Recently, I had lunch with one of my teachers from college (more on that later) and one of her compliments to me was, "You've become so good at promotion!"
That took me a bit aback because I've never really thought of myself as good at promotion. I remembered how I struggled with it when Year of the Dog had just been published. Back then I thought promotion was kind of like selling and I was not good at selling.
And I'm still not good at selling. I still don't talk to the person sitting next to me on the airplane, much less tell them about my books. In a strange bookstore (ie not my local hangout) it takes me at least 20 minutes to get up the nerve to ask the bookseller if they'd like me to sign my books (and 7 out of 10 times I usually just don't ask and leave the books unsigned). And when I'm introduced to someone as a children's book author and he/she asks, "Would I know any of your books?" I always say, "Probably not."
However, I do have this blog, facebook page, a newsletter, and a twitter account (that is not really used often but I have it!). I've had contests, created book trailers and try to throw really big book parties. That is pretty promotional!
But, strangely, I really enjoy doing those things. How did that happen?
I realize the difference is the emotion behind the promotion. The things that I do now feel more like sharing and thanking people who enjoy my books. I remember one Christmas realizing how absolutely amazing it is that people read my books and I try to keep that in mind with each reader I interact with.* True or false, in my head & heart, the people who read my books have become my friends even though we don't know each other and may never meet.
And I think that is how I became "good at promotion." Instead of going through the motions of promoting my books, I found true emotion does the job much, much better.
*even though sometimes it takes me a long time to respond! I sometimes let the mail build up, right now I am guiltily looking at a pile that hasn't been touched since April. But I'll get to it, promise!