Go out of your comfort zone…

Many writers are introverts. That’s a nice way to say we’re nerdy. People say I talk funny, use big words, and derive pleasure from unusual activities. Guilty as charged.

If you accept this stereotypical description of a writer (many stereotypes are over-generalized and over-extrapolated statements based on limited data sets), do you accept the premise that PR and marketing is hard for writers? I find it difficult, and I’d rather be writing. Even these serious blog articles (OK, some aren’t so serious) are more fun than PR and marketing. The main benefits derived from my fiction writing are found in the actual storytelling and the pleasure obtained from entertaining at least a few people who read my stories. That comes my way whether I’m successful at PR and marketing or not (that success is hard to measure in general because it doesn’t guarantee a wildly successful book).

But I’m also a type-A personality, so I do try new things, however reluctantly. While teaching in Colombia, South America, we had to experiment with large lecture classes, common in the U.S. but not so much in Latin America. Our small department was facing a crisis because it had to teach an increasingly large population of engineering students. Imagine a nerdy prof getting up in front of 200+ kids and essentially pulling off a one-man theater shtick three times per week. That’s called going out of your comfort zone.

Book marketing is like that. It’s something every author must do nowadays, if only to organize a marketing campaign and hire the people necessary to do the job. For your stereotypical nerdy author, any of that means going out of her or his comfort zone. I’ve found it can be rewarding, though, because it often involves meeting new people and doing new things.

An experience I had last year illustrates my point. I was the only author hawking his books at the Holly Berry Show, a traditional holiday arts and crafts event run by the Upper Montclair Women’s Club. Mind you, a bit of time and money was invested in preparing for this show. The rewards included selling quite a few books, but the biggest ones corresponded to meeting complete strangers and talking about writing, books, and the book business with them. And some of my writer’s stereotypes were shattered too as I met elderly people interested in sci-fi and tweens interested in mysteries. (I was selling both The Midas Bomb, a mystery/thriller, and Rogue Planet, a sci-fi novel.) Besides these pleasant interchanges, I also got to know quite a few vendors, all artists just like me, although their creative talents and efforts weren’t dedicated to writing fiction.

I’m sorry I can’t repeat this experience this coming November, but I’ll try to return the following year. I’m also committed to a presentation at the Montclair Women’s Club in January 2018 (our NYC’s suburb of Montclair is big enough to have two zip codes and two women’s clubs!). I’ve been assured that there will be fewer than 200 people present, so I won’t be reliving my experiences with large lecture classes and the audience will probably be much more attentive than those college kids.

I don’t like large crowds. In fact, I’ll go bonkers in a large gathering (“rock concerts” as a young man took place in auditoriums with numbered seats and not Woodstock). I can’t wait to get out of a crowded elevator, bus, or subway car either. But the experience at the Holy Berry Show was different because people who stopped by were interested in what the vendors had to sell and weren’t in too much of a hurry. They were also going out of their comfort zone at times, I suspect, especially the precocious tweens chatting it up with this old man. I expect January’s experience to be equally positive and refreshingly new.

Going out of your comfort zone is almost always a surprisingly pleasant experience when it comes to book marketing. Of course, you’ll often come across people who make snarky or preachy remarks, but overall, if you’re a fiction writer who wants to imbue her or his characters with real human traits, these experiences are valuable. And they generally cover the two goals of book marketing: adding to the name recognition of the author and letting readers know about what s/he’s written.

I’ve always been an observer of people. Interacting with them is even better. And every writer should remember that word-of-mouth is still the best PR and marketing strategy, whether s/he achieves it through personal interactions with readers or on the internet.


Rembrandt’s Angel (a mystery/thriller from Penmore Press). To what lengths would you go to recover a stolen masterpiece? Scotland Yard’s Arts and Antiques Inspector Esther Brookstone goes the extra mile. She and paramour/sidekick Bastiann van Coevorden, an Interpol agent, set out to outwit the dealers of stolen art and recover “An Angel with Titus’ Features,” a Rembrandt painting stolen by the Nazis in World War Two. Their efforts lead to much more, as they uncover an international conspiracy that threatens Europe. During their dangerous adventures, their relationship solidifies and becomes a full-blown romance.

For a review and interview with the author, see Feathered Quill, one of the best review and interview sites on the web. This book is available in ebook format at Amazon and at Smashwords and its affiliate retailers and lenders. It’s available as a print version at Amazon, Apple, B&N, Kobo, or your favorite bookstore (if not there, ask them to order it).

In libris libertas!

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