Publicity and the Single Writer

Caveat: This author is married, and loving it, but the title sounded cooler as it is written.


Recently, several writers have been talking about the uses of the internet for publicity.

Note Sarah Prineas here.

And Sarah Prineas here.

And Cat Valente here.

What can I say? They’re both right.

And here’s why.

A few months back, well-known Writer A and I were having coffee at Caribou and talking about this and that. Well-known Writer A played down her feeble publicity skills and said that her friend Well-known Writer B had told her that when every book came out, Well-known Writer A should be sending out press notices. Well-known Writer B did not feel that Well-known Writer A was putting herself out there enough. Well-known Writer A was left to felt that not doing so was kind of lame.

I suggested that Well-known Writer B’s style might not be Well-know Writer A’s style, and that’s okay. There are many ways to skin a cat, even if that cat is publicity.


I’ve recently had a book come out. If you’ve been following this blog, you know about it. One of the things I would like to do, and hope to do is run a contest and give away some of these books. However, being the full-time professor that I am, I haven’t had the time to put together that contest or go shopping for it. I also haven’t had the time to put together all sorts of wonderful school visits.

What have I had the time to do? Well, I write. If I have to shuffle through my priorities, I have to say that if my time is limited, I have to write new books first. There’s nothing to talk about if there isn’t books. Clearly, I’m firmly in the camp that you should write more, rather than publicize the heck out of what you’ve got. In an ideal world (the world where I have more staff, and they don’t work for me during my day job), I would do both. But, right now I choose to focus on the next book(s).

And I choose to blog. For those remaining few of you who go way back, and are still reading one or the other of my journals, you know that I’ve been doing this for 7 years. I LIKE to write in my journal. It comes naturally to me, and is something I look forward to. Like Sarah, I try to engage in conversations, rather than push my work to the forefront of your brain, constantly.

I am a great believer in the Jim Hines’ philosophy of not being “that guy.” I want to talk to fellow writers and readers, and create a sense of community. I am not very good at being salesman slick.

Another thing I do, quite organically, is go to conventions. I used to go to conventions primarily to dress up and be a fan. Now I go for other reasons as well, but I enjoy conventions, I enjoy reading at them, and I enjoy meeting people. If I happen to be going to a convention, I have no problem doing something to help, or reading my work. And I like to dress up, and I see that increasing numbers of authors are using that historical costume vibe to help with their material. That’s cool, and food for thought during the Klarion years.

And of course, anything that academically ties into my work is easy for me to do. The college had me record a video about the Hulk Hercules writing experience. All of the Endowed Chairs from the last 4 years at the school did it, so we can show the people who donate to the Foundation where their monies went. Sure, I’ll be happy to use that to talk about the book, although I don’t think most middle-graders are gonna be rushing over to that link!


Please note: these are not things you should do if they make you feel uncomfortable. I do the things that are easy for me to do, and I prioritize the things that I think are more important to my writing career. I doubt that I will ever be one of those people who think that I can schmooze you into buying a book, and I doubt I will ever be one of these people who spends all her time organizing contests rather than writing, given the time resource that I have.

The take home message for Well-known Writer A is that she should do what she feels comfortable doing. Clearly, writing good books has gotten her pretty far so far. As with everything else in writing, there is no rule for publicity and promoting yourself.

My advice: be yourself, and do the kinds of promotion that your self would naturally do. Oh, and get some staff.


Author: Catherine Schaff-Stump

Catherine Schaff-Stump writes fiction for children and young adults. Her most recent book, The Vessel of Ra, is the first book in the Klaereon Scroll series. She is currently working on its sequel, as well as penning the middle grade adventures of Abigail Rath, monster hunter.

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