Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Prepping for promotion: a panicked writer's take.

Ahoy lovely readers!

Here's yet another installment of my writing journey blog posts. With my sequel well on its way to the e-shelves, I've taken some time to reflect on a major part of keeping one's novel alive.

If you're a part of the vast majority of writers, you're gonna get your start with a small publishing company or self-publish. This is completely normal and, I'm told, a great and humbling way to start your budding writing career.

Small house publishing companies come with tons of perks, too. You get your feet wet in what's usually an accepting community of writers who sincerely wish their fellow pub writers success. Before Lucid came to be, I had a slew of authors from my publishing company offering me advice and spots on their blogs. I've said it one, and I'll say it a million times: I am grateful every day for my publisher, and I wouldn't change anything about my intro into the author world.

But that doesn't make self-promotion any easier.

Like starting a garden, marketing and promotional skills help fertilize your book before it takes root on the market. You need to sew the seeds by creating blogs, author pages on social media, and joining a crap-ton of writing groups you'll probably forget your username for and never log in again.

Most other authors are probably vastly more successful at promotions than I am, but I was never a stellar gardener, either ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Me after Lucid promptly plummeted in ranks. 

But, like all things, you can get better with time, practice, and a little sweat. So, if you're a newly published author, or you're an old dog up for learning some new tricks, here's what I've found has helped:

Make a media kit ASAP 

This is especially true for small house publishers and indie authors with tight communities. In the beginning, I felt really self-conscious about asking people to host Lucid on their blogs. I didn't want to bother my author superiors by pestering them to host me. It wasn't until I started meeting new writers and having my own blog that I realized the blog hosting works both ways.

People are gonna wanna host you. Not only does it give you exposure with people you never would have thought of reaching out to, it'll also give that author some foot traffic on his/her blog. Think about it: you'll share their blog post, they'll share their blog post. It's like an amoeba and a clown fish. Y'all are both helping each other.

Don't give me that look, that was witty.

So, it's really important to have information ready to give to these authors who're so kind to host you. A media kit is about 1-2 pages of book and author information. You'll usually include a blurb/synopsis, an excerpt, your buy links, your (short) author bio, and your personal links.

Oftentimes the buy links won't be available til the day your book comes out, so I've found it handy to create a little book website. I used Wix, which is totally free for their basic site, and made the first page all about Reverie. Once Reverie comes out, the authors who are hosting me will post my Wix page, which the readers can go to and find all of my buy links sitting pretty for them.

If you want an example, you can check mine out here: Simple, no?

Twitter is your friend

When I was younger, I hated Twitter. I mean, hated it. I remember sitting in my Intro to Mass Comm class, listening to the professor gush over this new social media tool. Here were a few thoughts I had in Fall of 2008:

What am I supposed to do with 140 characters?

Facebook lets you write more than that, and it has fun games to play!

This will never take off. So stupid.

Actual photo for my freshman college ID

It wasn't until much later, and long after Lucid came to be, that I realized how much of an impact writers can have on Twitter.

The # is an all-powerful tool that can connect you with hundreds of potential readers and followers. 

For example, I started posting #scifi on all of my posts about Lucid. I gained about 10 followers in one day (which is a lot for someone of my humble reputation) just by doing that.

I also try to tweet each day with a trending hashtag. Not only does it give me exposure in new demographics, but it also serves as a nice little writing exercise each day. Sometimes, in the midst of all the marketing and social media, I forget that I'm doing this because I am a writer. Weird, right?

Try a new outlet (but don't stay if it's not your thing)

The world of social media, book promotions, etc. is constantly changing. The Internet basically turns us all into middle schoolers who are ready to jump onto the next fad train whether it's a good idea or not. Authors constantly have to chase their fanbase from one social media platform to the next.

Which can be an exciting thing, if you have a gratuitous amount of time on your hands. Most of us do not, however, so it's important to move on to something new if something isn't working for you.

For example, I know that Facebook and Twitter are gonna be my bros for a long time. I have all of my family, friends, and fellow authors on my Facebook page, so that's a standard. Twitter, despite my beliefs 8 years ago, ain't going anywhere either, and is great for attracting new potential readers. I'll keep my author stuff active on those social media sites for as long as they're around.

But, some other social media have not drunk from the fountain of immortality, and you have to know when to leave them for another thing.

Did authors promote stuff on MySpace? I was too busy worrying about my Top 5 and sweet layouts to care. 

And some social media works better for other genres. I tried out Google+ with my YA sci-fi/fantasy a few months ago. That was a flop. I didn't get a significant amount of new views on my blog, and my book still sat at the bottom of the barrel on Amazon's ranks. So, instead of hanging on to something that was dead, I've moved on.

After this blog, I'm gonna try Tumblr. I see all the whipper snappers on there nowadays, and I wanna be hip with the cool kids. Wish me luck!

I didn't know my image and likeness were in so many memes. I'm famous! 

Any other authors care to chip in about promo prep and social media sweet spots? I'd love to hear your feedback in the comments!

And until next time, keep readin and dreamin!


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