In Your Corner : Building Anticipation Like a Pro (or maybe like Patrick Rothfuss?)

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.

News From the Self-Publishing World: 10/26/15

This week in the world of self-publishing:

This has been a huge week for self-publishing, in that there doesn’t seem to be a large media outlet left untouched.  Take this October 23rd article in Publishers Weekly, for example, in which contributor Alex Palmer demystifies a few tried-and-true self-marketing methods.  Why is this such a big deal?  For starters, when an industry giant like PW dedicates significant page-space to a (for lack of a better term) “self-help” piece specific to self-publishing authors … well, this is a tacit acknowledgement that there are enough self-publishing authors out there to make them a significant reading bloc that PW is clearly willing to go to great lengths to woo.  Ten years ago, or even five, PW would have been far more likely to publish “discovery” pieces aimed at readers (past, present, or future) of self-published books and traditional publishing experts, rather than self-publishing authors themselves.  So this is exciting.  And the tips Palmer lists (like: “call ahead to make an appointment with the librarian or bookstore owner rather than just appearing unannounced” and “build […] ties to communities long before books come out so [authors and librarians or booksellers] won’t be strangers when the time comes to ask for arranging author events and distribution”) pack a punch and are backed up with useful insights from a variety of experts.  This has to be one of the best (and most interesting) assistive pieces I’ve read this year.

Talk about making serious press with serious media outlets; this week in The Bookseller‘s “FutureBook” section, contributor Porter Anderson walks us through a variety of self-publishing related news items (some of them in the lead-up to a #FutureChat Twitter event on Oct 23), but far and away the most interesting (I find) is his commentary on the divisions and contentions that exist between the different players in publishing today, and between traditional publishers and the self-publishing author.  He asks the question: “Is independent publishing ‘the contrary’ of the Trade?” by which he means, “Do we really have to frame every conversation about self-publishing and traditional publishing as a case of binary opposites?”  (My wording on that one.)  This is partially in response to some comments made by Hachette Livre’s Arnaud Nourry at the recent Frankfurt Bookfair (in which he described self-publishing as “the contrary of my business. We look at books and decide what we do and do not want to invest in”).  Anderson comes to no conclusions, leaving the field open to conversation in the “FutureBook’s” #FutureChat and at the upcoming Author Day conference on November 30th in London.

You thought it couldn’t get any bigger, didn’t you?  Well, it did.  And by “it,” I mean “self-publishing authors making a big splash in major headlines this week.”  Take this October 20th article for People Magazine‘s online edition by contributor Drew Mackie, in which we are presented with exactly what the title promises: seven movies that have their roots in the self-publishing book industry.  The Martian has gotten plenty of press lately, and Still Alice made the rounds and raked in a whole bunch of awards as both a book club favorite and an indie film darling, but some of the other titles might surprise you: Legally Blonde, for example.  Who knew?  Not me.  And I certainly am excited to hear that Hugh Howey’s Wool has FINALLY been moved out of “Development Hell” and into pre-production.  Mackie quotes Howey as saying, “Traditional publishing is much too restrictive. I don’t want to pump out the same book over and over. I want to challenge myself and produce the work that I feel is missing from the marketplace.”  And that, dear readers, is exactly the kind of rip-roaring rallying cry we all need to hear once in a while!

This one goes out to those of you from across the Pond––no, the other pond.  Australian media supergiant Yahoo7 highlighted the accomplishments of a self-publishing Aussie in a detailed October 21st article by contributor Sophie Smith.  Beau Taplin, a native Melbournian, has been making waves not just in the self-publishing industry Down Under, but among celebrities the world over.  He counts Kim Kardashian, Jessica Stam, Sophia Bush, Bindi Irwin, and Lauren Phillips among his many readers, but far and away he can credit his social media prowess with garnering him a wide readership.  Writes Smith, “Mr Taplin is making a living from the full-time occupation [of writing] despite choosing not to refer his work, which has attracted 281,000 followers on Instagram, 16.3K on Twitter and 10,000 on Facebook, to a commercial publisher.”  Taplin, who self-professes to “lean toward the shy end of the spectrum,” sees the novel as falling naturally in line with the traditional publishing model––but he wanted to do something different.  His book, Buried Light, comprises only 100 pages of prose, but it has rapidly eclipsed Taplin’s previous two books in sales.  Of finding his voice through self-publishing, Taplin has much to say: “I was lost before this.”  You can read more about his book at the link.

As a self-publishing author, you may find it helpful to stay up-to-date on the trends and news related to the self-publishing industry.This will help you make informed decisions before, during and after the self-publishing process, which will lead to a greater self-publishing experience. To help you stay current on self-publishing topics, simply visit our blog every Monday to find out the hottest news. If you have other big news to share, please comment below.

KellyABOUT KELLY SCHUKNECHT: Kelly Schuknecht is the Executive Vice President of Outskirts Press. In addition to her contributions to the Outskirts Press blog at, Kelly and a group of talented marketing experts offer book marketing services, support, and products to not only published Outskirts Press authors, but to all authors and professionals who are interested in marketing their books and/or careers. Learn more about Kelly on her blog,