Wednesday, August 16, 2006

PR for the Unpublished Writer

We started this blog thinking we could do an official Question of the Month, answering readers' questions. But we get so many great questions that one a month doesn’t seem like enough. Instead we’re going to dissolve that idea entirely and simply try to answer reader questions whenever we get a chance. To have your question considered, please feel free to ask it in the comments section below and we’ll get to it as soon as possible.

In an earlier post you mentioned PR for published authors. How important do you think PR is for the unpubbed writer? Specifically, do you think there’s value in having a Web site or a blog before you’re published? Have you ever taken on a client because of something you read on their Web site or blog? Have any of the editors you submit to ever mentioned that a Web site or blog has influenced their buy decision?

In all honesty, I don’t think PR is necessary at all for the unpubbed fiction writer. A Web site or blog is great if you build an audience who will later buy your published works, but if you’re unpublished there’s not much there for us to really care or worry about. If an author has a Web site I’ll sometimes go just to check it out, and if she’s clearly active with her writing—contests, e-books, reviews—that might help sway me. But all of that information should be in the letter anyway.

The only thing that’s going to convince an editor or agent to make an offer is the writing itself (and the story, of course).

Now for non-narrative nonfiction it’s a different ball game. Selling your book is going to be based at least 60 percent on who you are. Therefore, having a successful and active Web site can make a huge difference.


—Jessica

4 comments:

jolinn said...

I'd been wondering about that too. I mean the whole "branding" argument is going hot and heavy, and then you have people who say you have to have a blog, or you have to have this or that. I mean, if you don't have anything to brag on, what's the point?

Kirsten said...

I don't have any illusions that my blog will ever translate into book sales for my hoped-for future novel (although I've sold a few copies of my nonfiction book from an Amazon link I've got in my sidebar) but I will say that blogging makes me feel like a professional writer. I feel like I'm part of the conversation about books and writing. I've met other writers in every stage of their careers, from people who haven't even begun to query yet, to people who, like me, are in the midst of querying, to people who are enjoying the flush of their debut novel, to established, successful novelists. I love it, and I couldn't put a value to what it does for my morale and my identity as a writer. It's well, well worth the time it takes.

Kathleen I. Paterka said...

Thank you for confirming something that I've thought for a long time. What's the point in spending the time and $$$ to build a web site if you're an unpublished author? Who's going to be reading it, besides your family and friends? I've always thought it made more sense to wait until you've finally got that fiction book on the shelves and a marketing list that can be updated from hits on your web site.

And so I choose to wait. Some day, my own web site. But not at the moment.

Thanks again for helping me feel I've made the right decision.

-Kathleen Paterka

jolinn said...

I have a blog...*sigh* I think I use it as my "entry" to the greater world of blogging so I can have a user-name. My CP insisted on it. He said everyone had a blog, and what was up with me? I journal in it once a month, sometimes twice. I belong to a couple of forums and RWA's loops, but I've noticed that they take away from my writing time. The more I vent on my blog, the less I use in my WIP. Every minute is a precious gift. There are only so many in a day.
But I did notice that the people who say you must do this or must do that, tend to be the same people who tell you that they'll be published...one day. I want it now, I want it soon. And I've got to get off this blog and go write. :)