Time for some more advice to those thinking about writing a book, inspired by Robert Rodriguez's "ten minute film school" featurettes.
Yesterday I found out that I saved quite a bit of money by not hiring a publicist to promote Post. How much? Well, based on what my publisher quoted, it would have been equivalent of buying two 42-inch flat-screen TVs or a quarter of the price to buy a brand new car. Now, I'm well aware that many other publicists charge far, far less, but a general rule of thumb became abundantly clear: use your own contacts and go from there.
Long before the book came out, I envisioned giving the book out to people who would want to read it right away. I knew I couldn't afford to give away a lot of copies, so I had to really narrow my list down. I was fortunate enough (and quite flattered) to have a number of people buy a copy right as it came out, so that helped narrow the list down even more.
My prevailing hope with sending out these copies was that, above all else, the people would read the book. Make no mistake, press is nice, but it sure means a hell of a lot more to me when somebody actually reads my book and responds to it (good, bad, and everything in between). If people tell more people about the book because they genuinely like the book, I believe you're doing just fine. The reason why? Nothing kills something crappy faster than great advertising.
Also, when you're sending out notifications, keep in mind who you're sending these out to. If you can personalize your messages, even better. Why I say this is because I'm someone who receives e-mails almost everyday from publicists, band members, and record label owners. Because I do a blog, I'm in a position where I can give some attention to something. Not a huge amount of attention, but some. But, given the nature of what I choose to cover on this blog, I often wonder if these people actually read my blog. I rarely talk about new bands, post MP3s, or video clips. So why are they sending me poop about some new remix or a band doing an East Coast tour? Because I blog, that's the small price I pay. But it's not a horrible thing because I usually just delete those e-mails.
Maybe this whole attitude comes from being in a band that worked tirelessly to promote themselves, I don't really know. All I know is, if you take your work seriously and don't treat your potential audience as a herd of wandering sheep, you can find success in promoting yourself by yourself.