Tooting Your Horn

I’m not much of a horn tooter. I prefer to be in the background, the slow lane, or a quiet corner. But this was all before the publication of my debut novel. Since then, I discovered that horn tooting has its benefits. I don’t mean literally landing on the horn, but rather, making a little noise when it comes to playing the publicity game.

I learned that promotion begins before publication. To play along with that piece of knowledge, I dove into social media by joining Facebook and by upping my Twitter game. Then I took initiative, contacted local bookstores, and asked to have a book signing, fingers crossed. I wasn’t sure what to include in the asking. I mentioned my tagline, my award, my former life, my dogs and chickens and anything else that would convince a book store to want to host me. The bookstore in my neighborhood was my first choice. I’m a long time patron and it’s one of the greatest bookstores anywhere. Plus, the second floor has a fabulous used book collection that carries everything from Nancy Drew to E Phillips Oppenheim, two of my favorites.

Afterward, I expanded to other bookstores, near and far. Not all responded, but most did. Next I tried another favorite hangout of mine: libraries, emailing to ask if they had interest in hosting mystery author panels. Almost all said yes. I did the same with Writers’ Conferences with equally remarkable results. Do you notice a pattern here? What’s the key to promoting yourself as an author?

One of my favorite quotes:
There are people who make things happen, there are people who watch things happen and there are people who wonder what happened. To be successful, we have to be people who make things happen. – Jim Lovell

How do you make things happen in terms of promo? By asking. If I hadn’t asked to be hosted, no one would have said yes. As challenging as it may be sometimes, to have the kind of life we desire, we have to be proactive in creating it. I really wanted to appear in bookstores, libraries and conferences. If I didn’t have contacts, I tried to find an opening to make it happen. For instance, before my novel was released, I contacted the San Francisco Writers’ Conference and asked to be included on a panel. I had an “in”. I was a past scholarship recipient. But that wasn’t enough. I was invited to participate…in a two minute introduction at the start of the Conference. Not quite what I had in mind.

Fast forward eight months later: I’m a panelist at the spectacular Santa Barbara Writers’ Conference. I look out into the audience of over 100 and recognize the organizer of the San Francisco Writers’ Conference. This was my chance. I told the audience what a great impact the SF Conference had on me – in all sincerity it had. I don’t believe I’d be a published author but for the scholarship opportunity. Later that day, I had the chance to speak to the organizer. I asked him in person. And again via email and again. And I was so grateful to discover that asking (which is my way of tooting my horn) worked. Sometimes, just asking will open the door.

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7 years ago

GOOD JOB!! Keep the posts and appearances going. I enjoyed seeing you in person!

E J Frost
E J Frost
7 years ago

Wow, proof of the addage, “nothing ventured, nothing gained.” Your great positive responses are well deserved and give yourself a pat on the back for promoting in the nicest way!

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