Hey all! Stacey here chatting with my Doppelganger and fellow PubCrawler Stephanie Garber about a question that plagues many writers: Do you have to say yes to everything?
The world is divided into two types of people, Sherlocks, and Watsons. Sherlock does not give a flying rat’s tail what people think of him. Watson, on the other hand, cares very much about how people feel about him, and how people feel in general.
Both Stephanie and I are more like Watsons. Generally, if someone asks us to do something, we say yes. In the publishing industry, this could be a good thing, as the people who say ‘yes’ (e.g., to interview requests, book events, blog parades) tend to be asked back.
However, too much Watson leads to burnout, and feeling stepped on, or taken advantage of. Watsons worry a little too much about what will happen if they say no.
Today let’s examine the areas in publishing where we should say yes, those in which we should feel free to waffle, and those in which no is fine, too.
Do I have to be on social media?
Stacey: Yes. We know, gentle introverts, we also would rather be walking, reading, heck, cleaning out the refrigerator, than be on social media. But it is difficult, especially for not-yet-established authors, to publish a book without being ‘out there.’ On the bright side, you don’t have to get dressed or put on make up.
Stephanie: When I first joined Twitter not only did I not understand it, I was terrified of it. I felt as if I’d stepped into a party where everyone knew each other, except for me. So, I started really small. Twitter is a great place to share good news, and everyone likes to be congratulated, so I did a lot of congratulating (and I still try to do this). Then, over time, I slowly gained the courage to comment on other types of tweets. Eventually, it just became natural for me to tweet things on my own. So, if any form of social makes you nervous, start small and build up from there.
Do I have to be on Tumblr?
Stacey: No, the good news is that you don’t have to be on Tumblr. There are a host of social media outlets to choose from. In fact, we promise it’s better to do one or two well than a whole bunch so-so.
Stephanie: However, the great thing about Tumblr is that it’s a very generous site. Unlike traditional blogs, it allows you to reblog content, which means that when you post on Tumblr, people can also reshare your news!
Do I have to go on book tours?
Stacey: If your publisher is paying for you to go on book tours, yes, you have to go on book tours.
Stephanie: Also, if you publisher is paying for you to go on a tour, you are very fortunate author. So, even if a book tour might sound intimidating, try to see it for what it is—a chance to promote your book, to meet readers, and to travel to awesome bookish-places!
Do I have to do interviews?
Stephanie: First, check with your publisher and see if they have a strategy for how they would like you to handle interviews. Some publishers don’t mind who interviews you, but other publisher’s like to be more involved in this (for a variety of reasons).
Stacey: As your book birthdays approaches, the interviews tend to pile up, particular for debut authors. Before you tell someone you’re too busy, ask for a later date. It’s a good idea to spread out your exposure, as too many interviews can flood demand. If that’s not an option, ask if you could do something less time-consuming, for example, answering a list of ‘quick draw’ kind of questions (e.g., favorite place to write, red or white wine, stuff that can be answered quickly), or send a favorite picture and why, or a favorite playlist, etc. The blogger is giving you her time, and free exposure, and relationships with bloggers should be nurtured and respected.
Do I have to do public speaking?
Stacey: If you want people to know about your book, then yes, you have to do public speaking. Your public needs you. And I am speaking as one who has stomach cramps for weeks before every speaking engagement. Yet, I think it’s important to push myself because to drop the ball now after carrying it across the field seems premature. The key to getting through this part is being clear on what is expected from you, getting questions in advance, and not to overcommit. Even Watson knows when it’s time to go home and pour a cuppa.
Stephanie: I actually really enjoy public speaking, but there was a time when I didn’t. I could be wrong, but I think a lot of us might be scarred from being forced to give school presentations on topics we really know nothing about. I hate talking about things I’m unfamiliar with. I feel stupid and nervous, and usually the subject is not something I feel passionate about. But I am passionate about books and writing. So when I think of public speaking, I think of it as a platform to share my love, and to hopefully get people as excited as I am about books and writing.
Do I have to blurb people’s books?
Stacey: No, and we know of people who’ve blurbed too many people’s books, and who must go on a ‘blurbing hiatus’ because of it. In this case, you are free to be more like Sherlock and do whatever the heck you want.
Do I have to send my editor presents when my book is published?
Stacey: No, and in fact, sometimes editors will send you special things. However, I think it’s a good practice to acknowledge and celebrate special moments. I sent my editor good chocolate and a thank you card.
Stephanie: Never wear your Sherlock hat when it comes to gratefulness.
Do I have to RT people’s reviews of my book?
Stacey: No, no, no, and the Twitter will be a better place if you didn’t. On the other hand, we like RT’s of your special interviews, and to boost the visibility of the interviewer’s blog/website.
Stephanie: Another great option is the favorite button. I love favoriting things. It lets a person know that you have read what they said and that you have noticed them.
Should I join a debut group or a group blog?
Stacey: It is absolutely helpful to join a debut group. It’s an important source of shared information, and the support you receive from fellow debuts is invaluable when it comes to things like getting your first professional trade review, asking for blurbs, navigating the how’s of a blog tour, etc. Together, you can plan panels for conferences, trade critiques, review ARCs. Many authors find it helpful to join the big debut group as well as a smaller group with more maneuverability and, sometimes, privacy. It can be tempting to align yourself with many groups, but we’d caution against this as keeping up with all those groups takes TIME.
Also, we know plenty of authors that didn’t join debut groups, and guess what? They’re doing just fine. So if following the crowd isn’t your style, we support you, Sherlock.