Over the past two weeks I’ve become obsessed with the blog. I’ve done research on how to increase traffic and studied which posts elicited more comments and more traffic than others. I’ve thought about it all day long and late into the night. And it wasn’t until Webmaster Bill suggested that we might want to try and get a mention in major publishing magazines that the light bulb went off. I suddenly realized that it had happened to me. I see it with authors all the time, but I never thought it could happen to an agent.
I had become a publicity addict. I had gotten so caught up in the ego of the blog that I lost site of my true role. My job is to sell books, not to blog. The blog is a way for me to connect with readers, publicize my authors and help teach people the business of publishing. But it’s not my job.
This realization couldn’t have come at a better time. I had been trying for weeks to write a post on publicity addiction and here I was living it. Publicity is critically important and all authors should be doing it to some extent, but as Kenny Rogers says, ‘you have to know when to walk away.”
So how do you know you’re a publicity addict? Here are some questions to ask yourself:
Do you think about publicity more than you think about your next book?
Are you more concerned with seeing your name in a magazine, newspaper, online review, or other blogs than you are about seeing your name on the cover of a book?
Are you more excited about getting your name in magazines, newspapers or blogs than you are about seeing your name on the cover of your book?
Are you spending all or most of your advance on publicity?
Are you compulsively doing publicity because others have told you what they do or do you actually know that it’s working for you? In other words, have you seen a return on investment?
Are you now writing your second, third, or fourth book and spending just as much time and energy doing the same publicity you did for your first?
If you said yes to even one of these questions it’s time for an intervention. Let’s face it folks, publicity is an ego trip. Sure we are branding our names and letting people know the book exists that’s why we started publicity. But a publicity addict has lost site of that goal. She’s no longer just trying to brand. It’s become about her ego. Just like my addiction to the blog. It no longer became about promoting the business, it became about being the best blogger. You know what? It became a popularity contest.
I run a business. And in any business time is money, and money is money. No business (remember, authors are a business) succeeds by spending all of its time or money on publicity. A successful business spends no more than 10-15 percent. And that’s all any of us should be spending–ten to fifteen percent of our days and ten to fifteen percent of our advances.
If we are going to continue to do publicity and we want it to work we need to remember what our biggest campaign should be. No publicity is going to work if your product isn’t there. First priority needs to be making sure that each book you write is better, stronger, sexier, funnier, scarier and more brilliant than the last. Just like I need to remember what my true focus needs to be. Each contract I negotiate needs to be better, stronger, scarier and more brilliant than the last (I’m going to skip sexy and funny). By doing that we’ll be our own best publicity.
I am slowly coming out of my addiction and you will too. It’s going to be a long road, but for right now I’m off to sell some books…