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Promoting Yourself as a Writer/Author

By: Marcie Hill

On Saturday, August 16, 2014,

Chicago Writers Association (CWA) and its Rockford affiliate, In Print, co-sponsored the 3rd Annual Writers Block Party at the Gail Borden Public Library in Elgin, Illinois.

Five panelists,

Dan Burns, Libby Fischer Hellman, Marcie Hill, Dana Kaye and Mare Swallow shared their experiences and expertise on “Promoting Yourself as a Writer/Author” to nearly 50 writers, published authors and aspiring authors.

Although the goal was to provide promotional tips to writers and authors, the conversation centered mostly around book writing due to the audience’s interests.

About the Panelists

Dan Burns is a teacher and author of three books: “Recalled to Life,” “The First 60 Seconds,” and “No Turning Back.”

Libby Fischer Hellman is a teacher, speaker and author of 11 Chicago based thrillers. She had just launched, “NOBODY’S CHILD”, her eleventh novel and fourth in the hard-boiled PI Georgia Davis series on August 15th.

Marcie Hill is a freelance writer, blogger, speaker and author of “62 Posts to Overcome Blogger’s Block” and “How to Write a Powerful Professional Bio.”

Dana Kaye, founder of Kaye Publicity, is an independent book publicist and frequent speaker on social media, branding and publishing trends.

Mare Swallow is a public speaker, training consultant, essayist and founder of the Chicago Writers Conference.

Promoting Yourself

as a Writer/Author

Tori Collins, the president of CWA, moderated the panel discussion. She had a few general questions for the panelists, as well as a couple of questions directed to specific panelists. This multi-talented leader also took these notes during the presentation which is why this is a comprehensive recap.

1. When is the best time to start promoting yourself as a writer/author?

Always: before, during and after you write the book

Involve yourself with organizations in the literary world. Literary citizenship is being an active member of your literary community

Always think about who your audience will be or is, and surround yourself with those in the community that will support

Read the works of others

Figure out your platform

2. What are the most cost-effective promotional tools you can use?

Promoting yourself is about relationship

Build an email list. e.g. MailChimp

Subscribe to newsletters, i.e. Publishers Lunch, Digital Book World, The Passive Voice, Book Reporter (some paid content- beware)

Word of mouth


Book/writing contests

Build networks through your blog


Always have a social media presence

Join a writers group

Attend as many literary events as possible

Guest post on other people’s blogs

3. What are common mistakes that writers/authors make? What should they not do (this goes to the idea of over-promoting yourself to the point where you start turning people off).

Common Mistakes

Lack of professionalism

Dismissing someone because you don’t know them or because you don’t think they can help you (judging book by cover)

Arrogance, entitlement, not being helpful to others within the community


Ignoring the business of writing and being an author

Having no online presence

Not engaging with the community

4. For Dana Kaye: What can a publicist offer that an author can’t do on his/her own? When should a writer/author use a publicist? How can a writer/author afford a publicist?

A publicist offers time, reach, connections and more media exposure

A publicist should be used when you can afford the services. Rates vary

Budgets determine what

A writer and author will afford what their budgets allow

5. For Mare Swallow: Why should writers/authors attend writers conferences?

Conferences offer education, relationships, and opportunities for partnerships

The Chicago Writers Conference will be held October 24 – 26, 2014 at the University Center located on 525 S. State St. in Chicago. Also, it’s held annually; visit the site to sign up for updates.

Did you attend the Writers Block Party? Which promotional tips were helpful to you? Do you have any tips to share with others?

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