I am behind on publicity for The Magic Mirror and the Seventh Dwarf. My day job had a major software release this past weekend, and I have been mired in it from the start of the year until Sunday. So last night I picked up on my publicity efforts from where I left off in January, emailing bloggers and offering review copies, brainstorming giveaway ideas, and writing blog posts.

Publicity is an author’s duty and privilege. Dang, that sounds so pompous. But it really is true. Why is it a duty? Because many authors are, like me, somewhat reticent. We are shy by nature, which is why we have our heads down, tapping out books. The idea of blasting our name and titles out to the world smacks us of narcissism. And when we fail, it looks slightly pathetic, touting a product that no one wants.

However, if we succeed in striking a chord with the public, the rewards are great. When something goes viral on the internet, you would not believe the numbers involved. Suddenly, tens of thousands–sometimes hundreds of thousands–of people are talking about you, and that results in sales, even when the talk is negative. You know the old saying, any publicity is good publicity. And it is almost always true.

Even better is when word-of-mouth gets going. It is like an old steam-powered engine–huge, leaky, and prone to break-down. But once it gets going it can pull trains up mountains. It produces steadier and longer-lasting success than going viral, and is, to use a cliche, the author’s holy grail.

But even if you don’t succeed in either of the above, the steady and persistent works as well. Building a following sometimes takes time, and as long as those numbers keep going up, your efforts are the type of success known as a slow build. (That reminds me. I have not checked my web stats in, like, forever. I should do that.)

So you see, the duty and privilege of publicity goes together, like ink and paper.

I’ve known a few authors who do not do much publicity. Sometimes, as it did with me, life intrudes and delays an author’s publicity efforts. But other times, the author just does not want to, and therefore does not. Such authors, in my opinion, fail both their publishers and their readers.

Why their readers? I am always somewhat disappointed when I find a new favorite author and subsequently discover that they are aloof. I know they might have good reasons for their aloofness, but when I see other authors make the effort despite great physical disability, I know I have no excuse. One such author is a disabled veteran who lives in constant pain. Yet when you visit his site (I won’t link or identify because I don’t want to ambush him this way) his blog is updated and he keeps the books cranking out.

Of all the professions that depend on attracting fans, the profession of author requires the least personal commitment. Actors must put themselves out there physically, as must singers, musicians, dancers and comedians. Even artists must get out there with their work and do gallery showings or art shows.

But an author can stay behind their keyboards, saying to themselves that the best publicity is more books. And that is undoubtedly true. But it should not be the only publicity. Otherwise, you risk alienating your fans. Even aloof actors only become that way once they have achieved their success. A beginning novelist–unpublished or not–cannot afford to be aloof.

And I certainly still classify myself as a beginning novelist. So I’d better get cracking. My publicity plan is simple–to spend the next week guest-blogging, and then to do a guest blog post once a week for several months. So you will see more publicity posts here for a while. I will try to make them interesting and fun.

In exchange, I would really appreciate any word-of-mouth efforts that you might feel inspired to make on my behalf. It could go something like this:

“Hey, I know this author who you should read. I’ve been following her blog forever and she’s really nice. She’s written this little fairy tale about this little lady named Gretchen ….”

I’m sure you get the idea. Also, if you’d like a handful of bookmarks to pass out for me (who wouldn’t?!) let me know at tia @ tianevitt . com (remove spaces) and I’ll send you some.

As always, thank you for reading.