Monday, February 09, 2009

Libraries and Self-Promotion

Vicki here to remind you that there is only one more day to enter the contest to win a signed hardcover of Valley of the Lost (see details below). If you haven’t seen it yet, have a look at my wonderful book trailer ( and read the first chapter (

Doom and gloom seems to be the pervading mood these days in the publishing biz. Saturday’s Globe and Mail ran an article headlined “Publish, and your book will probably perish.” It quotes Margaret Atwood “The term ‘relentless self-promoter’ used to be an insult in publishing circles. Now it will be a necessity.” Easy for Margaret to say, but those of us down here in the mid-list have always had to do our own promotion. Sure the game is changing, and it does seem to be harder to get noticed. (Did I mention that my book trailer is up at You Tube?).

The article gives the mind-boggling example of a writer who wrote a research-heavy non-fiction book, which did reasonably well, and she figures she LOST over $200,000 when she factors in the time she took off her job, the cost of research trips, the travel, and promotion.

On the bright side, I believe that we authors have one tremendous advantage over the music or movie business that is often overlooked. Libraries.

Are people cutting back on buying books? Yes. Are they cutting back on reading books? No. And it’s libraries that fill the gap. A mid-list mystery author sells around 70 – 80% of their books to libraries. Thus if no one bought a single book for the rest of the year, my sales would certainly slump, but my book would still get into people’s hands through their library. Debby and I will be visiting lots of libraries on our “HOT AND COLD” book tour, and I’m sure we’ll get enthusiastic readers out to talk to us about books.

If you’d like to read Valley of the Lost (or Debby’s new one, Pleasing the Dead, or a book by anyone else at Type M) and you can’t afford your own copy – go to the library. If the library doesn’t have it, ask them if they’ll order it for you. Many libraries try to grant their patron’s requests.

The important thing is to keep reading, and writing.

One more thing. As someone who is about to embark on the promotion of my new book I have to ask the question: At what point does ‘relentless self-promotion’ become self-defeating? I think of an e-mail blast I once got from an author. Hit, Hit, Hit, into my mail box. Delete, delete, delete, I went. I now consider that author’s books to be on the same level as that penis enlargement I am constantly being told I need. When does talking about your book become bragging?

Is it ever possible to do too much promotion?


Anonymous said...

Vicki, I'm sure looking forward to VALLEY OF THE LOST. My library will be getting it I know because we have all your other books. Also, because I made the big plea to our book purchasers to please, please, please buy all the Poisoned Pen Press books. Hope they listened to me!

Vicki Delany said...

It's people like you, Kay, who keep us writing. Many thanks.