Facebook, blogs, Twitter, it’s all a load of useless banter that keeps me from writing.
Or is it?
Let’s take a step further back:
Marketing yourself as author.
I think far too many people assume that marketing is a nebulous thing that gets done by the publisher after you’ve published a novel. After all, they’ve got the budget, the flyers, the posters, the connections with review sites and publications. Do you know it costs to get a review in a publication as lowly as your local free newsrag? That’s right, the one with all the ads? Who reads this anyway? How many copies does that stiff and formal type of advertising sell? To make the question a bit more personal: have you ever bought something based solely on an ad in a formal publication?
Ahem. Insert resounding silence.
So how do you decide what books to buy? In my case, it’s because I’ve heard someone talk about the book in one of my networks. Sometimes I’m familiar with the author. Very often, the author is on my f-list, or I’m a member of their site, or something similar.
I largely buy books from authors who are out there themselves marketing their own books, even if only by offering ‘useless banter’ on a blog. I am allergic to formal, publisher-vetted-and-sanctioned promo-blurb blog entries. I can smell a commercial a mile off, and will run, but I love connecting with authors and reading about their writing, their dogs (or ferrets), their kids and their bird-watching habits. If I’ve seen the development of a book blogged, I am likely to be interested in reading it, because the author’s blog entries have made it real to me.
But how does that work for a new, relatively-unpublished writer?
Well, large networks do not pop out of the ground like mushrooms. You have to work on them. You have to keep posting content that engages people. When it does, more people will come, but none of this happens quickly. Today’s unpublished authors are tomorrow’s stars. Today’s agent-assistants are tomorrow’s hotshot agents. Today’s small press is tomorrow’s hottest-thing-of-the-year. The cohort of writers with whom you are going through the learning process will contain a few people who will make it big in one way or another. I can guarantee that there will be people who decide to start a small press voracious for new writers, who will be more inclined to give your work a break because they already know you. There will also be people who become editors. These contacts are extremely useful, but you must keep cultivating them, because you don’t yet know who these people are going to be.
And all the rest of your hundreds of Facebook ‘friends’ and your Twitter followers? Well, they’re your potential readership. Entertain them, and they will follow. If you’re on the cusp of a publishing deal, and you can offer the potential publisher a ‘friends’ list with two thousand members, they may well be more inclined to sign on the dotted line.
So… useless banter? Not in the slightest.