Thursday, March 22, 2012

Scream, scream loudly

Have you ever wanted to be famous?

I wonder how many of us will admit to wanting to be a "six digit" best selling author. And let me say quickly that there is nothing wrong with wanting that! I am first in line for dreaming big. But how many of us have gone the extra mile-age to make it?

You cannot get that raise at work without doing something to show the management that you are worth it, and you can't get the attention of New York publishing without putting in the time behind the computer tooling out books and stories. And while I am on this tirade, they had better be darn good ones. (i know everyone is not looking to break into NY- maybe fewer than ever before-but that is STILL the best way to make $$ and be famous)

I got bored the other day at work and decided to find podcasts to listen to and found several pretty good ones on iTunes. One episode I listened to (called The Writing Show if you want to check it out) talked about how to make your work worthy of notice. (this episode was from 2005-06) And while the info was pretty dated, it still rang true, and to be honest, I haven't done a lot of what they told authors to do. I think I have been too mousy about my promoting.

Confession: I have not been the best bell-ringer for my own work, although I have done a fair amount of stuff for others, (including a radio show to promote them). And really, you HAVE to scream to everyone until you are hoarse - else, you fade in the background of a myriad of other screamers. So, scream everywhere to everyone about your book. Scream, scream loudly.

There are a LOT of writers out there promoting their books, and believe me, they scream loudly. In fact, they use bullhorns along WITH their screaming.

So, with one book newly released (Crooked Angel, Dec. 2011) and another in the wings (Loran Rudder and the Secret Key, 2012) I am going to have to learn to get my voice seasoned to scream and do it a lot longer than ever before. In fact, after listening to a show about branding yourself, I know I am failing on all scores. Have you made any change to your writing persona to attract readers?

Go on and post here about your experiences, we all want to hear (and steal) your ideas for promotion. Have a fabulous Thursday, folks.


Ron Adams said...

looking up sheepishly...Yeah, me too. We all want the best seller, but selling yourself is so completely foriegn to most. It is widely acknowledged as eing at least as important as the writing process itself, but to be honest I suck at it as badly as most. I have made a greater attempt to be a presence amongst other readers and writers, but my personal challenge is to stretch further this year into more signings, teaching classes, and trying to garner more pub for my work. it is a learned activity, so those willing to learn the most and the fastest will succeed the best. Brilliant post, Kim

Susan Whitfield said...

Marta and I were just discussing this sort of thing. I've never been comfortable tooting my own horn. It's easier for me to toot the horns of others and interview them on my blog, hoping that readers will notice my own books on the sidebar. I'm on Facebook, Booktown and lots of other writers' sites, but I seldom tweet. I'm almost embarrassed to tweet my own toot.
And I certainly don't want to be one of those ever-growing numbers of writers who constantly spam me with "Read my book" crap. Really? Do you actually think I'm going to buy it after being bullied? Okay, maybe bullied is too strong a word, but where's the happy, modest medium between professional promoting efforts and obnoxiousness?

Kim Smith said...

Yes. Don't be an ass y'all. Be friends with your readers. Nobody likes spam.

Aaron Paul Lazar said...

Great post, Kim! And boy, do I commiserate with you. I always feel uncomfortable tooting the proverbial horn, but I force myself because I really, really, REALLY wanna make writing my day job!! Have a great weekend!

Marta Stephens said...

I’ve gone the full gamut on book promotion. By the time my first novel came out in 2007, I was a member of over 30+ writers groups and somehow managed to keep up with other writers’ posts in each one. I viewed it as a learning experience and every post gave me something to think about. The belief in the Golden Rule (do unto others, etc.) compelled me to share what writing/book promotion knowledge/experiences I’d picked up along the way and like everyone who’s commented on this post, had a strong desire to help promote other writers. I did a ton of it including starting Murder by 4 and another blog in which I offered authors not only a platform for their articles and interviews, but also book tours. The tours really ate up my time. They took a ridiculously amount of time to plan and promote. Ironically, with the exception of a handful or writers (you know who you are) all the Golden Rule stuff on my part to help others was rarely reciprocated with offers to promote my novels.

The fact is, the more you give of yourself, the more that is mindlessly expected. Hence, the more time I took to promote others’ books and the more books I critiqued and/or edited the less time I had for my own writing. The worst case that comes to mind was when a new writer contacted me and beg me to help him with his first book. He even offered to pay me because his friends and family refused to read his work. That should have tipped me off. Instead, I agreed to read his first chapter. It was the worst writing I’d ever come across, but I gave him a thorough, honest and constructive critique that took hours to write. His response was that I was entitled to my opinion and he didn’t agree with my comments. No wonder his friends and family gave him the boot!! Stupid me, I should have at least taken his money.

By then, I had allowed myself to step into horribly vicious circle because deep in my heart, I felt (and still do feel) that helping others is a good thing. I became increasingly frustrated with authors who wouldn’t even come back to the blogs and post a thanks to visitors who had left comments to say nothing of the amount of my time it took to post and promote their articles or interviews. In short, I went overboard with the GR bit and became totally overwhelmed with the amount of online time with which I was trying to keep up. That was the beginning of my writer’s block. In fact I can trace it back to the fall of 2008.

Oh I wrote a couple of novels since then. One has been in the hands of an agent for a year and the other novel has been edited so much that I don’t even remember what the point of the plot is any more. I have several other novels outlined too, but that’s as far as I’ve come.

Fast forward to the summer of 2011. My family has been sideswiped with health issues so now my writing is clearly on the back burner. As hard as I’ve tried, I can’t think of one writing tidbit that anyone would want to take the time to read at the moment, so the little time I spend online is on my Facebook page (and yes, I do check other people’s pages and comment) and my personal blog where I’m journaling about the these past several months’ events in my life.

Now that life is getting back to normal—a new normal, but normal—and the cobwebs are slowly getting cleared from my mind, I know that the writing will come again. The question is (getting back to the point of this post, ha!) how much will I promote my next book? Enough to give it its due attention. I know I’ll get wrapped up in the excitement of it all. Let’s face it, there nothing better than to see his or her name on the cover of book and to feel its weight in my hands (yes, I still love to turn real paper pages). So of course, I will give promotions 110%, but not to the point where I lose sight of my writing. Nope, I learned my lesson the hard way, thank you very much and won’t allow book promotion, mine or other writers’, to tip the scale in the wrong direction again.

Aaron Paul Lazar said...

By the way, Kim. I love the image you used for this post!!