To Boldly Go: 5 lessons on book promotion

Posted by Jennifer Hatt on 6 February 2015 | 19 Comments

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My love of Star Trek is not pure escape any more. It has taught me about the great unknown that is book marketing. For example:

1. Look big, especially if you're small
 Think of wee Clint Howard's character in The Corbomite Manoeuvre. For those of you who haven't had the pelasure, the Enterprise crew face destruction from a stern, imposing alien. Meeting face-to-face, the crew discover a tiny childlike creature who only wanted some company, using a giant puppet to appear more fearsome. It certainly got their attention.
For authors and publishers promotiong books, our 'imposing alien' is a professional storefront: engaging and efficient website, impressive social media presence, professionally designed and produced print materials, consistent and relevant blog posts ... you get the idea. Today's technology and range of services means our imposing appearance is limited only by our imagination and courage.

2. There is no such thing as no-win
This lesson is courtesy of James T. Kirk and the Kobayashi Maru. To recap, the Kobayashi Maru was a training simulation mandatory for all Starfleet command cadets, programmed to be 'no-win' to gauge their ability to handle inevitable destruction. Kirk was the only cadet to 'beat' the simulation. He tampered with the simulation computer program, offering up as his defence the simple statement: "I don't believe in no-win scenarios." 
In the fierce, sometimes all-consuming world of book promotion, we need to be reminded that there is no such thing as no-win. If something looks dire, reprogram the parameters. 

3. The Prime Directive is sacred, except when it isn't.
The Prime Directive is the strict Starfleet regulation of non-interference with the evolution of other cultures, a regulation to be upheld at all cost. However, episodes abound in which the Prime Directive is broken, bent, or shaved just a little, because the greater good depended upon it. In other words, sometimes rules are guidelines, or need to be broken altogether. Instinct and circumstance are truly what count. 

4. Beware the colour green.
In the Star Trek universe, the green-skinned women are nothing but trouble, the green disrupter fire is deadly and green on your Vulcan officer's tunic means he is bleeding to death. In the universe of book writing and selling, green emerges in the form of jealousy, and that is one monster that needs to be transported off your ship or at least caged where it can do no harm. Being bitter over authors selling more or getting better reviews will set you on your arse faster than a phaser set on stun. 

5. Boldly go where no one has gone before.
That mantra has sustained generations of television franchises, movies, books, and fans. Even if you have never heard of Star Trek or have little desire to engage in the fandom, that's what your book does, too: Boldly Go Where No One Has Gone Before. Your voice is unique. So is your story. That's why you wrote it. Don't stop now.

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