Friday, September 25, 2009

The necessity of self-promotion

The Washington Post Style section ran an article yesterday about author Kelly Corrigan who, despite having two books in print, had to cobble together a web site, a trailer, a book tour and other forms of self-promotion, paid entirely out of her own pocket. Apparently, she is not alone.

The article, On Web, A Most Novel Approach, says this is now a common occurrence among not-yet-well-known writers:
Book publishers actively market and promote authors, of course, particularly the big names, but for thousands of writers it's a figure-it-out-yourself world of creating book trailers, Web sites and blogs, social networking and crashing on friends' couches during a tour you arrange.

Strangely, the WP article fails to hyperlink to Corrigan's web site in its online version of the story. It's here: Kelly Corrigan.

After viewing her self-made trailer, I'm a little shocked that it helped further her career. In the first few seconds there is a shot of her dad in bed, with the voice-over saying, "He calls his bed a fart sack..." OK, I'm probably not going to read this book if that is an example of its scintillating prose. But it must have been effective. The Post article says it has been viewed more than 100,000 times, and that it helped lead to her getting a booking on a network morning show.

I've always made a distinction between writers who blog and writers who publish books. There's a little bit of class distinction there, in my mind, despite my being mostly a self-published, Internet-based writer these days. I always figured that a writer in print had MADE it, that they would be taken care of by agents and publishers once in print. This article was disillusioning. Now I see the difference between a blogger like me and a blogger/web site creator like Corrigan is that, while we're both providing our words for free, her web site and blog promote something tangible, which can be purchased, and which can provide her with an income. Her blog is an ongoing advertisement; my blog is what I'm writing right now.

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