There’s a lot of advice out there on how to be successful at anything. But as I reread some articles as I look for ways to promote Voice
, I really had a good laugh from something I’d read
from Seth Godin’s 2006 blog post about how book promotion should be done THREE YEARS IN ADVANCE of writing the actual book! These are rules #2 and #10.
Now, I totally understand what’s being said, here, but it still made me chuckle!
Of course it makes total sense that if you wanna sell anything that you have to make yourself known so you have a [ready] market. Now, call me Retro or old fashioned, but I still can’t help believe that there’s something’s dreadfully backward about this whole process.
Get famous BEFORE writing your best seller?
Really, this is today’s world?
Am I the only one shaking my head in utter dismay at the paradox of it all (you know, short of being a celebrity)? For me it’s not even about being “famous”…I really don’t care about all that (I severely dislike all pomp and circumstance)…I just want my work to be read. Would love to be able to make a living of this novel writing biz. It’s just the distant-end part of being a writer. You write something…others read it.
Of course what Mr. Godin says should work…but I have four novels out and have been doing this for years and I’m still not reaping the aforementioned pots-of-gold benefits.
There’s also another rule that’s just as important, more so in my humble opinion: rule #17. This one is about marketing, sales, distribution, and risk. This is where I do fall painfully short. Getting my words out there. I am slowly but surely building a following…but it’s gut-wrenchingly slow. You’ve heard it all before, full-time jobs, life, writing. Nothing new here. The word of mouth, the “face time” I’m trying to generate just isn’t traveling at light speed…but it is traveling. Just the other week I was stopped in the street where I live by a neighbor that was reading The Uninvited. He was so impressed with it and amazed that I had written it! Was surprised at how well I’d done my job…even wondered if I was as “rough mouthed” (can’t remember exactly how he’d put it…) in person as my writing was…though couldn’t fathom it, because we do interact off and on and have for years. I chuckled and told him what you see is how I am! But in my writing, yeah, I’m a little different! He really was beside himself that I had written this book, and it moved me. Thanks neighbor-who-shall-remain-nameless! BTW, this neighbor is also a writer and his work has been held in high esteem in his publishing circles, so he really appreciated it on an author level. Thank you, sir!
Anyway, back to this issue. Maybe when I release Voice things will pick up? It is a sexy thriller and sex sells. But it’s so much more than that…a story of relationships, love. Tragedy and redemption. It’s my most mainstream effort.
But, no matter how I analyze it, it all seems to be about word of mouth—for selling anything, and selling anything well. Timing. And, sure, anyone can pick anything apart, but come on, call it grass roots, blogging, interviews, whatever. It seems to me that it really doesn’t matter how much promotional and marketing platforms one has…how much of a “sure thing” one thinks they have…word of mouth and timing seem to be the torpedo or bouyancy that can sink or swim one’s efforts. And maybe I should go one step beyond and say just knowing about all this isn’t the magic bullet…but getting everyone else out there who hears about it to buy and like it is the magic bullet.
People telling people.
It’s the ground fire that sweeps beneath everything—no matter what’s going on on top—if there’s a ground fire beneath, it’ll burn, baby, burn. Ground fires are tougher to put out than surface fires.
In addition to all this is all this platform talk, which is great for nonfiction writers, but I kinda find it insane for the fiction writer. Curiously, Mr, Godin doesn’t specifically talk about that—which I like—but he does talk about building a following, etc. Yeah, we all have something we’re passionate about, but what if you just wanna write a great story—you just wanna entertain?
Platforms? Fiction writers don’t need no stinking platforms….
Yeah, right, say the opposition.
One of my brothers and I had this discussion a couple years ago. He asked some good questions. What do I stand for? What’s my selling point? If I were to be selling my work to someone like me…what would that a “me” want? Good stuff, everything. But nowadays in the traditional world it’s more than just having a good book and that book itself generating talk among people.
Can you sell a million out of the gate? That‘s the new deal.
And I’m not naive about any of this, already know about it, but it just kinda hit me from a different angle. “Defining myself” is a great way of attacking the situation, as much as I claim I want to hit as many readers as possible—because this is true (and, agents and publishers, what’s so wrong about that?). I do want my work read by more than just the SF/F/H or visionary/speculative fiction contingent. I want it read by everyone. Call my work “mainstream” or “fiction,” it doesn’t matter to me. Pick up a copy of Voice and see what you think.
One could get metaphysical about it all and propose that it’s not so much the Herculean physical effort that is needed…not the physical “time spent” that is needed…but the mindset…and I can’t argue that. And I have no answer as to why with all the mindset adjustments I’ve [thought I’ve] made over the years that more books aren’t selling from my hands (which typically isn’t exactly true: I find that in most situations when I’m actually handselling books, I do manage to sell a few! So the obvious inference is that I need to get out there…). Obviously, I’m not doing something right in getting my shit “out there.” But the one thing I am doing right is writing.
So, getting back to Seth Godin’s comments…apparently I need to:
Find more ways to promote myself three years ago.
Write more blogs three years ago.
Get on more radio three years ago.
Attend more conferences three years ago.
Devote all my waking hours to everything promotional and marketiering three years ago.
Basically, I need to change my past.
Well, I’m working on that….