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Dear Thursday: GET KNOWN BEFORE THE BOOK DEAL [Book 6 of 2010]

I’ve been reviewing mostly fiction up to now, but as I mentioned last week, I’ve become very interested in fully learning the art of promotion before 32 CANDLES hits bookshelves. And sense I’m a page-to-life learner, I’ve been reading a lot of books on the subject. Here are my thoughts on the latest self-help-for-self-promotion book: GET KNOWN BEFORE THE BOOK DEAL by Christina Katz.

get-known-coverWhy I Decided To Read It: Like I said last week, I’m completely gung-ho about getting out there and promoting 32 CANDLES, I’m just not sure how to go about it.

What’s It About: Building your platform, so that you can more easily get a fiction or non-fiction book deal.

What Makes It Different: Unlike a lot of the other self-promotion books that I read, GET KNOWN is both comprehensive and engaging. Usually it’s either/or with these books.

What I Loved: This is basically the self-promotion bible I’ve been waiting for. There were so many good ideas in here that I had never considered before. Ms. Katz is a straight-shooter and her writing style is both compelling and engaging. It felt less like a read and more like a conversation with a professional. I kept on having to put down the book and make notes, I got so inspired. Also, if you don’t have a platform, she helps you figure out how to get one. I absolutely think that every MFA student should get this upon graduation. Yes, seriously!

What I Didn’t Like: You know how they say, “Don’t judge a book by its cover”? I think they should change that into a piece of advice for authors: “Readers do judge a book by its cover. They just can’t help it.” I’ll admit that I order six books on the subject of book promotion, and I read this one dead last, because the cover was so unappealing. In fact the only reason I read it when I did was because I had accidentally ordered two copies of the book from Amazon and I was planning to send a care package of American food to Gudrun, our FaN expat. She’s just written a fantastic YA novel, so I was going to include the extra copy, but first I had to read it to make sure it was good, which it was. My point is the content was fantastic, but the blah green, maroon and grey cover — not so hot. I kept thinking that this Ariel Gore cover should have been on this book — by the way, Gore’s book is worth a read, too, but it’s not nearly as comprehensive.

On another note, Ms. Katz slams oversharing in a way that seems a little lazy. There are plenty of oversharers who have landed fantastic deals, and I still believe that if you have a talent for being raw and forthcoming that you should use that talent as opposed to censoring it for fear of offending the sensibilities of people like Ms. Katz, who don’t care for oversharing. Complaints like that these have actually become a huge pet peeve of mine because I hear it so often from those in the media, and it’s an argument of personal taste as opposed to IRL results. Also, does it matter if others share what you would keep secret?

Writing Lessons Learned:

Write yourself as expert. Ms. Katz didn’t just give information. Many of her points were introduced with sentences like, “When I was teaching my students this” or “When I was lecturing about that.” It made me realize that context is just as important as the advice itself. By taking the trouble to paint a setting of her actually being an expert in an expert arena as opposed to just delivering a list of her expert advice, I really came to trust that what she was saying was true.

Start promoting yourself now. Writing a novel is a long process, and a lot of people don’t believe that they can start promoting themselves until they have a well-written book under their belt. So not true. If you are writing a book or even thinking about writing a book, start reading this now, because there are a ton of things that you could be doing to get your name out there. In fact I’m bummed that I didn’t pick up this book sooner.

Promotion as procrastination and/or supplementation. So every so once in a while, I finish the day’s pages and read all of my writing exchange partner’s stuff with time to spare in my daily three hour writing session. Before this book I used the extra time to surf the web. But now, I try to implement one of the lessons from this book and get the pre-order word out about 32 CANDLES. On the other hand, promotion is also a fantastic way to procrastinate. Not only does it put off writing for a little bit, but it’s also productive and in the end, inspiring. I actually feel a little more pumped to write after I’ve hit my promotion goals for the day.

To Whom Would I Recommend This Book: Writers, Artists, Pundits, Teachers, Small Business Owners, Anyone Who Has Anything They Want to Promote

TEN PEOPLE (or COUPLES) WHO WANT TO READ THIS YESTERDAY: Gudrun C-D, Marilyn F, Halie R, Amy R, Jeff R, Monique & Brian V, Lyn G, Missy K and Raoul C, Roya H, Kelly L, Aaron H (just to see how many things you’re already doing right!).

Click on the cover pic to buy the book.