Brian T Shirley

Brian T Shirley
Jokers Wild, Atlantis Resort

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Promotion, the toughest part of being an Indie

  I was emailing back and forth with the editor of the Amock comedy site the other day and he lamented to me about the whole promotion thing. Amock was an online comedy comedy magazine until about a week ago. Now it's a comedy website, which does not bother me I still write for them and hope the site is successful. I was telling him about my new book coming out ( A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the club) and all the promotional work I have been doing. Interviews, setting up future interviews, the whole social media thing, making contacts and just plain getting the word out. He sent me a email asking how the hell I could keep it up because it's just so damn frustrating. He's right, it's a lot of work for no money what so ever....right now. I'm busting my ass for the hope of a future pay off, but then again it's actually for more than that.
  In 2009 I put out my first comedy book "Make Love Not Warts" and thought that once I put the word out I could sit back and relax. WRONG! It barely sold any off the Internet, but this book sold real well after my shows. I was frustrated, but I kept up the faith.

  I then put out "Four Score and Seven Beers Ago.." a couple of years later in 2011. This time I got a lot more involved in the marketing. I worked on my website, got more involved on LinkedIn, twitter and FB. I also started trying to learn as much as I could about book promotion.  I had done an email and press release campaign through my publisher, which I'm still paying for on my credit cards, and I learned that was a mistake. I'm now doing everything myself.

 I'm on the way to book #3 with much more knowledge about this publishing game and the biggest lesson I've found is I still have a lot to learn. I used to get real frustrated with the slow pace of the whole process, but now I try to accomplish something everyday towards my goals. I use any little promotion I get to push the books, to push my comedy career or to push both at the same time.

 I'm using a simple process right now. I follow discussions on LinkedIn that deal with writing, comedy, comedians, authors, entertainers, and writers. I read the posts, comment when I can add to the discussion, offer words of wisdom or words of encouragement. Reading the posts of people that feel just as pissed off as me about their lack of book sales takes the isolation away. I'm the only published author I know. There really is no one to relate to, as far as being an author goes, except on the Internet.

I've also found that I'm really pretty lucky when it comes to interviews. I'm actaully in a book of author interviews that just came out on Amazon. I have found several ways to finding people who interview authors. I read other author interviews then reach out to the people that interviewed them.I also joined a site that sends me an email with 2 or 3 radio shows looking for guests. Sometimes they looking for authors, sometimes comedians, I can do either one. Other times I can't fill the bill, but I've been getting about one interview a week or at least 3 a month with this system for the last several months. Some are on Internet radio, some on blogs and some on regular radio. Being a Comedian and a author makes me attractive to a lot of shows because it's something different.

The best thing is when I get promo for the books, I can use it to push my comedy career. I'm telling the clubs "Hey, if you give me some dates, I'll mention the club in my interviews." Some clubs pay attention, the big clubs could care less, but if feels good to know I have something to offer that's different.

 I hope the authors who take a look at this post will take a step back and realize that writing the book was really the easy part. But there's no need to get dicouraged, find a way to make the promotional process less painful. Try to learn a new aspect of marketing, no matter how small, every day or myabe every week. Make it a game if you have to and reach out to other authors. Just when you think you're the only one who feels  a certain way, you'll see a post that articulates exactly what you're going through.

 The biggest thing I've learned is that there's a lot of talented Indie authors out there who offer each other a lot of support. I've never met these people face to face, but some of them have been a huge help. I've also learned the best promotion I can get is to help my fellow writers as much as possible.