Thursday, August 03, 2006

Who Loves Ya Baby?

As humans we all search for acceptance, even when we insist we don’t care what others think. It’s basic instinct. As writers, however, we need input—we crave acceptance of, not us, but our work. The stickler is, as we start out, finding those who can give us what we crave.

In Field of Dreams the voice said, “if you build it, they will come.” Cute, but it doesn’t work in publishing. You can write it, but that doesn’t mean the readers will come. They can’t read your writing, or buy your book, if they don’t know you exist. You can hope and pray for some heavenly intervention all you want, it just ain’t gonna happen.

So what’s a writer to do? How does he, or she, get people to come?

Okay, cover your ears if you are not prepared to hear the most profane word in the writer’s lexicon—Marketing.

Yep. Sorry folks, that’s the hard, cold truth. Publicity, marketing, and all of those things that the artist in us is adamantly against, are the only things that will bring the readers to your work.

Get Your Name Out.

Name recognition is a primary aspect of marketing. Called branding by most, it is a matter of getting your name out in front of as many folks as possible, as often as possible. It’s said that it takes a buyer seeing a name a minimum of three times before they’ll consider buying the product. (Yes, start now in thinking of your novel as a product, and your name as the identifier for that product. You are the ‘Hostess’ of the ‘Twinkie’ world in publishing.)

The Internet is a fantastic tool in the writer’s arsenal. Websites, blogs, email loops, chats, forums, signature lines in email, or on forums, all create visuals that readers see consistently.

Don’t stop at the Internet, though. There’s no reason to limit yourself in such ways. Low cost, and even no-cost business cards are readily available, as well as either ready made, or make it yourself bookmarks, and flyers. Post flyers anywhere bullitin board space is available. Give out bookmarks to libraries, schools, or, to someone you see reading a book on the train, bus, or in the park.

Business people in all walks of life are always ready with their card… you should be too. Have it handy, and ready to produce whenever someone asks you about yourself, and/or what you do.

Be Prepared To Talk.

Always be prepared to talk about writing, your stories, how you live as a writer. These things interest ordinary folks. It is a romantic notion to them, and one that we know isn’t a reality, but face it, and embrace it, normal people want to know about those of us that they consider to be living under the artistic umbrella of ‘eccentric’ and ‘artsy’. Whatever way you handle that, either by dispelling the fantasy, or giving them what they crave by weaving a world of delightful artistic debauchery, you will win an audience by the fact that they fell they’ve touched upon another realm of existence, and have a connection with its inhabitant. Nothing makes a stronger connection for a reader than seeing a book and being able to say, ‘I know him!” Or “I talked to that writer.”

Sampling.

Giving a reader samples of what they might expect from your products overall is a great way to let them decide if they like your style enough to take the plunge and purchase other works. Post excerpts from novels on your website. Post full-length short stories, or novellas as a gift on your website. Posting fulls not only gives the potential reader a complete feel for how you handle a story, but also a sense of gratification, and appreciation of your generosity.

It’s a lot of work getting your name, and your products out where they will be seen, and then acknowledged, and these are just some of the ways. It’s worth it in the long run though. So, however you do it—as Nike says: Just do it.

4 comments:

Bernita said...

Clear advice, as always.
Business cards, particularly.

Lady Aeval said...

AMEN! Just because you've written the GAN (Great American Novel) doesn't mean you're going to be flooded with sales. There are thousands of bookstores around the country and a great place called the Internet that brings them all together. Learn it, live it, love it, use it.

That little thing in your email and forum posts called a signature goes a long way, baby. ;-)

MissWrite said...

Thanks, Bernita. I went missing today. Lots of work, and time just got away from me.

Thanks for stopping by, Rebecca. Nice to see you here! :)

Schuyler Thorpe said...

I just post whole drafts of my books and give people their own time to read them.

"Samples"--in my opinion--just doesn't cut it anymore.

And yes, I've used the internet immensely over the last several years, but before the internet found me, I was out there--in person--telling people and complete strangers that I was a writer, and filled them in on what I was doing. (This was 11 years ago.)

And though I'm not ready to be published yet (as traditional just doesn't entertain the little kid in me anymore--it used to, but no longer), I still write, I still share what I know, and most importantly what's going on in my life.

Because as you know, us writers lead a lonely life--even though we are sometimes married to our work and the people we love.