Self Promotion?

So, this was my last post on my about to be deleted site. I thought I’d repost here because I think marketing and self promotion are important for any author, and should begin before you get that contract.

We Canadians are a humble bunch, or so I’ve heard. The idea of promoting ourselves, tooting our own horn and such, is just cringeworthy. That’s probably why sometimes I feel like an immigrant. I don’t cringe at that, I love it. “Talk about myself? Well since you asked…”

So I thought I’d explore this world that authors, by nature considered to be a private, lonesome bunch, are forced into when trying to publish. I think that’s just silliness. You’ve slaved for hours to create a wonderful tale, ruined your eyes editing that manuscript line by line, killing all your darlings and you’ve finally got something worth showing. And we have to force you to promote it? Please. Come on, tell everyone about it.

A friend, and fellow Canadian author, Susan Curnow, got me thinking when she posted a discussion on her page here: The House of Faegrim
Nowadays, authors can’t rely on just good writing to sell their book. Oh, it may sell eventually, but first it must be published. Publishers want authors to market and promote long before the book sees store shelves, long before they sign the dotted line in fact. They want to see that the author can actually do it, not just promise to do it. They want to see a platform. So, how do you build a ‘platform’ or a fanbase before you’ve even published a book? Well, it’s really simple actually.

(author’s note: all of those adverbs are very bad, I save them for blog posts and letters to exercise the overwhelming urge to use them. I try to keep them out of my work, but sometimes, the little buggers slip past despite my best efforts. You’d be wise to avoid them at all costs.)

The internet has made it possible for even the shyest of writers to promote their work, and themselves. Sites like Facebook, Myspace, Scribd, Goodreads, and Twitter all help to showcase and promote the author and their ‘personality’. Blogs and websites, (many free) also help to build your presence and marketablility.

“But I don’t want to be one of those twits who tweet every hour telling people about every single thing I do in a day. No one wants to know that stuff.” You say. (and stop whining, it’s really unattractive.) You don’t have to tweet every hour, my god I hate people who do that. But Twitter can be a very useful marketing tool to bring traffic to your blog, your writing, or to promote events such as book signings, if you should be so lucky as to have a book to sign. Tweeting doesn’t generate huge sales, but it does promote the author.

You post your writing on Scribd, but darn it, no one is reading it. So share with Twitter, and bang, twenty reads in an hour. Holy shit, you’ve got it. Now on to Facebook and Myspace, Stumbleupon, etc.

You think that perhaps these social networking sites are too invasive, too personal, you don’t want the world knowing your personal life. You silly thing, they don’t have to if you don’t want them to. You can have a private page for the personal you, and a public page for the author you. Personally, if someone cares enough about what I’m doing to search all over the internet for little tidbits, they’re welcome to them. I am the TMI queen, so watch out. You may find stuff you wish you never knew. But I’m not a private person really. I’ll be that one serving paparazzi coffee and donuts and offering chairs out on my front lawn while I cut the grass in my pj’s. No, I’m not vain, but please guys, make sure you photoshop and get my good side.

I’m being silly, basically these sites allow people to know a bit more about you, and help showcase the person you want the world to see as well as your work. You control what the world sees, so just be conscious of that when you’re building your page. What do you want people to know? Simple really.

“Well shit,” you say (jeesh, whining again?) “I work, and I have a family, I don’t have the time to spend ‘networking’ I have to scrounge the time to write.” Are you going to say that to a potential publisher or agent? Because I can guarantee that they don’t care. Either you market, or you don’t publish that beautiful prose you’ve slaved over for months, years even. It’s not as bad as it seems. No more than an hour each day. (less if you’re the efficient sort and not easily distrated by shiny flashing things as I am) Seriously, an hour or less each day, and you can build a decent internet presence. Blog once each month, or when you have something to say. Tweet when something is happening. Post writing, and events and chat just a little, to keep the hordes happy, and you’re done. Not so bad is it?

Jeepers, I hear you whining again. “But I’m boring, people won’t want to know anything about me. That’s a waste of time.” Sigh, haven’t you been paying attention? Everyone has something interesting about them. Everyone. I promise you. You can base your ‘author platform’ on the genre you write in, or something you love, or just on yourself. People will be interested. It may not happen right away, but slowly, they’ll get so used to seeing you, they’ll miss you when you’re gone.

I’m not such an interesting person. Most days you’ll find me freezing in my office/garage, smoking cigarettes and writing until my fingers are so cold and stiff I’m forced to go in and tend to my children. (I exaggerate, just a little of course) I wear a bright pink housecoat all day long, over my regular clothes because my housecoat is my security blanket. I don’t think there is one person in Tweed who hasn’t seen the awful thing. I like to read, and sometimes I go for walks. Wow, that’s exciting stuff, isn’t it?
Oddly enough, people like me and are reading my work. My boring self is somewhat interesting. Why? I’m familiar to some now because I’m all over this darn place. You’re reading my words right now, aren’t you? And I’ve written a lot here. Why are you still here? Not because you’re breathless at my brilliant prose, or my my rock star personality. No, because you’ve seen me around so much you’ve got to figure out why. Then The you see my Scribd icon and click it. Read something else and think, ‘Hmm, that’s better.” and then you see my goodreads profile icon and click it. More writing there, and oh look, she’s posted some comments I’ll have a look. Then you think, “My God, the woman is crazy.”

Marketing complete for today, the right side of the platform is up, now onto the left.

See how simple that is? Now go build.

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