“I have always believed in marketing a book for its full life, not for a season or a set time period. The one thing I have learned about marketing is that it can be endless.”
Sometimes an author is her own best publicist — and sometimes an author-publicist can show her friends and readers a thing or two. At Broad Street, we were all ears when first-time author and long-time publicist Caitlin Hamilton Summie was willing to share her experience. She says she “thought it would be hard to market my own book, that it would be awkward to help develop a marketing plan discussing myself” — but it turned out to be one of the most joyful jobs she’d ever taken on.
Begin with the opening below, or click through to read the full article here.
Two Hats at Once
In August this year, my first book was published, a collection of short stories called To Lay to Rest Our Ghosts.
The publisher, Fomite, is small but mighty. The press has more than one hundred books in print as I write this essay, and their titles have been begun to win some awards.
Like other small presses, Fomite doesn’t have the staff to do a lot of marketing for its titles, so the authors must do the bulk of marketing and publicity themselves. This was fine with me because I have been a book publicist for more than twenty years, and I own a book marketing firm with my husband, Rick. I understand how to bring a book out.
The fun part began immediately. Within a matter of weeks, we had cover art and a book title. (This is not how it works generally. Cover development can take some time, but in my case, Fomite found the perfect image right away). It was great fun to announce that I had a book forthcoming on social media. Then later I posted the final cover. Choosing the cover was a collaboration among the publisher, me, and even my family, who wanted to weigh in. I was blessed that Fomite welcomed input. Many times, writers are not given a say.
Sharing my book cover online was among the first outreaches I made, and it was celebratory. But it was also still marketing — it gave people the image that became my visual brand. Also, it allowed for feedback. If everyone had disliked it, I would have told Fomite (luckily, that wasn’t the case).
After that, Rick and I needed to consider our marketing plan. The marketing plan outlines all the efforts to be made on behalf of a book. I wondered if this part would be different because the book was mine; I thought it would be hard to market my own book, that it would be awkward to help develop a marketing plan discussing…myself.
If you like Caitlin’s take on the book biz, be sure to read her Truth Teller Spotlight — wherein she ponders the nature of truth and the process of producing those 10 stories, that 1 book, in 25 years.
Before the book, Caitlin’s work appeared in journals across the country, including Puerto del Sol, Beloit Fiction Journal, Wisconsin Review, Mud Season Review, Hypertext Magazine, South85 Journal, and Long Story, Short.
As she worked her way through “ten stories, one book, and twenty-five years,” she got advice from her colleagues in the MFA program at Colorado State University and even (at the very beginning) from Paula Danziger, the ideal mentor for a budding eleven-year-old writer.
True stories. Honestly.