Whipping Up the Meringue

Making meringue with Lowcountry Live’s Jon Bruce.

A book promo tour has landed me in the green room of ABC4 just outside Charleston, S.C., where I’m waiting for a guest shot on Lowcountry Live.

I’m happy to be here, as are the other guests-in-waiting: an artist, a guy who sells bar crawl tours, a woman from the animal shelter toting a little dog with a big cough, and the guests who kicked off the show, a pair of chefs preparing dessert live on the set.

None of us pays much attention, either to the TV monitor or to one another. We’re focused on why we’re here. Conversation would be distracting. When it’s time for our few minutes on air, we need to be sharp and focused.

Someone notes that the chefs are whipping up a nice meringue, and I think to myself that’s what we’re all doing. Step by step, ingredient-by-ingredient, the chefs are making stiff peaks of tasty meringue and selling their restaurant. We’re mentally rehearsing the lines that will sell our art, tour, novel and cause.

I think for the millionth time about the switch authors must make from creative writing to creative marketing, how some won’t do it because they’re more comfortable behind the computer than in front of the camera.

My takeaway: the same technology that has made it possible for anyone to self-publish has flooded the marketplace with books. At the same time, people have limited discretionary leisure time and dozens of entertainment choices.

You need to be more than a good writer to catch their attention. You need to turn your 400 pages into an irresistible blurb. You need to blog, tweet and post, and you need to get out to book clubs and meet people face to face.

And though it may feel uncomfortable and unnatural, you need to put on a smile, get out of the kitchen and whip up your meringue on TV.

What other tips do you have for writers who hate promotion and marketing?

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