at all.

  • How do YOU fit promotion into your writing life?

Blue Fire Blurb:

Part fugitive, part hero, fifteen-year-old Nya is barely staying ahead of the Duke of Baseer’s trackers. Wanted for a crime she didn’t mean to commit, she risks capture to protect every Taker she can find, determined to prevent the Duke from using them in his fiendish experiments. But resolve isn’t enough to protect any of them, and Nya soon realizes that the only way to keep them all out of the Duke’s clutches is to flee Geveg. Unfortunately, the Duke’s best tracker has other ideas.

Nya finds herself trapped in the last place she ever wanted to be, forced to trust the last people she ever thought she could. More is at stake than just the people of Geveg, and the closer she gets to uncovering the Duke’s plan, the more she discovers how critical she is to his victory. To save Geveg, she just might have to save Baseer—if she doesn’t destroy it first.  Excerpt

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Janice Hardy is the author of THE SHIFTER, BOOK I of THE HEALING WARS. BOOK TWO: BLUE FIRE is due out October 5, 2010. She is currently hard at work on book three, thinking up terrible things to do to imaginary people. She lives in Georgia with her husband, three cats and one very nervous freshwater eel. She blogs about writing at The Other Side of the Story ( You can also visit her online at