Has it really been nearly a year since the last time I wrote about Isobella Jade, the model who wrote a memoir at the Apple Store? I got an email from her last week; apparently, after self-publishing the book through Amazon.com‘s BookSurge program, she secured a book deal in the United Kingdom with The Friday Project, a formerly indie British press which partnered with HarperCollins earlier this year—Jade says we should look for Almost 5’4″ in the first half of 2009.
Jade also sent some advice she’d written up about “how to pitch your book when you’re broke,” and since it seems to have worked, we should take a look.
Use the free tools of Web 2.0: “Whether your book is about pregnancy, porn, or plastic surgery mistakes, the writing you do does not end with just your book and your Word document. To get buzz on yourself you have to promote you and your opinion, and blogging can be a good way to do this.” Jade also makes guest appearances on other blogs, along with vlogs and podcasts, and says tactics like these can help convince agents and publishers that you’re capable of being an active participant in the marketing of your book.
So far, so good, as long as you’re not too blatant about it—and Jade acknowledges that the key to online promotion is to be “discreet but clear.” Or, as I’ve put it previously, the point of blogging and other online strategies isn’t to tell people you have a book out, but to let them know you’re “an interesting person who has something to say about the human condition worth paying attention to.” OK—what comes next?
Read the news to be in the news: “I read the news to find reporters who write about topics that are similar to my book topic and me. By looking for media opportunities to be quoted in news stories or to get your opinion out there, you will be making yourself credible to book agents and publishers.” Just don’t waste anybody’s time or push too hard for an interview—when you approach the media, “mention your book, blog, and your expertise” in a concise message and then let the reporter figure out that you’re worth talking to.
Write your own press release: “If you donâ€™t know how to write about yourself and what you book is about, then you should practice… Knowing how you and you book can relate to a certain topic is important for pitching the press and getting buzz.” Yep. A publicist, when you can afford one, can be of great help here, but only if you know how to spread your own message and use the opportunities he or she lays out for you. And if you don’t have a publicist, then it’s all down to you.
Self-publishing isnâ€™t the end-all:“Your self-promotion can lead to bigger things and more opportunity… You will be more likely to be picked up by a publisher or agent, even after you self publish, if you can show that your book is marketable.” It’s true—just ask Brunonia Barry, or Maryann McFadden.
I’d add, though, that even if you don’t get another publisher to invest in your book, you may still succeed independently by putting in the work to support your vision and not quitting when the going gets hard. Late last year, I asked authors: “Is your message so important that you’d be willing to give over a huge chunk of your life to getting it out? And if you can’t say ‘yes,’ then why should you expect anybody else to care about your book either?”
It looks like we can welcome Isobella Jade to the ranks of those writers who believed in themselves so fiercely that they attracted the faith of others as well. I’ll be the first to admit that I haven’t always taken her story seriously; I’d also like to be the first to admit that I was wrong.