When I made the decision to self-publish and self-promote Decrescendo, I bought some do-it-yourself books and signed up for several relevant on-line newsletters. My list of feasible marketing ideas grew steadily. Launching the book and the initial publicity felt exactly like attracting an audience for one of my husband Bill's homegrown theatrical efforts, and I was comfortable with those details. My first priority, however was putting in place the building blocks of Internet marketing. All of that was new to me, but I had good help. I could then use those avenues to publicize the highly successful Book Launch.
Now I’m focused on doing the promotional work that would be done readily by an established publishing firm. In this current market all but the most famous authors are expected to be heavily involved in promoting their own work. However, the publicist assigned to them has the virtual Rolodex with current names, phone numbers and email addresses that can smooth the way. They know who does the booking for Ellen DeGeneres or Diane Rehm and which publications are most likely to review particular genres or subjects. I invest a little time each day in Internet searches trying to build my own A-list of contacts. For the outreach I have done thus far, I prepared all the supportive materials, wrote the cover letter and, if called for, a press release. Then I wrapped the package and took it to the post office.
There are book publicists for hire but my limited budget will stretch further if I do the work myself. CreateSpace (the print-on-demand service we are using) sells promotion packages but I had the same kind of publicity materials printed locally at half the price. The other Rolodex-type services they offer are just too expensive. So for now at least, I’ll continue to be the one-person-band touting Decrescendo.
A happy and helpful surprise in this endeavor has been the steady stream of emails, letters, phone calls and Facebook messages that validate my belief in the worth of my story. It is clear that people are not just buying the book, they are reading it and then buying additional copies to give for Christmas gifts.
I do a lot of thinking at first light, especially if the room is cold and the down comforter is warm. I ponder how I can give Decrescendo national visibility from my mountain home, a long way from anywhere. Early on my daughter-in-law said, “You haven’t gone viral with your book until the (TV) networks call.” If that happens, fine, but I’m more focused on watering and fertilizing the grapevines I am finding. No matter how much I ponder, the answer is always the same: I say to myself, “You can only do one thing at a time, one day at a time.” Then I throw back the covers, sit up, ease my feet into warm wooly slippers and say as Bill did most mornings in his last few years, “It’s time to make the donuts.”