June 16, 2008
You Are the Marketing Plan
One of our authors sent me a link to a funny video about book promotion by Dennis Cass:
I watched this video not long after sitting down for coffee with another author about his plans to promote his book and not long before sitting down with someone else to explain why unknown authors struggle so much to get book contracts. I'm reminded what a friend of mine--herself an accomplished author--says repeatedly: "You are the marketing plan."
That, frankly, sounds awful. Imagine, for example, my own current plight: promoting a book on escaping the culture of narcissism and representing myself as an expert on the same. Add to that the common temperament of writers--withdrawn, quiet, bookish, occasionally indolent--and you have a recipe for futility.
It's a tricky business to show your enthusiasm for a book--especially your own book--without becoming obnoxious. I know of at least one person whose efforts at book promotion have earned him a reputation as a pest. In the case of books having to do with Christian virtue or discipleship or worldview, it's even more difficult to avoid seeming or even being condescending, paternalistic, self-congratulatory and a host of other onerous vices of the personality.
I've come to think that most efforts at self-promotion are inherently absurd and, as such, inherently funny. That in itself takes the pressure off. So sin boldly, first-time authors, obscure ethicists and armchair theologians. Spread your unique insights and cleverly themed cultural prescriptions, your own little idea virus, with the brazenness of Typhoid Mary. Enjoy yourself while you do it, and don't forget to occasionally giggle at the silliness of it all, because when it's all said and done we're all on balance saying and doing what we think is best, and hoping that the rest of our universe will fall in line.