Saturday, February 14, 2015

“Your Book is Your Business”

Maia Williams, Co-Director of the San Miguel Writers Conference and a professional Business Building Consultant, led this workshop.

She began with the mindset of the emerging writer. Fill in the blank in this sentence: “I’m too _____ to promote my book.” Some of the answers from the group were “shy,” “lazy,” “discouraged,” “poor,” “fearful of rejection,” and “fearful of losing my friends.” After you fill in the blank with your own answer, she said, pledge to delete the sentence from your mind for the next ninety days and get on with what needs to be done.

Her mantra for promoting your book: Keep It Simple. Make It Easy. Start Sooner. Some of her recommendations were:         

  • Don’t wait until your book is published to start building your platform.
  • Post on Facebook but, “for every nine personal things you post, add one about your book.”
  • Examine your online presence: can people find you easily?
  • Establish a website. It should have static pages (bio/books) as well as those that change as needed (events, reviews, your store). As an example of a beautifully constructed website, she recommended that we study that of poet Richard Blanco ( 
  • Prepare both a paper and an electronic Media Kit. The electronic version (most probably on your website) should have downloadable photos: high rez for print and low rez for internet. It should have both a short biography of you (approximately 100 words) and a long bio as well. Parenthetically, Williams said, “Write your own biography; don’t let a publicist do it. You don’t want to exaggerate your background but neither do you want to understate it. The point is to make it easy for journalists, reviewers and bloggers to find the information they need quickly and easily. Williams pointed out that newspapers have so severely cut their staffs that it is crucial to help them find information about you and your book(s) in the fastest and easiest possible way.
  • Start a blog. You can blog on Facebook (as do Elizabeth Gilbert and Anne LaMott) or on your website (as does Alice Walker) or as a stand-alone. 
  • In promoting your book, she urged, consider the different audiences that need to be satisfied: readers, reviewers, journalists and tailor your materials accordingly.
  • Consider “accessories” such as bookmarks with your picture, the name of your book, and descriptive material. Or, if your book has illustrations, consider matted prints of them to sell, along with your books, at events.
  • Leverage your strengths and interests. If you’ve written a book that relates to an event, contact the organizers of the event and ask to have your book made available for sale to participants and offer to speak at the event as well.
  • Reach out to book clubs, organizations of which you are a member, and independent bookstores. 
  • Schedule as many readings as you can. -- but don’t make the mistake of reading a little bit from the beginning, a little more from the middle, and yet a little more from the end of your book. “Why,” she asked, “Would anybody buy it when you’ve just told them almost the whole story? Better to leave ‘em hanging!” And always bring copies of your book to sell and don’t forget to bring change!
Finally, she listed beliefs that we need to completely banish from our thinking:
  • Nobody cares about my book.
  • Everyone cares about my book.
  • Everyone cares about my book as much as I do.
  • My publisher, my parents, my friends and my fairy godmother will market this book for me.


  1. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    1. Deleted only because it was a duplicate of the message below, Shelia. Rose-colored glasses while you're writing. Steely-eyed gaze while you're promoting. It's sort of a modern-day corollary of Hemingway's "Write drunk. Revise sober."

  2. Lots to think about. I seem to have lost my rose-colored glasses.

  3. Great stuff. Sometimes you just have to take the leaf of faith. Believe in yourself. Someone will say yes.