Thursday, September 27, 2012

Post-UB thoughts on self-promotion

I spent a week talking about self-publishing over at UB. The last post was about promotions, which a lot of writers dread. Myself included. Self-promotion isn't easy, but you need to do it.

I dread housework -- but that has to be done, too.

I strongly believe that there is an audience for anything. Any movie, any book, any music album, there's a paying audience out there who will enjoy it. The difficult part is finding them and telling them why your book/movie/album would be enjoyable for them.

Everything about self-promotion ties into either finding your audience, or communicating with them.

And yes, it's a lot of work because there are seven billion people out there and even with all of the internet's gee-whiz social networks, those audiences are hard to find.

And no, it's not easy to communicate why your book is interesting in the small amount of time people will give you before they tune out or are distracted by some shiny thing. There's a dose of luck involved too, which you can't plan for.

They say the first rule of self-promoting is to get out there and be a real person with real interests and real input to give. I'm not so good at that; I read many blogs, each day, and have nothing to add. Move on to the next one. There are many blogs that I simply can't post comments to (I wish I knew why, and yes I've tried to get around it.) There are some online communities that I wander through on occasion, such as Absolute Write. I tweet once or twice a day. I mark books I've read, on Goodreads, but don't have enough opinion to write a review. Pinterest has fallen off my radar for a variety of reasons.

Maybe I'm not a real person with real interests. :)

But my audience is out there somewhere. I know a few things about them: they like stories that move, active characters, authenticity and detail, darkness without being hopeless, and a dash of whimsy.

I just need to find them.

4 comments:

Charity Bradford said...

!! I know you're a real person with interests. Maybe you just need to open a live chat room? ;)

Give it time. That's what I keep reminding myself.

E.J. Wesley said...

I think you've hit on some very good things within this post, L.

One, I think we all need to put the 'mass appeal' of our work into real perspective. I agree with you one-million percent that there's a market for every kind of story out there. However, that market can be very niche.

For instance, if you write paranormal romance right now, there's a good chance your story is going to appeal to a large percentage of the book-buying world. If you write cyborg fantasy with dystopian elements, you'll have to look much harder for that niche. (But it's there, by God. Somewhere there's a forum JUST for those people, I promise.)

Second, we have to understand that social media for an author, if being considered as a tool for promotion, is work. It takes time to master, it's hard to maintain, and it eats hours of our writing time. For many, it's not worth it.

But for those, the expectations for how far their story will go/grow outside of their own immediate circle needs to be tempered. If your goal is to write good stories, put them up, and let whatever happens, happen and hopefully sell a few dozen copies along the way, you don't need to invest the work social media requires. If you want your audience to be greater than your friends, family, and blog readers, then you'll likely have to bite the bullet.

Your suggestion of just being yourself is the key to making the work a little less painful. Yes, you can be play the game, but there's a high degree of burnout involved in that course. This is another instance of keeping perspective, however. If you're truly yourself, you won't grow as fast, or as large, as those who play the game. For one, it takes a lot longer to write a 4 paragraph (etc.) reply to a post that you actually have thoughts about then it does to type "lol, thanks for the fun post".

My writing this response this AM means I've missed out on going to 4-5 other blogs. But I'm OK with that, because I enjoyed what you had to say, and thought I could contribute to the discussion. :-)



Liz said...

Ah yes, where does one find the community that will love your work? I guess you have to find the social networking that works for you.

L. Blankenship said...

@EJ -- I am consistently amazed by HOW MUCH TIME it eats up. Where do people get this time? Do they sleep at all?

I'm thinking that for me, the answer is to be honest to myself and go at the slow pace that is normal for me. And I have to trust in the quality of my writing along the way. Despite all the kerfuffle about gaming the system to get your name out there, I still believe that cream will rise to the top.

Now, whether I'm cream or not is a completely different question... :D

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