Thursday, January 17, 2008

Promotion--again, hardeehar

A couple of ideas crossed my mind this morning as I read over the ongoing comments and blogs. You guys are right--promotion is part of the business these days. But how to best do it in the time we've got? I’m like Vicki—I hate self promotion. My husband is better at it (on my behalf, bless his heart) than I am. He hands out my postcards and book marks at his own job, which has nothing to do with books or reading. Except from a self-educating, technical aspect, that is. He’s a hand surgeon, in case anyone is wondering at this point. When he’s on airplanes, he tells people he fixes fine machinery. I think that’s so he doesn’t have to listen his seat mate moan about back pain for five hours. But I digress.

The phone, I agree, is a great tool. But how do we get to the big audience that’s “out there?” Yesterday, my crit group met and one of the women, for whom I have a ton of respect and who has a background in marketing, is looking into viral marketing. She said one of the techniques was to email a hundred of your best friends about your latest book and asking them to email a hundred of their best friends. There must be more to it than this. Do any of you know? I already get too many emails about so-and-so’s latest book. People must get my name/email address from some writers’ groups or my website. But I couldn’t tell you the author’s name or title of the book if I were threatened with perpetual anonymity.

What do you think of the author co-op idea? One of the big drawbacks is that it would have to be fairly exclusive. It would be similar to putting together a critique group. If one (or more, God forbid) of the members turns out to be an opportunistic, condescending, mother-stabbing back grabber, the whole group falls apart. Angrily. There would need to be some solid ground rules, including a member limit and specific credentials in order to qualify. Exclusive. But maybe that's okay.

Another idea—and again I’m riffing off Vicki’s thoughts—we could start a contest. (Though we’d be right back to the issue of promotion) I’ve been an Edgar judge. Though the task of picking one best novel/short story/etc. out of five hundred or more is extremely subjective, the Edgar awards are probably the most impartial, fair-minded competitions I’ve seen.

One of our commenters, Zhadi, brought another new concept to our attention. This is the blog book tour concept. Thanks, Zhadi, for showing the link. I checked it out and noticed that Roberta Isleib is one of the tourers. Roberta is a very smart woman and an excellent writer. I’ll ask her how it’s going, as I’m curious. But overall, I don’t read many blogs. Except this one, of course. Do you?

Which brings me back to one of the biggest problems I see as a writer. How do we find the time to grow as writers, meet our publishers’ deadlines, AND promote ourselves? (And feed the kids, work the paying job, get the laundry done) And why the #%@!# isn’t there more support for the arts? Charles, are you serving those martinis yet?

3 comments:

Vicki Delany said...

Charles and I actually threw around the idea of asking our friends to send an announcement to their friends (wow, Debby has a 100friends!). But I didn't like the idea as I get so many forwards from a handful of people (not writers, just friends, or relatives of friends that took my name off my friends lists) that I automatically delete any message with the the FW: in the subject line. Of course you can remove the FW: with the use of a backspace key, but no one ever does.

Debby (Deborah Turrell) Atkinson said...

A hundred BEST friends, that is. As if. I don't delete messages with FW in the subject line, as I get some really good jokes from some of my raunchier pals. I sometimes delete the FW, though. Hmmm...

Charles benoit said...

Time - that's the problem, isn't it? Every minute you spend promoting you don't spend writing. And when you're promoting what's the first question everyone asks? "What are you working on now?" I'm tempted to say "what I'm working on is trying to get you to buy this book," but that seems so rude. I think folks would be shocked to see what % of our time goes into not writing. If they only realized that we could indeed write faster if they just bought our stuff faster...
As to the Face Book type stuff - If I spent 30 hours updating all my social contacts, making new "friends" and linking to every site I could imagine, how many books would it sell? A dozen? A hundred? At my royalty scale, that represents a small return on investment. Seriously, do you buy books because you saw the author on something like FaceBook? I can't get all of my REAL friends to buy a copy of my book let alone my virtual ones. A great way to get your name out? Yes. Appropriate for the type of sales we do? I doubt it.