Monday, September 18, 2006

After the Book is Done

Often the hardest part of being a writer is not actually writing the book. It's what comes after the book is done--hitting the circuit to promote it. There are press releases to send out, book signings and other appearances to schedule, and other public relations duties to fulfill. Those writers fortunate enough to have their books published through a big name publisher have someone assigned to do all of this legwork for them. But for those of us who have either self-published (despite what some folks out there think, this method is not as taboo as it once was and does not diminish the quality of a particular written work), or have signed with a smaller publishing house, we're often left to our own creativity and initiative to get the word out about our books.

For the past two months, I've been driving back and forth between New York and Pittsburgh in order to promote my most recently released book, Pittsburgh's Immigrants (Arcadia). I have been participating in The Blue Collar Book Tour with two fellow Arcadia authors, Daniel J. Burns (Pittsburgh's Rivers, Duquesne, Bedford and Its Neighbors) and Sandy Henry (Carnegie). We've had to do a great deal of stumping for ourselves, but we are getting the word out.

Working day-to-day as a writer is challenging enough, but add on the duties of PR person and the job gets even harder. One thing it does give you is perspective. You work harder to get that sale. You show up to events and realize that even if only a few folks turn up, or you sell only one or two books, you are still making some valuable contacts and getting your name out there. Sometimes these events can provide a healthy dose of reality. There's a lot of media out there vying for the public's attention: digital music, TV shows, movies, other books, the Internet. You learn to be an effective salesperson and make the most of every opportunity. You also realize that you can't rest on your past laurels. You need to think ahead to the next project while still marketing and selling the current book.

Yes, the writing is the easy part.

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