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The pleasure of learning a new trade

November 20, 2011

You might feel intimidated or burdened by the idea of having to generate attention for your work. (“Isn’t that the publisher’s job?” you might be asking yourself. “Where do I start?” might be your overriding concern.)

A few pointers here:

1. Break it down: don’t try to do/learn everything at once. Small tasks, small goals, a little each day and it all adds up. Trying to figure out which media to pitch or that your publicist should pitch? Then aim to identify three good leads a week.

2. Focus, rather than go mass: Want to reach bloggers who write about your subject? Then reach out to one or two a week. Make the outreach meaningful rather than a buckshot email blast. Start by posting thoughtful comments on their pages about their posts. They will likely write back to you and voilà, you’ve started a conversation. Keep it real—insincerity is so easily detected.

3. Get to know the media you’re pitching: This way you don’t waste a journalist’s time, or your own. Read and watch the media where you think you and your book belong. Then your pitch letter (or your publicist’s pitch) is more likely to be on target.

4. Take the time to get to know your new profession: You are in a new trade. While you likely have a busy day job doing something that makes a more lucrative living, your writing career is no part time thing. Get to know its ways in order to do well in it.  To dip your toes in, start with Publishers Weekly, the trade magazine for the book and author business.

5. Learn from the masters: Track the progress of writers you admire to see how their publicity campaigns took shape and how their online presence has helped them build their audiences.

6. Enjoy yourself: This is an exciting time for anyone in the media business. Never has there been such an immediate way to reach readers directly. Take advantage of the many tools around you to publicize your book.

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