Saturday, March 03, 2012

Be My Yenta

Writers hear it all the time: "You have to market yourself."

It's a mantra.

"You won't find a publisher unless you have a digital presence and unless you've proven that you can tap into a network."

So, here's my question, and one I pose seriously, "What's the best way to market yourself?" Me? I think it's forging relationships and moving through social networking building bonds with a community, not just for self-promotion, but because you enjoy being part of that community. Others obviously take a different view. They tend to speak up only occasionally, and usually when they have something to promote.


And this is not just a message delivered once, but many times across several platforms. There's one horror writer I won't mention who is a human sandwich board moving through Facebook.

I'm asking. What is your idea of promotion? What should a writer do to market himself intelligently and efficiently? I want free advice here. Be my yenta (Note..for my non-Jewish friends..yenta is a matchmaker, but also a meddler, gossip, and advice giver).


Joe Ponepinto said...

It is tough finding a balance between writing and promotion (and I curse the publishing gods for basing their manuscript buying decisions on who has the most Twitter followers). Personally, I believe a consistent, intelligent presence in social media will achieve at least some recognition. I'll never appeal to those who like the outrageous or sensational--it just ain't me. Fortunately I've found a community of like-minded bloggers and Twitter friends who think the same way. We make it a point to comment on or like each others' posts, and slowly, our numbers appear to be rising. Yeah, we'd probably all rather be writing the stuff we are passionate about, but we are willing to do what we must to get to where the publishers insist we be.

Aric said...

Is it really coming to that? Or is that a polite way for publishers to turn down a story?

I read a book on developing your "platform" and it was useless -- entirely focused on nonfiction. Every time I think of someone who seems to be doing the social marketing thing well, it dawns on me they've been successful for awhile. (Saladin Ahmed is up and coming though -- very active on fb and twitter, and not just promotional.)

Blogs seem to work best when they provide something of value (say laughs) and when they're tightly focused on a single theme. Pros say it's better to have three blogs, each with their own theme, than to have one blog with three themes. (Now watch me violate that...) OTOH, if the theme of a blog is about writing, it will most likely appeal to people who want to sell their own stories. (One of my personal faves for a blog that started out as a great "platform" is Stuff White People Like, which apparently hasn't been maintained since the two books were published.)

Judging by the blogs of people like Scalzi and Rothfuss, SFF writers increase their blog followers by blogging commentary or reviews of SFF books, TV, and movies. You have strong opinions about what books are enjoyable or awful. Why not blog about "Why China Mieville sucks" or something along those lines? Being outrageous and starting a discussion seem to be the keys to getting eyeballs. (Not guaranteeing that said topic will increase your readership, but you might be putting words to what many readers have thought. Who knows?)

Stewart Sternberg said...

Joe, I think the idea is to have a plan. If people have a plan, they are less likely to be distracted and post endlessly cutting into writing time.

Charles, I am a Tiger's fan. As in Tiger's Baseball. I get some of my best team information following related twitter feeds.