By in Writing

Article Review: "It Takes a Village" by Mary Shafer

Writer’s Digest produces books for writers and aspiring writers without end in sight. Often, these books are collections of articles over a spectrum of a chosen topic with professional writers’ contributions. This is for the format for the current book, Writer’s Digest Guide to Self-Publishing 2015 .

I’d like to offer a brief overview of each article and note on each author over the next several weeks then sum up the entire book.

Writer’s Digest Guide to Self-Publishing 2015 is divided into three main subject areas: 1) Production 2) Management and 3) Promotion. Other sections include author interviews, listings (of professional services to the self-publishing author), resources such as conferences and book fairs, and an index.

The present article, “It Takes a Village,” is in the Promotions section. According to the contributor’s notes, author Mary Shafer was an unknown author whose nonfiction regional title wasn’t even expected to earn back its author advance money but eventually went through three printings and sold 15,000 copies.

Shafer says that as a newbie author in 1993, she knew little about books, but knew something of marketing and treated her book as she would one of her client’s projects. She began promoting locally and took advantage of building buzz.

The plan she recommends now is: 1) plan 2) start local 3) build buzz 4) widen reach 5) be consistent.

Upon reading this, my first reaction is, “Could you be any vaguer ?” But she does get around to giving more specific ideas, i.e., searching for blogs where people with interest in your genre hang out. She also advises against promoting yourself. Her advice is to build relationships. Comment on others’ blogs, be authentic, talk of other things ten times before you mention your book. She also advises building small, not just promoting your book, but in building a resume of sorts, so that when people “search the Web for the author or the book, results return more than just an Amazon listing.”

Overall, I think as vague as this is at points, this article is helpful in the difficult and seemingly unnavigable world of indie book promotion. It gives ideas, points out things that may not have occurred to people and does give specifics. It’s worth the read.


Title: “It Takes a Village”

Author: Mary Shafer

Writer’s Digest Guide to Self-Publishing 2015

Section: Promotion



© 2015 Denise Longrie

Image Credit »

You will need an account to comment - feel free to register or login.


valmnz wrote on April 25, 2015, 5:27 PM

I don't think the points shhe recommends are vague at all. I've self published and know exactly what she means, especially by stating start local. Sometimes it's best to interpret such things in your own way.

msiduri wrote on April 25, 2015, 6:04 PM

I've self-published as well. I know what "start local" means. I didn't contact the AP when my book came out. But start local where? "Build buzz"? What she mean in work incrementally. One understands that by reading the article. Her list is vague.

agvulpes wrote on April 26, 2015, 10:00 AM

I'm not expert but she seems to be saying what about 1 million others before her have said. Nothing fresh ? Long on Rhetoric short on detail perhaps ?

msiduri wrote on April 26, 2015, 8:01 PM

Some details do emerge later. The outline was what made me go "Hmmph!" Step one of your plan is "plan?" Really? Though, to be fair, she does elaborate. Her advice may not be unique, but it is helpful to the complete newbie.

Thanks for your note.

Last Edited: April 27, 2015, 10:58 AM

scheng1 wrote on April 27, 2015, 8:21 AM

She does have a good business mindset. Selling book is a different skill from writing a book.

msiduri wrote on April 27, 2015, 10:59 AM

Oh, yes. Two completely different animals.