Guest blogger Cara Brookins on self-promotion, and when it becomes shameless.
Writers write. We’ve heard that statement countless times and of course it’s true. But writers also promote. It doesn’t sound as glamorous as creating exotic worlds or listening to the mysterious voices of our characters, and maybe that’s why we keep it on the down low. If writing and editing are something like a 10%/90% time split for most writers, where does promotion time come from? The well-guarded secret is that it comprises all the other waking moments of our life.
Your life is your promotion. That’s a bold statement, but my definition of promotion is broad. As a writer, you are marketing yourself, which turns every word and move into a part of your marketing platform. But here is where the balance comes in. This doesn’t mean that you should promote yourself and your book in every conversation — both real and digital. It’s a real problem if your Facebook posts, tweets, and visits to the dentist all begin and end with things like:
The one thing missing in your life today is… my book!
Here is a quote from my book that divulges the meaning of life.
In my book you’ll learn the proper way to extract a molar.
My book is for sale today… just like I reminded you it was yesterday, and the day before, and the day before that.
The only thing this sort of person makes me want to buy is Chinese finger cuffs for each of their digits.
You must tweet. Of course, some of the shameless digital promotion is necessary. Asking your cyber friends to like your author page or review your book is all part of a good marketing strategy. Do this with obvious taste and respect. Be subtle. Be classy. Most of all, be organized by keeping track of your requests. For example, when I ask a group of people to read an ARC and post an early review, I keep extremely detailed records. I create a spreadsheet showing who I asked and on what date. If they agree, I enter the date I provided them with a copy of the ARC. Another column shows the date (about a month later) when I send a link to the review sites. Finally, I list the date of their review post which is followed by my thank you email. If they fail to post a review within two weeks of the link being sent, I send a single reminder before marking them as complete - and ceasing my requests for reviews, likes, or anything else I’ve asked for.
Writing is a business. If you want to be perceived as a professional, this sort of organization is the only way to build respect as a professional author.
Show don’t tell. I know what you’re wondering, if you aren’t telling people how much they need your book every third second, how are they going to know how wonderful it is? The best way to explain my belief is in writer speak. When you develop a character for a novel, you try hard not to narrate the character’s personality to the reader. You want them to discover the character’s type by watching their actions and listening to their words. Promotion should be handled in much the same way. Use Facebook, Twitter, your website, and your blog to show (not tell) your writing ability and your personal character. Write posts that are eye catching, well formed, and thought provoking. Make your cyber mates think, “I love the way this author writes, and I really need to buy one of those books!”
Buy me. In short, instead of promoting some author character you want people to think you are, be the author who you would like to read. This step is the primary way to turn writing from a hobby or a job into a vocation. If writing is your calling, then learning to be a better, more rounded, and complete person through your writing is the only way to find success.
Now start the count on those promotion hours by displaying the character of an author whose work you would enjoy reading.
Cara is a fulltime senior programmer/systems analyst by day and a writer by night. In between these passions she creates works of art including paintings, mosaics, concrete structures, jewelry, paper-mâché wall art – and her home. See Cara’s website for more information.
The shift has hit the fan. The first in Cara Brookins’ Timeshifters trilogy was released on May 14, 2013. Check it out at https://www.Timeshiftersbooks.com or https://www.facebook.com/TimeshiftersBooks