it’s only useless banter

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But how does that work for a new, relatively-unpublished writer?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 Today’s unpublished authors are tomorrow’s stars.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.

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5 comments on “it’s only useless banter

  1. Two thousand? Well I’ve got a way to go yet.

    Hmmm. I’m undecided how many of those two thousand would actually convert to readers, but I know I’ve bought people’s self published work before, so some obviously do.

    Question. My sister is in marketing. Has run and just sold two successful internet businesses. She can’t go into the same area again for a new start up business. It occurs to me that the one thing some people might be prepared to pay a small amount for, if self published, is marketing. What do people think?

    • I think the assumption self-promotion = self-publishing doesn’t hold at all. It applies to all authors. Of course two thousand followers won’t translate into two thousand sales, but I’m pretty sure the hit rate from blog followers is much higher than from your average blunderbuss-style advertising campaign.

      If you self-publish, it’s worth paying a company to list you on Amazon and library supply lists. That will cost you a small amount. Nothing else is truly worth paying for, imo.

  2. Hey, Patty. Cameron’s looking for entertaining, informative posts on social networking for her new website – you should get in touch.

    I think you’re right – this is something for all authors, not just us self-publishers. Nothing, but nothing, (OK, apart from great books – but there are too many of those to read in a lifetime, we have to choose somehow!) makes readers disposed to buy your stuff so much as you showing that you care about them, that you are prepared to engage with them. That’s not just about a twitter presence or whatever, of course. You have to be prepared to abide by bits of etiquette (if someone intelligently @replies you, answer them, for example) or you could do more damage than good, so don’t ever go in just because you feel you should. But if you really are committed to your readers, that will come across. And those casual readers will become fans.

    • Sorry for the late reply. I have to manually approve the comments for those people who haven’t commented on this blog before, and I was at the movies. Heh.

      I really wish to stress that it isn’t just for self-publishers, as people seem to believe. I see this as a new avenue for various people of the industry to get together, even before you are published, or maybe especially before you’re published. A blog is part of advertising yourself and building up your name.

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