Book Promotion Boot Camp

When the six week advance sales period for The Glass Sponge began in January, I thought I’d already established an above average social media presence. I thought Amish web designers would drool over my carefully crafted writer’s platform.index

Wednesday, March 6th is the last day of advance sales for The Glass Sponge and ten percent donation to CASA of SW Missouri. With only a few days remaining, I’d compare my book promotion experience to sitting on a see-saw relentlessly pushing myself up to catch a glimpse of a spectacular view from a park I drove by for twenty-five years but never entered until this year.

Marketing and promoting The Glass Sponge was harder than I expected. Last fall, when I received packets of information from Finishing Line Press explaining what they’d do to promote and market my book, I thought, this is cool—if they market it, people will buy it.

I’ve been reading print and online trade journals and magazines for years, but these last six months I studied articles related to book promotion like my…well, like my book depended on it. I bought Guerrilla Marketing. I joined Pinterest, created two boards—wow—and started pinning pictures in a process I don’t understand but have nicknamed “Where’s the Donkey?”

I promoted The Glass Sponge through blogs, Facebook and LinkedIn posts, emails, snail mail and speaking engagements. The community offered their support with press releases, newspaper articles and an invitation to an author book signing event. Friends and family shared my blogs on their Facebook pages. After diving off my platform twenty times a day and climbing back up a ladder that grew like bamboo, I thought, this is cool—if I market it, surely they will buy it.

RJ asked how the book was doing yesterday and I said, “I don’t know how the book’s doing. It’s inert—words on paper and a flash drive waiting to be printed in chapbook format.”

My husband gave me his patient face—lips set, eyes glazing over, nostrils barely widening—and said, “Book sales.”

I said, “I don’t watch book sales like a hawk or agonize over numbers in weekly sales updates.” I muttered, “Which I expected to be three times higher.”

“I didn’t catch that last part.”

I smiled without moving my lips and lied, “Just reminding myself to pick up cat food.” (If you marry a man who’s been a drummer for forty years it’s easier to change what you said because he might suffer a little hearing loss.)

“I bought cat food this morning and stop worrying about sales. Your sales are great, especially for your first book.”

“I’m not worried about sales. Not worried about humans and not worried about how they’ll respond to the poems in my inert book.”

“Are you separating yourself from your audience?”

“I’m building a platform, not rebuilding the Berlin Wall. I might be distancing myself from a couple people who promised they were going to buy my book.”

“You can’t take it personally or be resentful.”

“I’m not resentful.”

“Angry?”

“Not angry. Just can’t stop thinking about the abused and neglected children in Greene County Missouri who won’t benefit from money they could’ve received from advance sales of The Glass Sponge.”

“Was that a sales ploy?” RJ asked.

“You think I’d stoop so low I’d resort to Guilt Selling? That’s dangerous—it can backfire on you. Did you forget about my years of retail sales management experience?”

“Book sales are different,” RJ said.

“I think most products are sold using some type of emotional sales technique, especially works of fiction.

“Perhaps. No matter what, I’m proud of you. You’re a few sales away from your goal.”

“Not The Goal; the greatest goal that would offer a substantial gift to CASA to train advocates to assist abused and neglected children.”

“You did it again—Guilt Selling,” RJ accused.

“Nope. That was an example of the Sympathy Sales method. It’s common in fund raising.”

“But you’re not using it as a sales ploy?”

“Just an example,” I answered. “A sales ploy is only a sales ploy if the buyer realizes it.”

“I respect you for not using those tactics,” RJ said.

“You don’t need them when you have a carefully crafted writer’s platform.”

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Jules Jacob

julie ginkgoJulie "Jules" Jacob is a contemporary poet who often writes about dichotomous conditions and relationships among humans and the natural world. Her poems are recently featured or forthcoming in Plume Poetry, The Tishman Review, Glass: A Journal of Poetry, Rust + Moth, Yes Poetry and elsewhere. She is the author of The Glass Sponge chapbook with select poems featured at the Colorado Gallery of the Arts and Le Moulin à Nef where she was a resident of the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts Poetry Workshop.

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— Dr. Harrison Solow. Harrison Solow is a Pushcart Prize winning writer, author and university professor. Her latest book is Felicity & Barbara Pym.

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