Most authors I know despise self-promotion. This is one reason e-publishing is repugnant to them. While there are good reasons to publish via traditional publishers (the two biggest: 1. Credibility and, 2. Bookstore Distribution), a publishing house will not eliminate the need for self-promotion. Quite the contrary.
Recently, I’ve talked at length with two friends who have within the last year published via top tier publishing houses—one friend published a business book and the other, a first novel. Both were sorely disappointed with the level promotional assistance they received. The business guy had the self-promotional wherewithal to manage the publisher’s contractual negotiation to retain certain authorship rights and hire PR person to help with a fairly substantial publicity campaign. Thus his book has been a success by all standards. The novelist, thrilled to land a traditional publisher, felt she was in no position to promote herself and was forced into many compromises (title, cover design, etc.) she feels disparaged her book. Alas, the hardbound print-run did not do as well as expected and the publisher has decided not to do a softbound run. Nor will they sell her back the rights. Now she’s extremely discouraged because she believes the perception of this book’s failure will impact any future work she publishes.
I’ve a third friend who e-published in the same time period, and she and her co-authors pulled together an impressive grass roots PR campaign (even nabbed an interview on the Today Show) that far surpassed what the publishing houses were able to achieve for the above two authors/books.
The point is that, like it or not, self-promotion is critical to the success of almost any published work. An author needs to promote his or herself to attract an agent, negotiate agency/publishing contracts, secure that first review/reading, parlay that first review/reading into a second review/reading, and so on and so on, like the old Faberge commercial.
Having self-published a novel and published two business books through a traditional publishing house (i.e. Jossey-Bass), I certainly understand that promoting self-published work takes a lot more effort. Every bookstore you sell through requires a personal relationship/contract and every review requires substantial cajoling. But in the immortal words of Abba, that’s “The Name of the Game.“
As for self-promotional tools, we authors must be Googleable. We must have personal websites, LinkedIn profiles, and Facebook accounts. We must e-mail, blog and Tweet. We need to know which literary sites (Google Books, Goodreads, Red Room, Shelfari, LibraryThing, etc.) are relevant and which redundant. And somewhere we have to find time to write. Oh yea, there’s also the day job. God, if only I knew how to balance it all.
5. Been There, Done That (serial entrepreneurialism)
6. The New New Thing
7. Emergence & Maslow
8. The Analogy of the Watch (moving parts)
9. A Clean Cap Table
10. Perseverance or Blinders
6. Creating you Brand
7. The First Review
8. The Network Effect
9. Amazon Ranking
10. The Book Tour