How To Promote Yourself as a Writer Without Being Obnoxious

How to Promote Yourself as a Writer Without Being Obnoxious
M.K. Hobson, Jess Hartley, Lizzy Shannon, Alma Alexander
OryCon 33
  • Alma: Publishers want you to be out there everywhere. Facebook, Twitter, Blogging.
  • Lizzy: Make the mistake of dressing as a Klingon to promote her first book. Big flop.
  • Jess Hartley
  • Hobson: Since I write historical fiction of a given period, costuming helps, because there is a common interest
  • When it comes to promotion, how much does what you write or what you do, drive what you do or don’t do in terms of promotion?
    • There is a different between promoting yourself as a writer as opposed to a book. Promoting yourself is good. You want people to remember your name. 
  • Alma: I am a shy person who would crawl under a table at parties, but if you put me in a position where I can talk about words and writing, that I can do. I can put myself in a discussion or at a talk.
  • Making yourself memorable, but not in a bad way.
    • A careless word or an off day.
  • We all have off days, but if you alienate someone who could have been a great fan by being rude, you can ruin that relationship - turn them against you.
  • On the other hand, sometimes you need to seperate the person from the book. You don’t have to agree with everything about an author to enjoy their book.
  • Internet things never go away. 
    • If you argue with someone, even in a small discussion forum somewhere, the next thing you know it could be on reddit.
    • Anne Rice alienated many of her readers when she responded to one online saying that person was too dumb to understand it when they complained about it.
  • Sometimes you get an author who bullies you into buying a book. But that doesn’t create a fan who is going to be excited about blogging about the author.
  • The camera is always on. 
  • If there’s a community of interest, don’t go there to promote your book. Go there to participate. Be part of the conversation. 
  • Devil’s Advocate: There’s an author, selling hundreds of thousands of copies of their self-published ebook. He promotes shamelessly, all the time, everytime he talks to anyone. “have you read my latest book?” So what does this say about the “not being obnoxious” principle?
    • My goal is to build a readership and to give value to the community and build a lifetime career. I want to build something that will sustain. If he stops promoting, is there a community that will still push his sales forward? Maybe not.
  • Hobson: I’m concerned that I’ve created a certain kind of persona geared toward my genre fiction. Is it going to be a problem moving into a new genre?
    • Lizzy: I have several things in different genre, but they all have a common Irish theme.
    • Alma: I don’t like being typecast. I don’t want to get jaded and bored, and find that it’s a chore to churn out something new. So I am not going to write the same kind of book again.
    • Jess: I’ve seen authors who are writing erotica and who have highly sexual branding, and it becomes a limiting factor that makes it hard for them to move outside that.
  • What is the most helpful thing you’ve ever done, and what’s been the biggest bust?
    • Alma: I had a bunch of tiny little postit notes that promote my book. They are really popular. I give them away at cons. They are wildly successful. By lunch they are all gone.
    • Lizzy: A book launch party or a party at your house to promote your book. People come in and they buy the book. 
    • Jess: Making myself be outgoing, introducing myself to people. Asking people questions. Being interested in what they have to say.
      • What seems good but isn’t it: I’ve seen people putting their books on flash drives. But there’s no way I am going to put an unknown flash drive on my computer. It’s a wonderful theoretical idea, but in practice, no way.
      • Audience comment: bring coupon codes for your books. It’s easy to Smashwords.
    • Hobson: 
      • Bust
        • Sticky notes and things like that don’t work for me. I lose them or forget to deploy them.
        • I hate talking about my own work.
        • Don’t ever include food items. Chocolates that melt, things that rot.
        • Never, ever put glitter in an envelope of any kind. Glitter goes everywhere and they are going to hate you forever.
  • Q: How do you measure if something in successful?
    • Alma: Stickynotes are not just a little card. They are a whole block of cards with the book staring at you. 
    • Hobson: Something you can measure and get metrics on. Coupon codes are something you can track. You can calculate an ROI. But most writers don’t have the time or energy to go to that depth. But it’s a good thing to do.
    • Jess: Use Google analytics to track hits. I can see things get retweeted, reblogged, etc. 
    • Hobson: Finding places where you can be involved but it’s not directly about writing. Stuff you are really interested in. 
    • Jess: If you can get someone else to talk about your work, that has 10x the impact of you talking about it yourself. Maybe that can be cross promotion. Maybe thats who you meet at conventions. 
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