Learning the ropes of book marketing

Last week I took a course at Grub Street, a kind of writer’s club in downtown Boston, on how to promote your book.  There was an enthusiastic group of about 20 students, most of whom had a book of one sort or another coming out in the next year.  Given what I see as the demographics of literary production in general, it didn’t surprise me that only four of the students were men.  The book subjects, fiction and non-fiction, ranged all over, but certainly with a plurality about family relations.  One of other men had a superhero-related book, and there was me, with my AI-hunting suspense novel.  But no one made fun of us.  At least not while we were there.

The class was taught by the enthusiastic Jenna Blum, and I hope I learned something from her.  Through relentless hustling, she turned a poorly-selling hardcover into a best-selling paperback, though just listening to her activities was exhausting.  Relentless self-promotion is, above all, relentless.

For me, I have to balance not only the fact that I have a full-time job, but also the need to write the next book, and short fiction as well.  Several of the participants said they would devote most of their time to promoting their books.  Jenna is taking the next year to promote her second novel, traveling around the country, chasing storms (the book's subject), and managing a bewildering variety of tie-in activities.  That was all more inspiring than useful to me:  there is no way I could manage anything like that.  And if she finds this while Googling herself:  thanks, Jenna Blum!

My goal:  make sure that anyone who could reasonably be expected to enjoy a snarky AI-hunting novel with a lot of suspense knows about Brain Thief and gets a chance to give it a try, particularly those who would not usually try science fiction.  Of all my books, it’s probably the most accessible for those from outside the field.