I’ve been doing a fair amount of research lately regarding book promotion and social media as my own book, Howling: Allen Ginsberg & the Trickster in “Howl” (working title), is scheduled to be published next fall (2013).
Here are just a few things I’ve learned so far and I’ll do my best to keep it brief as these kinds of things can sometimes feel more overwhelming than helpful (at least for me!).
Be a Giver
- As my associate at Chrysalis Editorial, SC, would say: an author isn’t supposed to be advertising a product but spreading awareness of story that could bring people joy, insight, inspiration, etc. In other words, don’t think about your book as a set of knives to hock through email blasts or “Buy Me” Tweets. Think of your book as something you want to make people aware of, something that you just want to put on their radar. After all, I don’t tend to pick up books just because of a television or Twitter ad I saw for them – I tend to buy books that proffer ideas that crawl into my mind and lay little eggs of interest; books that my friends are talking about; books that speak to something I want to learn more about or that speak of a cause I’m passionate about.
- Beyond this, don’t spend every one of your social media resources looking at your own reflection with unending love and affection – make certain to spotlight the works of others; congratulate other writers for their successes; comment meaningfully and without advertisement on others’ blogs and Facebook’s.
- Remember that people – whether they are reading blogs, checking Twitter, updating their LinkedIn page or their Facebook page, rating things on GoodReads, reading the latest from Writer’s Relief, or starting up a profile on GuruTapas – have about eight million (bajillion kazillion!) other people all vying for their attention. So, why should they pause to pay attention to you? To listen to you? To read your work? By being constantly “out there,” by being constantly present, reactive, attentive, and giving through your social media, you will begin to earn a readership.
- Be prepared for marketing to become your second (third, fourth, fifth?) job, in other words.
Be a Diligent Researcher
- There is a LOT of information swirling around out in the ether these days and a significant portion of it is piss-poor at best, willfully prevaricating at worst. There are “literary agents” out there who are only interested in victimizing novice writers by promising future representation if the author will first hire them as editors. This is not to say that there aren’t plenty of reputable literary agents out there – top notch ones – who do not also work with authors to edit their work or even work as freelance editors on the side, but how do we tell the difference? How can authors safeguard themselves from bad information? How can we spread the word? How do we balance our time between sharing this sort of helpful information to our readers/followers with sharing information about our writing and upcoming events? – Keep yourself abreast of as many elements of this beast as possible, of new developments in the publishing industry, of new social media outlets, of new risks, and opportunities.
Of course, it is also important to remember that, in the end, every writer is a rival to all other writers as much as they may also be colleagues, supporters, friends, and loved ones.