Five thoughts about writer publicity

One of the things that makes the WOTF workshop valuable is that it goes way beyond writing as a craft. In fact, it’s more or less assumed that since the participants got there, their writing was pretty solid anyway, and those writers are ready for the next step. So, we heard a lot about publicity.

A lot of writers complain about having to do publicity, because the word ‘publicity’ conjures up images of the hard sell, and book signings where no one turns up. No one wants to do that. But, I think a lot of people confuse publicity with selling. I’ve ‘sold’ stuff for a long time, and I can tell you: sales and publicity are not the same. Publicity is much more effective than the hard sell for getting sales, but it’s a nebulous beast in that you never know what particular action will be successful.

So here are some of my thoughts about it. As always, feel free to comment.

1. If you’re on Facebook or Twitter, or have a blog, or an Amazon page, you’re already in the business of publicity. Yes! That’s all there is to it: a spot where people can find out what you write and what sort of person you are. Make sure the information on these pages is correct and up-to-date, and accurately reflects what you’d like people to read about you and your fiction.

2. Publicity is engaging with people, in whatever form, in whatever place. Choose what suits you, and ignore what annoys you. There is no time in the day to do everything anyway.

3. Publicity is not something you do for a few days, and then let it take care of itself. It’s something that takes a long time building up, and that improves if you put regular effort into it. It’s not something that ever goes away, either.

4. Neither is it something that will give immediate results. If you’re still thinking: I’ll go and advertise my book on XYZ sites and be done with it, you’re going to come away disappointed. The publicity beast is not only relentless, but it needs reinforcement, all the time. Advertising is shouting at people ‘buy my books!’. And yeah, people are smarter than that. They want to know that they can ‘trust’ that you write what they’ll invest time reading.

5. Publicity is showing who you are and what you write by interactions. Interviews (if you get asked–you may exchange interviews with other writers for fun and practice), blog posts (if you don’t get asked), replies to questions on forums (to show that you’re human and generally a good egg).

You hear a lot of frightening stuff about publicity, but I think it comes down to a very simple point: interact and engage in discussions and keep doing this, in the media of your choice.

Meanwhile, don’t forget to keep writing good stuff.

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