In my last post I wrote about promoting your debut novel from my experience with King of the Class. Today I want to list some don’ts.
- Don’t forget to make a post-novel plan. What do you want to do now that your novel’s been out for a while? Write a new novel? Go on a book tour? Go back to your day job? Try a new genre? This is especially important if you are anything like me i.e., flounders without specific goals.
- Don’t respond to criticism. It’s an absurd expectation to think you will write a book that appeals to everyone. Thank them for reading your work and move on. Some comments might be indecipherable. One reader told me that I was admired and talented and then went on to write that the best thing for me would be to write a novel that had no Jews, no Israel and nothing to do with any religion whatsoever. That would be a book to read, if I’d only write it! Umm. Thanks. I think.
- Don’t check Amazon’s author central more than once a week. Your writer life won’t change by the minute. Is it worth becoming obsessed with that graph?
- Don’t use an amateur author photo or one that makes you cringe. Almost every publication and site that prints even the smallest mention of King of the Class requests a photo. After that your photo pops up on the internet everywhere.
- Don’t confuse yourself with your work (see #2). You want people ultimately to like and care about you, not your writing. If someone lets you know they didn’t enjoy your novel, that’s not a criticism of you. Ditto for the opposite. When you receive a rave review from a critic or friend, let a smile go to your face (a big one!), but keep your feet on the ground.
- Don’t turn down publicity in the smallest publication or blog. You never know who reads what and whether or not a larger publication might repost information about your work or ask for an interview. Readership is valuable. Period.
- Don’t forget to follow-up. If you or your publisher mailed out courtesy copies, keep a list that includes dates and follow up 6-8 weeks later. This is not rude, it’s smart. Out of 100 courtesy copies around 15% of my follow-up emails read: Sorry, Gila your copy never arrived. You can resend or offer an electronic version if your mail budget is depleted. This is someone who has agreed to a copy. Don’t waste a potential review by not following-up. It’s also preferable to making assumptions about certain editors and possibly bad mouthing them.
- Don’t send courtesy copies to editors who don’t review your genre. Unless you have an unlimited budget for courtesy copies, make sure your copies are going to reviewers of your genre. There are people who will say yes to a courtesy copy of a novel without mentioning what they review. Even if you ask them to pass it on to someone who does review your genre, that person never agreed to a courtesy copy.
- Don’t assume anyone cares as much about your work as you do. I’ve read this before, but it’s worth repeating. Not your publisher, spouse, sibling, child, best friend, editor or publisher cares as much about your work as you do. Translation: the hard promotional work is yours.
- Don’t be afraid to talk to strangers. There’s no need to overdo this, but I wrote a few writers I’ve never met if I thought they published a similar genre or with a similar-sized press and asked for advice. Most are happy to help and expanding your writers’ community is a good thing.