Monday, January 09, 2006


For the pros:

You've been working your ass off, self-promoting like crazy. You do the signings. You attend the conferences. Your website is a work of art. You've got a great Internet presence. You know a hundred booksellers by name.

And you aren't selling squat.

Are you discouraged? Hell yeah. Are you depressed? They don't make Zoloft pills big enough to fix you. Are you convinced that it's one big conspiracy to prevent you from succeeding? I can't help you there, because you're delusional and paranoid. But I can say this:

Sales aren't eveything.

What was that? Is Joe taking back everything he's been crowing about for the last four years?

No. Because sales actually are everything. But don't expect everything you do to lead directly to sales.

They do, however, lead to things that lead to sales.

What do I mean? In the last few weeks, here are some opportunities that came to me. I didn't solicit them. I wasn't fishing for them. Somehow these people tracked me down and offered me the following:
  • A spot in an anthology
  • Four website interviews
  • Two website story assignments
  • A paid gig judging a writing contest
  • A BookPage interview
  • An interview with Forbes
  • A Guest of Honor spot at a conference
  • Three paid library talks
  • An invitation to a non-fiction collection
  • Two paid teaching gigs at various colleges
  • Free attendance to a conference
  • Writing a humor article in a magazine
  • A newsletter interview

Plus over a dozen people linked to my blog, and about twenty signed up for my newsletter, in the past ten days.

This is what self-promotion does for you. The word gets out. People hear about you and track you down. Your brand continues to grow in all kinds of unexpected, intangible ways.

None of the opportunites I've listed above are the result of any one thing that I've done. They're the result of everything I've done.

And in the long run, they'll help me sell books.

So don't be upset that your best laid plans seem to be tanking. If you're self-promoting, it's helping you. Even if you don't see any immediate benefits.

Keep at it.