For an audio version of this post, please click on the speaker icon (top left).
As promised, Cullen Ruff MD, Author of Looking Within: Understanding Ourselves through Human Imaging, returns to finish up the 2 part series on the steps needed to publish and promote a book.
In case you missed part I, you can check it out here.
Imaging is the great equalizer. When we look deep into ourselves from the vantage of this fundamental level, with exterior barriers and labels removed, we just might see ourselves, other people, and our lives in a whole new light.
–Cullen Ruff, from Looking Within: Understanding Ourselves through Human Imaging
The above is one of the first tweets from my book that I know of, posted by a perfect stranger.
XrayVsn has invited me to write this two-part guest blog on publishing.
Last week we covered some basics of the industry, perhaps the most important being that people should first write from desire or purpose, rather than the goal of making money.
Few do profit, particularly when considering the vast amount of time required to produce a finished work.
That said, sales and getting read are part of the goal, so I will share a few insights learned thus far.
I am definitely no expert, and continue to learn along the way, but a few strides have been made, with new doors opening.
Before my first book was published, I only used Facebook occasionally for social reasons.
When a friend in sales advised me to join other media platforms, I balked.
I thought of Twitter as an outlet for vitriol, or for celebrities to sext photos accidentally.
Even LinkedIn seemed unnecessary, as I am quite happy in my job for years, with no interest in looking elsewhere.
My friend countered: “Do you want to sit at home and read this book alone, or do you want other people to read it?”
My former literary agent also warned that publishers often first do an internet search on a potential new author, before reading a single word of the manuscript.
Establishing some presence, following, or platform is strongly recommended.
You do not have to dance on Tik Tok, or sing on YouTube.
Nevertheless, agents and publishers will likely want to learn a bit about you or your work, if you want it published.
You can keep it professional, with steps to safeguard some privacy.
The idea of putting yourself and your words out there may seem daunting, intimidating, even overwhelming—like needing a job to get experience, and needing experience to get a job.
In fact, there are many opportunities for finding an interested audience; but it is generally up to you to do the finding.
Websites, book clubs, writers groups, or larger organizations with classes or webinars may introduce you to people who may be helpful, and also to ideas on what works.
Newspaper op-ed pieces and magazine articles are hard to come by, but a literary or trade journal may give you a shot.
Bloggers and podcasters abound, and they need content.
Find one who might be interested in your topic, and pitch a guest piece.
Some just may oblige.
Regardless of your genre, you can find others who share your interest.
Reach out, connect, and do not be shy.
Let people know that you are writing, and be able to concisely communicate your ideas.
You never know who may refer you to something that eventually leads to a published article, or to an agent or publisher.
Be patient, but persist.
Expect rejections, or no reply at all, and use others’ constructive comments to polish your work for the next pitch.
If this year has taught us anything, it is that the unexpected may occur, and we have to adapt.
Like XrayVsn, I work full time in medicine, so it took me years of writing intermittently on the side to finish a book that just happened to launch right before the pandemic shutdown.
After a great launch party, and one successful bookstore reading in early March, plans for traveling and speaking screeched to a grinding halt.
Still, some sales and good reviews led to an unexpected Amazon Kindle promotion, which put my book into the hands of more readers at a discount, making my e-book an Amazon best-seller in a small niche genre.
I won’t be retiring any earlier from this, but no complaints.
The “don’t be shy” advice applies both pre- and post-publication.
If you have a book out, and someone tells you that they liked it, ask if they would be willing to put a review online.
Maybe they would like to have their book club read it and invite you as a guest.
Keep pitching to do a guest blog article, to be interviewed on a podcast, or to give a virtual event, until live events with book signings return.
Again, I am definitely no expert on social media utilization, but we can all learn.
In addition to connecting to other doctors in my field, connecting to other writers has been my most pleasant surprise.
There is something truly gratifying when a perfect stranger likes, posts, or retweets to help promote your work.
I have enjoyed returning the favor, while also discovering some good books worth reading.
We all have to find our comfort level, and for some of us with social media, that may mean none at all.
Yet if you are inspired to be a writer, even as a side hobby, be prepared.
There is a lot more to writing in the digital age than just the writing itself.
Like inevitable writer’s block, there will be bumps in the road where online presence and marketing are concerned.
Keep it honest and professional, within your comfort level, and do not be afraid to ask others for help.
Good luck, and keep writing—because everybody loves a good story.
Cullen Ruff MD (https://www.cullenruff.com) is a radiologist in private practice; an associate professor at the Virginia Commonwealth University School of Medicine in Fairfax, VA; and author of the Amazon bestseller of Looking Within: Understanding Ourselves through Human Imaging.
If you are in search of financial help, please consider enlisting the service of any of the sponsors of this blog who I feel are part of the “good guys and gals of finance.”
Even a steadfast DIY’er can sometimes gain benefit from the occasional professional input.
NOTE: The website XRAYVSN contains affiliate links and thus receives compensation whenever a purchase through these links is made (at no further cost to you). As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. Although these proceeds help keep this site going they do not have any bearing on the reviews of any products I endorse which are from my own honest experiences. Thank you- XRAYVSN