David Poulsen on Self-Promotion in Modern Publishing

David Poulsen on Self-Promotion in Modern Publishing

Posted on February 10 by David A. Poulsen in News
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Bob Dylan said something about, “The times they are a-changing”. He probably wasn’t referring to the whole notion of promotion of children’s and YA books but the line is certainly appropriate. Gone are the days of the media/book store tour arranged (and paid for) by your publisher. In fact, publishers are very clear on the subject--authors are not merely encouraged, they are expected to play a vital role in the promotion of their books. Not a bad thing really. But the new world order as it applies to book promotion has created a pretty steep learning curve for old school writers like, say…me. For example I was front and centre in the planning and execution of the launch of my latest YA novel Old Man. I made calls, sent out invitations, discussed arrangements with the amazing McNally Robinson staff and even had input into what refreshments would be served that evening. Truth is I not only enjoyed it—I was happy to have a role in planning a pivotal moment in the life of my book. Then there was social media. As a guy who cynically viewed Facebook as “Braggbook”, I admit it was challenging finding a middle ground between the boastful “look at me and how great I am” posts that I still find offensive and those imparting news and information, some of it celebratory, about what is happening in the writer’s life.

Oh, and your website—yeah, you might want to keep it up-to-date—I learned that too. Blogs, like this one, and twitter, aren’t merely useful, they’re a critical part of the promotion plan for our books.

Then came another hairpin turn in that learning curve—the ‘book trailer’.  I’d heard of them, of course, even seen a few--but had no real idea how to produce and distribute one. Truth is the book trailer can be as simple (and inexpensive) as you want it to be or if you are able to access people in the film/television/video industry it can be a little more elaborate and cost a little more money. I had fun working on mine and although it took a lot longer than I’d anticipated, it’s here at last. I hope you like it and just as importantly, I hope it will do the job I expect it to in helping promote Old Man (Take a look!). Ditto the school study guide (I knew what this was, of course, from my teaching days, but again I needed to find out how to have one created--one that teachers will find useful and want to incorporate into their English classes)...again I employed the strategy that worked for the book trailer----find people who DO know about these things and recruit them to do the job. Two amazing ladies from Beechy, Saskatchewan, who I met on one of my recent (self-organized) book tours—one a school principal, the other a retired high school English teacher--did a phenomenal job and it too is here and accessible if you’d like to check it out. So there it is—bottom line is that you will need to spend almost as much time promoting your writing as you will doing the writing. The upside is that it can be a lot of fun and it does impact sales—which is kind of important.

It seems funny to say this but I'm almost as excited about the newly-minted book trailer and study guide as I was about the appearance of the book itself. It’s a good thing, I guess, because when it comes to the promotion of our books, those times they have a-changed forever.

David A. Poulsen

Posted by Kendra on October 30, 2014
David A. Poulsen photo

David A. Poulsen

David A. Poulsen has been a broadcaster, teacher, football coach, and — most of all — a writer. He is the author of more than twenty-five books, including the first three books in the Cullen and Cobb Mystery series. He lives on a ranch in the Alberta foothills near Calgary.