Saturday, March 26, 2011
Authors and the dreaded 'Promo'
Once upon a time, authors would sit in a little room somewhere and write. Not so, any more. Here is the poster I had to produce for SUPANOVA, (Brisbane next weekend and Melbourne the weekend after). They wanted a picture of me. I couldn't bear the thought of a giant poster with my face on it, so I added the book covers. It still means I have to go to the hairdressers and get them to straighten my hair because no one can take me seriously when I look like a French poodle!
On a more serious note it means I have two weekends when I can't write and, while I enjoy catching up with other writers and meeting readers, I'm happiest pottering around at home, writing when ever I can slip away to my study.
You know self promotion is serious when a publisher puts up a list of tips for their writers . (See it here, Simon and Schuster). Here are Patricia Simpson's self promotion tips for romance writers. Have to admire those romance writers, they are so organised. And here Victoria Strauss from Writers Beware talks about self promotion, and invites Alyx Dellamonica to talk about it. Then we have The Author as a Brand from Writers Website Planner and Michael Hyatt, CEO of Thomas Nelson Publishers gets in on it.
All of which is pretty overwhelming. I've heard people say, don't try and do everything. Just pick a couple of things that you are good at and do those. Here's the list of what I currently do:
I'm on Amazon Author Central. Lucky for me it updates from my blog, so I don't have to drop by there every couple of days.
I'm on Twitter, which I find surprisingly interesting. I didn't think I would because - What can you say in 140 characters or less? - but I seem to have 'Followed' a lost of quirky writers and people tweeting about political injustice. There's always a link through to a post that makes me think. I don't know if I am actually using Twitter to promote myself, more I respond to what other people have said or share a great movie or book. I have linked my blog into twitter, so it updates when I post.
I have the King Rolen's Kin blog. It's been nice having a blog because people read my books, google KRK, then drop by and tell me how much they enjoyed them, which is reassuring because I'm as insecure as the next writer. I tried to post to the KRK blog about twice a week, but sometimes after I've been marking first year UNI student essays for 5 days straight, I'm all out of interesting conversation. I sit at the keyboard and think, what do I have to say that would possibly interest people? That's why I'm relieved to be doing the interviewing of female fantasy writers. (Not that I don't like male fantasy writers. See why I'm featuring female fantasy authors).
I'm here at the Mad Genius Club, where I get an insight into what's happening with writers in the US, since my perspective is Australian and about 2 years behind the US as far as e-readers etc go. It's been very informative for me.
I'm also at the ROR Blog, where we talk about practical things to do with writing craft and what's happening in our end of the world, over here in Australia.
I am on FaceBook. I drop by once a day and do an update. Someone created a King Rolen's Kin page and I still haven't figured out how to use it. I found that if I did an update with the words King Rolen's Kin in it, the update would appear on the KRK page, but then it would disappear after a couple of days. (Still a bit of a FaceBook newbie, I'm afraid).
And when my books came out I contacted lots of review blog sites, offering copies, a guest post and a give-away. it cost me a small fortune posting books off all over the world for prizes, but I figure it is cheaper than flying to the US, the UK and Europe (I wish!).
In-person-stuff I tend to do at conventions, festivals and workshops at libraries etc. I can volunteer for panels at SF conventions and I have writing groups contacting me for workshops, but I can't get invited to festivals because my publisher is based in the UK and the way it works here in Australia, the publisher has to contact the festival. It's considered bad form if the writer does. Most of the festivals are literary and they aren't all that interested in genre writers.
All of this takes time when I could be writing. But I tend to do the on-line stuff after a long day at work, when my creative brain is tired, or after a long day of writing when my brain is creatively drained, so I don't think it is stealing that much time from my writing.
The publishing world has changed so much since my first children's book came out in 1996, all the things that you did or didn't do are different. The process of reaching out to readers is much easier. I really like that part.
Authors, people who like to be left alone for hours on end while creating invented worlds, and self promotion. It's a contradiction but we struggle on. What do you do to promote your writing?