I’m not exactly what you might call a “film buff,” but I really and truly love the movies.  And some movies are more noteworthy than others, right?  Some even seem to be noteworthy before I have a chance to see them in theaters.  Case in point: last year’s Oscar nominees for Best Picture.  Whenever I sat down to marathon some streaming video on my iPad, the fifteen-minute ad breaks were the same Brooklyn trailer on repeat.  The local movie theater (and I’m talking small-town movie theater, here) had posters up for The Revenant a full year in advance, and I’m not even sure how they got ahold of those posters!  Articles on low-budget indie faves Room and Spotlight were cropping up everywhere that I get my word fix online–news engines like The New York Times and genre specific conversation forums alike.  The local public library put up a display featuring all of the books that inspired the movies (and this year, most of the Best Picture noms were based on books) long before celebrities lit up the stage in Hollywood to dole out those little gold statues.

I guess what I’m saying is: we all know what anticipation looks like.  It’s the six months (or year) before the Academy Awards.  It’s the year (or two years) before the Presidential Elections.  It’s the half-decade before Patrick Rothfuss or George R.R. Martin each release the next book in their series.  It’s the “buzz” we hear in day-to-day conversations, the flurry of visual displays going up in our public spaces, and the ticket reservations sold out long in advance.

Kingkiller chronicles patrick rothfuss reddit
[ anticipation looks like a Reddit thread about any of these examples! ]
And here’s another thing: self-publishing authors often sell themselves short on anticipation.  It’s almost as if we don’t think we deserve it, that we’ve earned the “buzz.”  Or perhaps, it’s that we’ve internalized the message being preached by many traditional publishers and their ancillary believers–the message that we indie authors are somehow “not good enough,” or that the work we produce is itself somehow “not good enough.”  Which, by the way, is complete and total garbage.  We are good enough.  Our work is good enough.  If it wasn’t, would traditional publisher’s be so eager to poach Andy Weir and Christopher Paolini and others like them out of our ranks?  No.  But there is definitely a corporate benefit to sowing a sense of self-doubt amongst self-publishing professionals.

So here’s the deal:

Building anticipation is a real, tangible, achievable goal.

And there are any number of ways that you can start to generate interest in your books before you publish!  Put together a blog which features short excerpts from the book–amongst other things, of course–and seed your existing social media accounts with excerpts from the book–author Mirtha Michelle Castro Marmol is a great example of a self-publishing author doing just that–and gather interest in a book signing event!  These are not new concepts, but we often approach them as, quite simply, items to check off of our checklists.  As work.  But if you keep in mind that the end result isn’t actually just “SELL MORE BOOKS” but rather, “Hey, this might start a conversation!  This might generate some anticipation!” then your work may end up feeling a lot more like a healthy, sustainable, enjoyable conversation with potential readers and fans.

The decisions you make now to start conversations will build your audience and customer base before your book is even published.  Kelly Schuknecht, one of my fellow writers on Self Publishing Advisor and fellow advocate at Outskirts Press, has often spoken about how we often wait until after a book is published–through Outskirts or Amazon or some other means–to start marketing.  And how this is actually far too late.  The same is true of building anticipation–which kind of makes sense, right?

anticipation clock

Anticipation relies upon the simple fact that the thing we desire is a thing presently out of reach, that is in the works or on its way.  If the thing is already here, people might be interested … but they won’t be anticipating.  So if there is one thing I can recommend to you today, it’s that you get out there and think about suspense, and desire, and anticipation as something worth building.  Think about the Oscars if it helps, or the next season of Orange is the New Black (because let’s face it, you already marathoned the entire fourth season and now you have to wait another year to find out what happens next!), or the next book in that series you really love that isn’t here yet.  That is the feeling you want readers to have about your book–and you can make that a reality!


You are not alone. ♣︎

ElizabethABOUT ELIZABETH JAVOR: With over 18 years of experience in sales and management, Elizabeth Javor works as the Manager of Author Services for Outskirts Press. The Author Services Department is composed of knowledgeable publishing consultants, pre-production specialists, customer service reps and book marketing specialists; together, they all focus on educating authors on the self-publishing process to help them publish the book of their dreams. Whether you are a professional looking to take your career to the next level with platform-driven non-fiction or a novelist seeking fame, fortune, and/or personal fulfillment, Elizabeth Javor can put you on the right path.

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