Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Getting on with it.

Blechta here.

I guess we're in promotion mode at the moment, so I might as well go along with it since I have a new book coming out in (gulp!) less than two months.

First thing I have to say to my blogmates is, "Wah, wah, wah."

I say that with tongue mostly in cheek, but there's something behind it. Look, if you don't want to deal with promotion, don't get in this business. You are way more than likely not going to go anywhere. And there are no ways to avoid having to promote your writing. As Charles pointed out, it's inevitable.

That being said, there are different levels of promotion: the kind where most everything is laid out for you and you just have to follow directions (be at this airport, be ready at x:xx in the lobby of your hotel so we can drive you to the TV studio, etc), down to where most of us are (doing pretty well everything ourselves). Now the interesting thing is that every writer, regardless of where they are in the pecking order, complains about having to promote their books. I have heard just about every whine in the business at this point. "I hate having to do two interviews and a signing all on the same day. It's just too exhausting!" (This is my favorite, overheard in an elevator at a conference between two big name authors. I felt like smacking them upside their heads.)

I'd be the last one to say that I don't complain. (Vicki's heard me do it -- long and loud, too!) It's just that when all is said and done, the last of the whine savored and enjoyed, we're no farther ahead. Every job has parts that are no fun to do. In the authorial business, promotion (for most) falls in that category. Live with it -- or give up writing.

To those who say they're no good at it, I say, "You're smart. Ask questions. Learn how to do it. Fortunately, it's not something you have to be born with. If your personality is of the mousey type, then make up a character who is great at promotion and become that character. You're a writer, aren't you?

I'd say for 95% of writers, you have to be a good promoter to have real success. Vicki's blog from yesterday makes some very good points. It helps if you're good looking, have a great voice, know how to dress, have an outgoing personality, or you're already famous. I'm not in that lucky 5% and I'm not very well known -- even on my own street. If I'm going to get anywhere, not as a writer, but as a successful author, I'm going to have to overcome my shortcomings, physical and otherwise, and learn how to do what I need to do. When I decide I've had enough (or my publisher does that for me), then I'll have to re-examine my options, but I won't stay an author and say I'm not going to do anymore promotion.

This thread started off with Debby saying we should pool resources, and I think that's a very good idea. But I think that first we should all decide that promotion is the yucky side of this business but that it has to be done -- by us -- at least for now, and then get on with it.

Vicki and I had the privilege of watching Sci Fi author Rob Sawyer work a room at a small con in Sarnia, Ontario. It was quite evident why he's such a successful author and we both learned a lot that day. What he did had nothing to do with his writing. He wants to sell his books and has learned how to do it. So has Charles. I feel his pain. He must get awfully tired of the promotion treadmill and he's on it far more than most of us. I think he was just having a down day when he wrote his blog entry.

His blog was a wake up call, though. I'm about to step on that treadmill and it's not a comforting thought knowing how many hours I'm going to have to spend between now and June, getting all my things together; booking appearances; designing posters, newsletters, hand-outs; driving; talking to people I really don't want to talk to; smiling when what I really want to do is throttle someone. It's part of being an author. I don't have to like it, but I do it anyway. I want to sell books, and sadly, if no one knows who you are, you aren't going to sell many. The only thing I have control over is what I do to promote myself.

At least I have a book coming out. That's a lot better than sitting at home writing yet another novel that I won't be able to get any publishers or agents to read.

It's kind of nice, though, that the first publicity thing I'm doing for A Case of You is with Vicki Delany. If you have a chance Thursday evening, listen in!

The little cartoon at the beginning of this entry sort of sums up the whole thing, doesn't it?


Josephine Damian said...

How do feel about myspace as a promotional tool?

Did you know Barry Eisler believes his having a myspace and using it to get the word out about his last release is what helped him get on the NYT bestseller list for the first time?

It's free, but very time consuming when you first start because the goal is to have hundreds, if not thousands of "friends" whom you can all reach with one click by sending out a bulletin. Once you reach a certain saturation level, people will want to "friend" you - and you don't have to spend as much time working it once you get established.

Also, that Steve Weber book "Promote your book online" has a ton of valuable tips.

Charles benoit said...

What got Barry on the NY Times Best Seller List is that he wrote a fantastic book that was exactly what the public was jonesing for - think a Bourne Identity type thriller with some hot sex scenes tossed in. Barry likes to say that it was his networking when the truth is he's an exceptional thriller writer.

Vicki Delany said...

I am increasing feeling that there are so many networking sites out there that they are becoming just noise. I belong to several, and I rarely even visit them any more. I must have a hundred friends that I don't even know. I never invite anyone to be my 'friend' but I never refuse an invitation (cause I'm such a nice person). But if get promotional material from those 'friends' I consider it spam.

Rick Blechta said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Rick Blechta said...


First off, thanks for dropping by. I hope you're enjoying the chatter. If you stick around for a bit, perhaps Charles will mix you one of his martinis.

One thing I thought about touching on in my posting was what you're referring to. The "hip" term for it is viral advertising. (But what is hip?)

Now this approach does work. Think of those really rude car ads that have been posted on YouTube. Those were never meant to be shown on TV, but they were paid for by the car (or whatever) companies. Why? Because people talk about them and send them to all their friends. That's successful advertising -- and much cheaper than normal, too.

Only problem is (and Vicki is very right here) when does viral advertising become spam? I think we're fast reaching that point. I get so much facebook and myspace stuff now, I really don't care to read it. Sometimes it's from someone I would like to contact, but more and more it's from people I don't even know, so I torch it from my inbox.

What the heck are we talking about anyway? If someone set the WayBack Machine for even 15 years ago and started talking to people about viral advertising becoming spam and torching things from their inbox, they would probably be locked up. My, my, how times have changed -- and all due to computers. Why we're even losing punctuation to the ubiquitous machines.

I think Charles would agree that in order to get the most bang for your buck, you have to latch onto the "next great advertising wave" as it's coming toward you, not after it has passed.

Man, I wish I knew how to spot one...

Anonymous said...

Several people have told me that they discovered my book by "friending" me on MySpace. That's not a lot, considering I have over 1000 friends, but I know at least one library (in the next county from me) has stocked my book because they found me on MySpace.

I have two books coming out this spring/summer. I'll be interested to see if MySpace has any impact on my sales. (And about the only way I'll know is if my "friends" tell me they bought the books.)

That said, I rarely send out a bulletin. Most of them are spam--or lonely people who think I want to follow their every (boring) move throughout the day.

Vicki Delany said...

Good luck with it Lorraine, and if it works for you - go for it. I might have been a bit sharp in my reply to Josephine. That is, of course, my experience only. Gotta run and catch that next wave!