By Julie Wright
I am going to talk about evil things--demonic things--things that make you cry, shudder, want to hide.
Everyone wants to be a writer. And because technology is pretty cool, lots of people get to realize that dream. Writing is the fun part--the satisfying-I-want-to-do-this-again part.
But there's this other part . . . it's ugly, it's not fun. It almost cheapens this great creative work of yours.
It's called marketing.
See! I told you I was talking about evil things today!
Publishers expect authors to self promote. They want us to get out there and peddle our little hearts out! We are pretty much required to keep blogs, to have a Facebook page, to Twitter, to have book launches, and to basically drive our neighbors insane by always mentioning how our books make great Christmas gifts.
At World Fantasy this last year, I was hanging out with Guy Gavriel Kay (and he bought me chocolate covered strawberries; is there anything in the world better than a cool author buying you chocolate covered strawberries?). Guy and I were talking about the need to self-promote. if you've never had the chance to meet and speak with Guy, you are missing out. His voice is rich and adorable. He's incredibly intelligent, and he's funny, funny, funny!
We talked about the good old days where authors were asked only to write books. Those days are so over. Ah the bliss of nostalgia.
So, what's an author to do? Well, if you don't have a blog--get one. On that blog find your own voice. Figure out your blog persona and be that. Follow other blogs and leave comments. Try to be consistent. I have problems with this a little because if I'm blogging, then I'm not writing. Writing is my first priority, and words written on my blog do NOT get to count for my daily writing goal. Get a Twitter account. Follow other people, make friends. Get a facebook account. Friend people. Be social.
That's what you do, but there are lots of "don't do" mixed into the things you do. My first bit of advice for don't do is:
- DO NOT REPLACE WRITING WITH MARKETING. It can get overwhelming. Keeping up on all these mediums sucks time away. Don't let it become the reason you miss deadlines, or the reason you missed your kid's soccer game. Keep your head while engaging in social media. Keep your priorities straight.
- When you're following other blogs and leaving comments, those comments should NOT be: "Hi I wrote a book, come over to my blog and take a look!"
That is annoying. No one will go take a look at your blog; they will likely delete your comment and create a rule that everything you do should go in a spam file.
- When you're friending people on facebook, every status update should not be: "Hey I'm selling books! Buy my books!" and do not overuse the "invite" feature on facebook that tells people of events. It gets tiresome. You will get blocked. The same goes with Twitter.
The point of these Internet tools is to make REAL friends. To care about their lives as much as you want them to care about yours. The point is not to lose the friends you already have by bludgeoning them with promotion.
We were discussing this several months ago on my writing group list, and Tristi Pinkston wrote:
Are you knocking my Tristi mugs, My Tristi T-shirts, my Tristi pens, my Tristi
flying monkeys, my Tristi fingernail decals, my Tristi water bottle covers, my
Tristi, shoelace decorations, my Tristi nose rings, my Tristi sports team (the
Tristi's), and the hospital wing named after me?
Well . . . yes.
Please note that Tristi was being funny to make the point that over promotion is well . . . overpromotion. Be yourself when writing your blog. Blog, tweet, and facebook update real things about you. This is not to say you can NEVER blog about writing. Of course you can! It's part of who you are. But balance it with other things so your friends don't run and hide when they see you coming.
Like everything in writing, a healthy dose of balance goes a long, long way.
Oh and just so you all know--I've got these great books coming out in March and I thought you'd all want to join my fan page and . . .