Tag Archives: book promotion

Immortality or Promotion

Over the past couple years I have collected what would probably be a ream or so, were the collection on paper, of advice about business promotion in general and book promotion in particular. Since I’m an avid collector but not such an avid reader of how-to stuff, I have yet to read most of my collection. But now and then, usually with a sigh or grimace, I plunge into business mode.

During one of those plunges, a piece of advice struck me as real wisdom. Which may only mean I found it easy to swallow, like health advice that praises dark chocolate, red wine, and coffee. Either way, what I appreciated was a reminder that we can’t do it all and the assurance our best course was to concentrate on the kind of promotion we either enjoy or at least find somewhat palatable.

With that wisdom in the back of my mind, I later came upon this gem: rather than attempt to promote our books, we should work on building our legacy.

One reason I find this notion appealing is, before we can build our legacy, we need to decide what we want it to be. The notion has led me to some parenting insights and a change or two in behavior. And it has sent me on a quest to define what exactly makes me unique as a writer. And clarifying who or what I am, say the promo gurus, is essential to the success of my book promotion.

My legacy should be something that promotes what I love. Aside from sports, romance, and family, the great passions of my life have been reading, writing, learning, thinking, and teaching. For my legacy to promote the love of reading, learning, and thinking, I can attempt to write books at once fascinating and thoughtful that also contain stuff worth learning about, such as history. And, rather than be egocentric and miserly, I can offer a resource to help people discover other fascinating, thoughtful books they can learn from.

I’ll sign off here and get to work recommending. I have done quite a lot of reviews for magazines and newspapers. But I’ll turn to recommending rather than reviewing. Since a recommendation is akin to a guarantee, should you read one of my recommendations and disagree with my assessment, feel free to send me a bill for what the book cost you. I’m not likely to pay up, but you never know.

I’m at: kenkuhlken.net


I was hanging out with writer friends when someone suggested that the best move we could make was to, at the appropriate time, put aside writing for a few weeks or months and devote ourselves to promotion. Afterward, we could return to writing with more optimism about the fate of our books.

One writer commented: “But promotion isn’t any fun.” When all the others heartily agreed, I found myself wondering, are most of us wedded to this vocation mostly because it’s fun?

If that’s the case, I thought, what if we could make promotion fun? To that question, my rather childish mind responded, “Think about Mary Poppins.” In the Disney film Zoe and I have watched a dozen times. Mary sings, “In every job that must be done, there is an element of fun…. Just a spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down.”

My big daughter Darcy found high school so tedious and irrelevant, she often made a detour somewhere between my car and the classroom and spent her days at a mall or a friend’s house. But, the semesters when she had an art class, she attended art and also her other classes. And in college as an art major, she not only enjoyed the art classes but discovered she appreciated some others.

So what if we could isolate the part of promotion we enjoy and devote serious time to that. Maybe the rest of the medicine would go down easier, and actually get done.

Perhaps each of us finds different parts of the promotion efforts fun. I enjoy tinkering with web sites and watching ideas take concrete form. When I ran a bookstore, I enjoyed stocking the place and organizing the shelves, while I didn’t much care for dealing with customers. Some days I would mutter a line of John Paul Sartre’s: “Hell is other people.”

Not that I don’t care for people. Most of them I either like or love. But they wear me out. I suppose that’s why you won’t find me involved in much tweeting or facebook chit chat. It’s a self defense technique, guarding my energy. But I do like to blog, and to link this to that, which gives me the illusion that I’m in control of something.

And if the day goes well, if I don’t encounter a legion of computer mishaps or run-ins with demanding, manipulative, or ornery people, I may find myself in such an upbeat mood, even tweeting feels fun.

Ken Kuhlken and his books reside at www.kenkuhlken.net