I often first think of myself as a reader, despite writing two books and running a blog with often twice-daily content. But because Smart Bitches, Trashy Books is all about reading romance and discussing it, I still see myself as a reader first and foremost.
Read an excerpt from Sarah Wendell's new book, Everything I Know About Love, I Learned From Romance Novels.
Which means that when it came time to promote my own book as an author, I was at a bit of a loss. I love talking about other people's books. I can tell you 56 reasons why Jill Shalvis' upcoming book Head Over Heels (Grand Central, November 2011) worked for me. I can explain in staggering detail why I adore the novels of Sarah Morgan and think everyone should try one—if only to interrupt one's expectations of Harlequin Presents. I can go on at embarrassing length about other people's books. In fact, writing this column, it was increasingly tempting to talk about everyone else's book except my own.
But that's not my job this week. To be frank, the author's job is not just writing the book anymore. The author's job includes promotion, marketing, social outreach and social media, and generally connecting with readers as much as possible. The reader side of me understands this perfectly—I love talking with authors that I enjoy reading. Many readers expect a social media presence for their favorite writers. But even though I understand that, it doesn't make the process of deciding what to do any easier when it came time to promote my own book.
Should I run a contest? Should I blast everyone and everything I can think of on Facebook and Twitter? Should I do a blog tour? Should I send a newsletter? I started to panic at all the possibilities until I asked myself two questions:
1. Who is my potential audience for this book?
2. What do they like, and how can I give it to them?
Turning my authorial panic into a question of what readers like helped break the panic quickly, thank heavens. The potential audience for this book—romance readers who love the genre and love to talk about it. In other words, many of the people who read my site and who buy the same books I do and talk to me about them online, over e-mail, on Twitter, on Facebook, etc.
What do they like? Good books!
Then I asked myself a third question: What am I most proud of about this book? What do I want to most highlight, to make sure everyone notices?
Easy! I am most proud that there are so many readers and writers of romance in this book discussing what they've learned about themselves and their relationships through the romance genre.
So to combine the bountiful excellence of good books, and to highlight all the writers who were so generous with their time as to grant me interviews about the books they've read and written, I came up with an absolutely insane giveaway promotion.
Not only am I giving away a copy of Everything I Know About Love, I Learned From Romance Novels, but I'm giving away a copy of a book written by every author who appears in the book. There's more than 60 books so far and the offers of books to contribute are still coming in. There are few communities more amazing and more generous than the romance community.
Because the genre has given me so much, I wanted to promote as much of the genre as I could while I worked on promoting my own book. Wherever I go, I take the genre with me, literally and figuratively.
So everything I do to promote this book will also focus attention on the best of the genre, because as a reader, that's what I always want—great romance and lots of it.
Sarah Wendell is the co-creator, editor and mastermind of the popular romance blog Smart Bitches, Trashy Books.