Git Gud, Scrub

Git Gud, Scrub

Image by Van3ssa 🩺🎵 Desiré 🙏 Dazzy 🎹 from Pixabay

Good afterevenmorn!

This post is for the baby writers out there, those of you who have finished your first book, or will be finishing soon and are deciding what to do with it. If you’ve done your research on the publishing process, this post will not come as a surprise to you. There are however, still a large number of writers entering the publishing space clinging to much-disproven ideas about what it’s going to look like.

There are four ways you could go with your book: self-publish, find a small press, or try for one of the large publishing houses. You could do this with or without first attempting to find an agent. I do not, for example, have an agent (though I would like one. I still query from time to time), and I am currently working with a small press (and have self-published in the past). I also occasionally slide into the rare and brief submission calls for unagented authors that some of the big publishers.

Never, and I cannot stress this enough, never go with a vanity publisher.

Now, most publishing advice is terrible, but let me offer one piece that I think is both decent pretty important. It’s simply this:

Learn how to market.

It is extremely obvious that learning how to market is absolutely crucial for those who are seriously considering going the self-publishing route. Duh. You have to do everything yourself/pay for outsourcing; not just the writing of the book, but the editing, interior formatting, book cover, back cover copy, seeking blurbs, marketing… You are literally responsible for every single step of the process from idea to product and beyond. You must get good at marketing, or it won’t matter how brilliant everything else is. No one will read a book if they’ve never heard of it.

Working with a small press will often get the same results, in the end. While they may take on some of the marketing burden, there is often nothing in the budget of a small press for marketing, so you’ll have to do the lion’s share. Some small presses don’t do any at all, so if you’re lucky enough to have a small press that is doing even a little, consider yourself blessed. For you are indeed blessed.

What surprises most debut authors, though, is that even with the big publishing houses, who have been noted for gutting their marketing departments, the author is expected to market their own stuff. A great deal more than you would have thought. Unless, of course, the author has a track record of sales. Then the big houses might be more inclined to spend money on them. They are a surer thing, after all. The publisher is more likely to recoup their costs if the book takes off. A recognised name that did well is more likely to be that thing.

Image by PIRO from Pixabay

Terribly unfair, I know. It’s a catch 22, really. How is anyone supposed to find out about your work if the folks who published it are unwilling to put in any time or funds to getting the thing seen? It sucks.

And the truth is, getting seen requires a considerable amount of luck… which also sucks. But you can help luck along by doing everything in your power to market that book. So learn.

There is a mythology around the idea of a writer; some recluse locked away in a hermitage (read here: library, bookshop or office) scribbling/typing away, living on a diet of coffee, whiskey, and cigarettes, skin pasty and rickets setting in from lack of sunlight. This fictitious person never sets foot outside and despises and actively shuns personal interactions and eschews the spotlight. It’s vain and crass, after all.

Well, my precious soul, that writer has never existed. They will never really exist. Every writer has to get word of their books out there; and that often means putting themselves out there. Dickens had to. You will, too. It means putting as much work into the promotion of your book (and yourself) as you did into the book itself. Sometimes more.

So Sonia, I hear absolutely no one asking, what should I do to market my book?

I have no frikkin’ clue.

I have yet to manage it. Look, marketing is my personal hell. I hate it with the fury of ten thousand suns. I want to be that writer hiding away in their little hidey-hole, never having to discuss my books with anyone and having them magically sell. I don’t want to do interviews, the thought of being on social media (especially TikTok) makes my skin crawl (though I’m on there, and I hate it), would rather not have to do signings or book tours or even launches.

How do you market a book? I don’t know. My own efforts have been haphazard, disorganised and absolutely useless, to put it mildly. Don’t ask me. I need to “git gud.” And you should too. Don’t become like me. Learn how to market.

On that note (ah, a smooth transition into some marketing… clearly I am a genius), did you know that I have a story that you can read for free? It’s a serial I’m offering on my blog. Each part goes up on Friday mornings. The premise is silly as hell — a zombie plague, but make them fairies — but I had so much fun writing it, and figured folks could take a ten minute break of a Friday morning to escape, well… *gestures vaguely.* Anyway, if you’re interested, you can read it here.

When S.M. Carrière isn’t brutally killing your favorite characters, she spends her time teaching martial arts, live streaming video games, and cuddling her cat. In other words, she spends her time teaching others to kill, streaming her digital kills, and a cuddling furry murderer. Her most recent titles include Daughters of BritainSkylark and Human. Her serial story, The New Haven Incident, uploads every Friday, and can be found here.

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