September: Marketing When You're Burned Out, Resources, & Reading

Five things you can do right now to market yourself, writing + mental health, why bookstores need USPS, and a fruity white tea

Greetings readers & writers!

Publishing is gearing up for one of its busiest seasons of new releases {Chicago Sun-Times}. Typically the season to launch blazing new literary works, this fall we’re seeing books of all sorts crowding together after long COVID- and printing-related delays, but trying to release before the election pulls attention away from… well… anything besides the election.

With all this pressure, it can feel close to impossible to self-market right now when it feels like everything is stacked against you and your projects. I know, I’m right there with you. Like, the world is literally on fire.

Remember: our world needs stories, even as it feels like it’s spinning out of control. It needs art. People are desperate for it. It’s how we find and make meaning. But people cannot find our stories if they do not know about them. That’s where marketing comes in.

  • Make sure your website is current. Having an up-to-date home for your work/info on the internet is crucial to building relationships with potential readers and marketing partnerships.
    Action: Update your bio, publications, events, and contact info.

  • Take stock. Evaluate how you’re “spending” on marketing when it comes to money, energy, and time. What marketing has worked for you? What hasn’t?
    Action: Reflect on your recent marketing; set three goals that either continue successful marketing avenues and/or try new ones you’re interested in.

  • Seek support. We can’t do and know everything! Consider the gaps in your abilities or knowledge, then research resources that can help bridge that gap. Classes, experts, virtual assistants, books, webinars, there’s a wide range of options for different needs and budgets.
    Action: Pinpoint one gap in your marketing needs and seek out a resource that can support you in growing in that skill or area. Bravery bonus: Invest in it now!

  • Marketing mentors. Find a writer you (realistically!) wish to emulate and explore their marketing strategy. Where are they finding readers?
    Action: Pick an aspect of a successful writer’s marketing strategy and see how it could fit into your own marketing plan. Bravery bonus: Implement it now!

  • Share your success. Create an email list of friends, family, and colleagues with whom you’d like to share your writing accomplishments. Trust me, your success is good news and they can use a little light!
    Action: Let your supporters know how they can help: likes? follows? book reviews? photos of your book in the wild? Bravery bonus: Add a sign-up to your website or email signature for folks to opt-in to future updates.

{And if you’re looking for easy social justice actions you can also take right now too, check out Americans of Conscience’s weekly checklist}


Upcoming (Virtual!) Workshops:

Events are remote and require registration unless otherwise noted!


Writing/Marketing Resources

Author Lisa Shea shares an easy and effective tool to maximize your promotion on Twitter: join or create a retweet group for your genre.

Subscribe (and submit!) to Virtual Author & Writer Events, a free weekly round-up of online events for readers and writers.

By now you all know I’m a huge fan of Writing the Other’s classes and resources. WtO’s recent round-table, “Who’s Consuming Whom?” with speculative fiction writers Aliette de Bodard, Amal El-Mohtar, and Michi Trota, is no exception. This vibrant discussion “explore[s] appropriation, colonialism, consumption, and how it all relates to writing the ‘Other’.”

Author and psychologist Sofiya Pasternak tackles the 7 Mistakes New Writers Make when it comes to mental health, including identifying your audience (one of my biggest recommendations!), jealousy, and self-doubt.


Industry News

With the demand of print books up 5% from last year and a crowded fall release season on the horizon, productions delays due to the pandemic have created supply issues with printers still reeling under financial strain {The New York Times}, resulting in the further postponement of new titles and worries about further delays with backordered titles.

Zoom-bombing continues to be a problem for authors and bookstores that have turned to virtual events. Attention was recently drawn to how it especially affects writers of color when authors Jordan Ifueko and Dhonielle Clayton were crashed by zoom-bombers that took over their bookstore-sponsored event and hurled racial slurs {Greenpointers}. Not an isolated incident, BIPOC writers and their agents are calling on publishers to take greater responsibility in ensuring their authors are safe at scheduled events {Medium}.

Cuts to the USPS will threaten the livelihood of independent bookstores {Publisher’s Weekly} explains Danny Caine, the vocal owner of Raven Books in Lawrence, Kansas. Out of the over-whelmingly supportive response to his initial tweet, Caine turned his case into the 16-page zine, Save the USPS; $1 of each $3 copy goes towards the purchase and donation of stamps.


Reading Corner

Don’t miss Netflix Jr.’s new mini-series “Bookmarks: Celebrating Black Voices”. Lupita N’yongo! Tiffany Haddish! Karamo Brown! Misty Copeland! A dozen prominent Black artists and celebrities read empowering picture books by Black authors. The episodes are also available for free on Youtube.

There are also great resources at the Bookmarks website, along with further reading lists and a discussion of the social justice framework used to select the titles read in the show.


Tea

I’m polishing off the last of this ‘Sweet Nothing’ blend over ice — a lemony-white tea from Harlem-based Not Just Tea. Alas, this particular variety has been discontinued, but they specialize in fruity tea blends and their mango and strawberry green teas would be great to give yourself a gentle boost going into the school year (I’ve also enjoyed their Sassy Strawberry tisane!)


Keep reaching out and supporting each other and your communities. Register to vote. Support #BlackLivesMatter. Wear a mask (like one of these cool bookish ones!) Always happy to boost any projects, resources, or new books you’re working on!

All the best,
~Allison

Writer & Marketing Coach
Keep Writing, Keep Connecting! Twitter | Facebook | Newsletter | Website


Allison has happily made books her life’s work. She spent four years marketing and publicizing academic titles at The MIT Press before she went to work for Wellesley Books as a children’s bookseller and event coordinator. She is now living her dream: putting her B.A. in Creative Writing to good use as a novelist and as a writing/marketing coach for authors. She enjoys science fiction, cupcakes, and a hot cup of tea. 

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