Saturday, November 05, 2005

Zen and the Art of Book Promotion

Stories of Strength is off to a good start. I enjoy being associated with writers who are willing to donate so much effort to the production and promotion of a book, and I'm proud to be a part of such a worthy effort (disaster relief). SOS truly is the little book that can, and has already climbed to number one on Lulu's list of bestselling titles.

I'm trying to do my part promoting the book. Besides mentioning it here, I contacted all of the local booksellers, and the collections manager for the local Library system. I also sent press releases to scores of newspaper and magazine editors. I collect business cards the way some people collect pennies -- trust me, the cards are much more valuable. Everyone who ever said hello to me in an elevator received a press release from me this week. My own paper ran an article with my picture, and two other papers have asked me to send photos. One of those papers has previously run some of my stories, but because of the magic of technology, I'd never met the managing editor. When she replied to my emailed press release, I got a valuable lesson on Zen and the art of book promotion.

Her first reply asked for pictures. Her second email asked me some very specific questions about my writing, and about my experience in the newspaper business. I answered her questions, and asked why she was so interested -- these questions didn't seem tied to the article about the book. She replied with another question. Would I be interested in coming to work for her?

Now, I'm no newbie at networking, and I won't pretend to be for the sake of this story. When I was eight years old, my grandpappy said, "It ain't important who you are, it's important who you know," and I've been networking ever since. Developing contacts is a major part of a journalist's life, and you never know which contact is going to become the most important one you ever made. I do know this, when you invest time and effort into a good deed, your investment always pays dividends.

The few hours I invested in promoting Stories of Strength was to help raise money for hurricane victims. I didn't expect anything in return, but the returns have been phenomenal. I drove over to the coast for an interview with the managing editor on Friday, and we clicked. She offered me the managing editor's desk at a small community newspaper her publisher owns. I'll report to her, so although I'll manage the editorial department, my title won't be Managing Editor. I told her I needed a few days to think about her offer, but that was mainly because I know enough about negotiating to never look too eager, and even those of us in the nickel and dime world of newspaper reporting like to get paid. I know she reads my blog, I just hope she won't read this until after we agree on a salary.

By the way, if anyone would like to learn a bit about book promotion while you are waiting for your own books to find publishers, Stories of Strength is a great way to learn and to do something worthwhile at the same time. Contact me, or go to the How You Can Help page at, for ways you can help promote the book... getting your library to order it would be a nice start.

p.s. I'd like to start an online critique circle. I want a small group, six to ten writers who are interested in improving their own writing, and who understand that you can improve your own work by helping others improve theirs. I prefer novel writers, partially because the troubles we all have with queries and synopses are things we can help each other with, and partially because I'm a novelist, not a short story writer. I wish I was, a few literary magazine credits couldn't hurt my career. If you are interested, either email me, or leave a comment here. Thanks.

To my friends, know that I have been reading your blogs, but this last week has been so hectic and tiring I just haven't had the energy to respond most of the time. I'll try to do better.

Mark Pettus,
Saturday, November 05, 2005

14 comments so far. Thank you, Blogger Caryn, Blogger Dawno, Blogger Caryn, Blogger Bernita, Blogger serenity, Blogger Kelly Parra, Blogger Jeff, Blogger Dennie McDonald, Anonymous Anonymous, Blogger Joanne D. Kiggins, Blogger Jill, Blogger S. W. Vaughn, Blogger Mark Pettus, Blogger Ray Wong,

Let me know what you think

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at 5:48 PM Blogger Caryn said...

Excellent idea with sending out press releases to anyone from whom you've ever secured a business card. I can see I need to start being better about collecting business cards, for whenever that magical day arrives. Would love to hear more about your ideas for publicity and networking, if you're ever out of anything else to blog about (or about which to blog, if you're into correct grammar!).

at 6:53 PM Blogger Dawno said...

Great news about the position. If you need a Silicon Valley stringer, let me know. ;-)

I need to get my act together and start promoting SOS here. It's seems harder since I'm not a contributor so the "local author" angle is shot.

I'm still anxiously awaiting my copy so I can read it and speak about it to bookstore people, etc., as well as to have a copy they can look at.

Let us all know if the paper you're going to work for has an online version!

at 12:25 AM Blogger Caryn said...

Duh. Forgot to congratulate you on your job offer. Good luck with it. I'm working too many hours and still trying to write, so I'm just not focusing well these days. Anyway, enjoy it! Sounds like you really wowed them.

at 12:32 PM Blogger Bernita said...

Mark, that is just wonderful news!
Good things DO happen to good people. It's good too, to be reminded of that. I am so pleased for you!
I would love to be part of your critique group, but I am so technically challenged that I'd probably end up deleting the entire blog or sending up a Titan missile or something.However, if there is something in a small way I could do, just make comments or something I would be happy to do so.

at 1:50 PM Blogger serenity said...

Hey, congrats on the new job! My newspaper days were ... frightening, but I wouldn't give up the experience for anything. Hope you enjoy it, and may you receive at least five insane tirades from readers. LoL! You know they're reading when they're complaining. :)

at 4:46 PM Blogger Kelly Parra said...

Mark, you've been busy. A good busy. Congrats on the new job. I hope it works out well. Now if you need a new blog post idea, I'd love to know about writing Press Releases! Or read the one you sent out. Sorry, I'm just eager to learn. =)

at 7:12 PM Blogger Jeff said...

Nice post, and I join the others in congratulating you on your new job. The writing group is intriguing, but I'm probably too much of a novice to be worthy. :)

at 10:35 AM Blogger Dennie McDonald said...

Congrats on new job!

Crit groups scare me - I belong to a local one and as a romance writer they try to give me support but most don't quite "get" the genre.

Good luck with it!

at 3:23 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

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Come and check it out if you get time :-)

at 11:43 PM Blogger Joanne D. Kiggins said...

Congratulations on the job offer, Mark. How wonderful! If you need a contributing peep from PA let me know. ;) Great job on promoting Stories of Strength!

at 9:48 PM Blogger Jill said...

Congrats on the job offer, Mark! Way to go. :)

at 9:40 AM Blogger S. W. Vaughn said...

Mark, congrats on the job! Hope it's going well...

BTW -- where'd ya go?? You've been conspicuously absent here. :-)


at 3:21 PM Blogger Mark Pettus said...

Thank You All!

I hope to update this weekend. Two hours, all I need is two hours...

at 9:48 PM Blogger Ray Wong said...

What can I say. Good things happen to good people.


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