On book marketing

16 June 2022

They say, “try to do something that scares you.” They say, “say yes to everything.” Who are “they”? And why exactly am I listening to them?

Writing a book was scary

Actually, I take that back. Writing a book, specifically Sweet Little You wasn’t scary. It was necessary. I started writing it, as I start writing most things, out of frustration. I love my daughter’s little library of books. Ok, it’s not so little. She has a 3-shelf bookcase in her room. And books on a shelf in her closet. And 2 small shelves of books in the living room.

I didn’t even buy most of them. It’s true that I can’t help myself in a bookstore (in person or otherwise), but the majority of her books were gifts. At my baby shower, I received a number of “welcome baby” books, which we love to read, but they are full of “mommy and daddy” and “we”, refering to the “typical” 2-parent family structure. My daughter and I have also read the collection of books out there that address other family structure: 2 moms, 2 dads, grandparents, aunts, uncles, etc. Very few talk about single parents, or if they do, it is a passing reference or in the context of divorce.

That’s not quite us.

We also have the books that talk about donor conceived children that are specifically for families with single mothers by choice, like me. Those books are great! I started reading them to my daughter when she was 2, and then I quickly realized that those books were completely going over her head. And that is fine. She will grow into them. But I was still craving a book that she could understand at a younger age.

So, Sweet Little You was born.

Marketing a book is scarier

I am a life-long programmer. I wrote my first line of code when I was 7. After some fits and starts, I made programming my career. It’s logical. Computers make sense (for the most part). You tell a computer what to do and it (usually) does it.1

People are not computers. I am trying to sell my book. To people.

Marketing (e.g. selling things to people) has never been my strong suit. There are no guarantees. There’s no one right way to do it. There’s no one way to do it period. You have to keep track of social media and a website and retail sites and reach out to indie bookstores and libraries and bloggers and Instagrammers and TikTok-ers (and, btw, I’m not even on TikTok) and maybe start a newsletter and, assuming people sign up for a newsletter, think of interesting things to say on a semi-regular basis.

It’s a bit overwhelming, with a steep learning curve and a very large side of impostor syndrome.

Scary for someone who’s spent 20 years bossing computers around. Wish me luck!

P.S. Please buy my book!

  1. Computers are weird. They really will do exactly what you tell them to. Even if exactly doesn’t match your intent. And then there’s AI. Don’t get me started on AI.