Today award winning author Lois Cloarec Hart tells us a bit about her approach to marketing:
I published my first book in 2001, and it took me until 2013 to publish my fifth, which pretty much confirms I am neither a writing whirlwind nor a marketing savant. But while the former may never change (sorry, Astrid), I do feel a responsibility toward the basics of marketing in today’s online world.
That said, the spotlight is anathema to me. I once spent a mostly delightful day with my wife and some of her family at a local natural history museum. We’d gone to a Genghis Khan exhibit and then lingered to explore. One section of the museum is devoted to interactive displays where visitors can play with lasers, mirrors, water, and acoustics. I was having fun manipulating one of the displays when I realized I was being watched by several bystanders. I bolted, and to this day I’m sure my wife thinks I took a long walk off a short pier that afternoon. I couldn’t explain to her what happened. All I knew was that it shriveled me up inside to be the focus of attention. This is not a positive trait for someone who’s supposed to draw interest to her work, because as I’ve been reliably informed, readers who feel some connection to the author are more willing to check out their work.
Since I’m unable to separate the creator from the creation, how do I, as a card-carrying introvert, market my books? The things I’ve done in the past—readings, book launches, cold calls to bookstores in the hopes they’ll carry my work, are psychologically draining. But in the past year I’ve seen the benefits of playing to my strength—writing. My endlessly patient publisher has coaxed me out of my hidey-hole and into a bigger online presence. I’ve had a website for a long time, but it often languished unattended for months at a time. Now I’m much better about ensuring it’s current. I participated in a Virtual Living Room weekend ‘spot-on’ in early January, which turned out to be a blast. That led to me joining five fellow Canadian authors in setting up a website (Moose Hall) to promote the work of Canadian lesbian fiction (please drop in and visit us at http://canadianlesfic.com/.)
I’ve done a few blogs and interviews and did a ‘Conversation at the Bar’ with Cocktail Hour Productions (http://cocktailhour.us/) on March 5th. I’ve also done a two-hour author-to-author interview/spotlight with Ylva’s brilliant writer-senior editor, Jae, in the Virtual Living Room on February 16th. Additionally, Jae is doing a written interview with me for the upcoming release of the revised third edition of Coming Home in March.
I did three Goodreads giveaways—the latest of which saw copies of Broken Faith going to Ireland and Canada—, and I’ll be doing another one when Coming Home is released. When I return to Canada after my winter sojourn in the Deep South, I have a four-hour reading/appearance scheduled at a Calgary Chapters/Indigo bookstore in May.
I look at what I just typed and I want to scurry back to my hidey-hole, but I won’t, because while all of these may not be within my comfort zone, they are things that I can handle, even as an incurable introvert. Mind you, I’ll probably need my friends to wheel me into the Chapters appearance on a dolly because I’ll be stiff with fright, but I know I’ll get through that. It’s a reality of the field I so unexpectedly find myself in (there’s a reason I named my website ‘An Accidental Author.’) With the proliferation of lesbian fiction, my responsibility is not simply to write the best book I’m capable of; it’s also to ensure that readers are aware I’ve done so.
Lois Cloarec Hart