You’ll always hear actors or authors proclaiming how their latest release is their best effort ever. It would seem to make sense. For the artist, past mistakes are traded in for knowledge, while time partners with experience. For the media big wigs and investors, there’s always the bottom line to consider as the throttle is open wide during the marketing campaign. Most of us will allow ourselves to get caught up in the hype. Still, sometimes it’s hard not to roll your eyes. What if even Kevin Costner knows it’s going to be a stinker, but he’s just playing all of us?
So how does one promote their novel without coming off as an annoying telemarketer or a pushy car salesperson or an even pushier door-to-door solicitor? My wife and I avoid these people like the plague. Phone calls are screened. And why not? They never allow you to get a word in edgewise. A charitable cause is treated the same as the likely over-hyped product pitch, as all ringing doorbells are ignored. A glimpse through the side of the window curtain might reveal a young salesman – sold on the idea of selling by some other young salesman turned manager – walking to the next house with the determination of the Terminator, leaving us worrying whether or not he’ll be back.
Is it possible to believe in your work and yourself, yet not believe in cramming it down everyone’s throat? Is it possible to demonstrate faith in your book, to witness like the scripture-reading Jehovah Witness standing on your stoop, by citing your good intentions for having wrote it in the first place? How does one convert another into seeing the light, finding the meaning behind your sacrifice, your sweat and tears?
My publisher likes pushing the book-signing approach. But for an introvert, it’s a tough sell. Besides, my take on signings is they’re for those with built-in name recognition, like Stephen King and Sarah Palin. So I continue to hide out on the Web. It’s the simplest, non-intrusive approach, by far. There are a number of websites where people want to be clued in about what’s out there, fresh and ready to be read. Goodreads.com is about as obvious a choice as any for writers and readers to gather. It’s a place where I’ve managed to garner the interest of over 1400 readers through giveaways, and where at least 300 have tentatively added my novel to their ‘to read’ shelves.
Alas, success may be elusive due to timid marketing. Confidence is hard-wired into some, not all. I’m reminded of a Seinfeld episode. After the ‘keys’ incident with Jerry, Kramer takes off for La La Land, where he peddles his ‘movie treatment’ to the likes of an aspiring actress who’s been offered the lead role in a miniseries about Eva Braun and Fred Savage of the Wonder Years. He believes in his product and longs to make it in Hollywood. But his pitch to Fred Savage is filled with awkward nervousness, and, all in all, very unKrameristic, as he topples furniture and frightens Fred enough to send him running out the door. It reminds me of how I might respond in a public setting. I say, who needs it? Still, I’ll give it a try.