Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Author: Promote Thyself

Much is made of the need for authors to do self-promotion, and it's all true.

I worked in educational publishing for 10 years, which has some significant differences from trade publishing (although the publisher for which I worked, like many educational publishers, does publish some trade products and expects trade sales on many of its titles). From my perspective in both editorial and marketing at an educational publisher, author self-promotion can be a wonderful boost for sales. And publishers just simply don't/can't do all the promotion for a book. There are places that the author is better equipped to reach, either by merit of being the author or by simply not being a large multi-national corporation (or small, over-worked publicity department, or whatever). Author self promotion is even more important for trade titles, I believe, than educational ones.

One of the most obvious vehicles for author self promotion is a website. As a reader, I often prefer sites that are created and maintained by the authors themselves (or whomever they contract to do so) rather than those created by publishers, as long as the sites are current. Publisher owned sites are often focused on the newest releases and usually only mention the titles still in print and published by their own houses. They rarely contain updated information about where the author lives and what s/he is working on currently. (I'm not some crazed stalker, I'm talking about dust jacket style information.)

Some examples:

I read Laurell K. Hamilton's novels. Check out her own website and her publisher website. In my opinion, her website does what it needs to do: it's current and contains relevant information about her books and personal appearances. That said, while I doubt that it hurts her sales any, this simply doesn't look very professional. The Random House website looks much more professional, but it contains far less information, is updated less frequently, and only lists titles published with that publisher. In this case, I'll take substance over style, but not without making a few quips (those bats!).

I also read Patricia Cornwell. Her personal site is about as professional and slick as they come, yet I don't really like it. It's too focused on her newest release, and doesn't neatly catalog the author's whole body of work, delineating the various series and non-fiction titles. (Cornwell's publisher directs people to her site from theirs.)

Good author website: Sue Monk Kidd
Site that would be good, if only it weren't missing its content: Audrey Niffenegger
Brandon Sanderson obviously has a great site, but it's a bit too busy for my taste.

I love Julie Kaewert's Booklovers Mysteries. Love them! But it's very hard to find current information about the author or anything she's written since publishing the 6th novel in the series several years ago. Is she retired? Dead? I also enjoy reading Dorothy Cannell. Thank heavens for Wikipedia and someone else gathering available information into one place! Author websites should be the authoritative place for finding out what an author has written, what she's working on next, how to contact her with requests for appearances, etc.


  1. I like Mindy Klasky's site. Separate stuff on separate pages, and a blog hooked in even tho' it's on LJ. She's, um, "cleaned it up" (?) a little because they're taking some of her stuff into the YA market -- it's gone from photos of cocktails to women's silhouettes.

    Or did I say that already? Sorry.

  2. Excellent! Thank you for the "introduction," Camera!