Users Manual

(excerpt from Your A Game by Damon Suede & Heidi Cullinan)

Most of what people think of as fiction is genre fiction: popular, plot-driven literature written to meet audience expectations for a type of story. Mystery, sci-fi, fantasy, romance, crime novels, horror, gothics—any narrative where authors and readers agree to dance around a particular imaginative flagpole in a specific sort of tent with a certain set of costumes counts as genre fiction.

This book happened because of the following beliefs:

  • Every author has a unique A game only they can play (because it’s your A game).
  • Professional publishing has rules and obstacles that demand a winning strategy to beat the odds (because it’s your A game).
  • Promo must be fun and interactive, or it won’t happen (because it’s your A game).

With a subject this broad, we’re going to cover a lot of terrain, so we’ll start our journey with a board’s-eye view of what’s ahead.

First we’re going to glance over the philosophy that built Your A Game and the ways promo varies given different author goals and tactics. Following this introduction, the book is divided into four sections on the components of a successful promo strategy:

  • BRAND: defining what is remarkable about you and your work
  • PRESENCE: embodying your brand in public for best results
  • MARKET: extending your presence to reach your ideal audience
  • PROJECT: releasing work to your market that sells itself and expands your brand

In addition to these sections, at the back of the book we include several appendices: terms, checklists, recommended reading, and additional resources.

Some parts of the book go into comprehensive detail about business, technology, history, or theory in ways that explain/support/expand upon our suggestions. If the nitty-gritty bores you, feel free to skip those. You may find them more illuminating on revisit or when your promo adventures make you more curious about the crazy logic of the industry.

We’ve done our best to facilitate whatever kind of skipping around, shaving off, or doubling down works for you. We designed this book to allow fast-forwards, detours, and U-turns. We’ll give some specific paths to consider for your journeys, but feel free to make your own way. Take what works for you and use it to find the answers and advice you need at this moment in your career.

Additionally, throughout the book you’ll find advice that has saved our bacon time and again in the form of Boosts, Traps, and Level Ups:

  • BOOST: advanced, play-tested A-game insight, fact, or strategy that will save you time/energy/resources.
  • TRAP: obstacles, caveats, danger zones, and misconceptions that a savvy A-gamer learns to avoid for sanity and safety.
  • LEVEL UP: razzle-dazzle career flourishes that require extra effort, but may score bonus points in unexpected ways.

In the game of promoting genre fiction to a large audience, there’s more than one way to play. In fact, there are infinite ways to play. No two games or players are the same. There are no recipes, no shortcuts, no cookie-cutter solutions or pithy sound bites that will grant you the success you want…just you, your unique talents, and your A game.

We hope this book will help you see book promo through fresh eyes. Our wish is that it brings out the best in you and inspires ingenuity, diligence, and passion, winning you trophies that won’t fit on any mantel. Most of all, we ask you to remember what we consider this book’s most sacred truth: the only requirement for your A game is participation.

You can’t win if you don’t play.

A game is a system in which players engage in an artificial conflict, defined by rules, that results in a quantifiable outcome. — Katie Salen Tekinbas & Eric Zimmerman, Rules of Play: Game Design Fundamentals

© 2016 Damon Suede & Heidi Cullinan, All Rights Reserved

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