“In Your Face”
To follow up yesterday’s post (and to kill time as I sit with my sleeping child in the car), I’d like to follow it up with something that is near and dear to my heart: HOW we as artists promote ourselves.
Now, let me define artists for you, since I’m sure most of you wouldn’t place yourself in that category. An artist, for all intents and purposes of this blog, is someone who crafts a piece, attempts to sell it, and is for the vast majority of the time rarely rolling in riches. I am an artist with words. Perhaps you’re an artist with paint or with video media or with music. We’re all artists.
Now then, my dears, there are two ways you can promote your work: the “in your face” method or the “face time” method. I can already hear your snorts of derision. “But Stevie, I would never get up in the faces of my people!” Right… Let me also point out that I’ve been both a salesman (saleswoman, whatever) and a daycare teacher. They both boil down to essentially the same thing, just like any job: getting the customer to buy what you’re selling. I happen to be selling a book, so I’ll use that as my example. And, I prefer the “face time” method.
But first let me elaborate on the “in your face” method. I’m sure you’ve seen this before. How many times have you received chain mail/texts/statuses? Not online? (Shameful. How are you reading this? Move back two spaces and re-read the previous post.) Have you ever received junk snail mail? Of course you have. How did you feel? Uplifted? Appreciated? Valued? No, you probably felt like another nameless invisible person on a giant mailing list who got saddled with a bunch of deals you could care less about. Just because I live in Unnamed City, Texas does not mean I care what the Mexican meat market is selling. I can’t read half of it anyways. I just don’t care. Lots of artists choose this same method of advertising their work, hoping one or two out of every ten will bite. I used to do it, too, so remember: while I’m pointing at you, three more point back at me. Twitter now-a-days is full of artists, particularly authors, posting sentences of their work and #kindle#amazon#99cents#readitcuzyouknowyouwantto. Nope, pretty sure I’d have clicked on your last five tweets on the exact same thing if I wanted to read it. On top of that, I as a customer feel completely neglected. Mass promoting like that turns me from an individual into a number. I’m the 26th view on your website today. I’m the 39th buyer of your whatever. I’m not “Jane” who has read every single one of your books. I’m #39. It is impersonal. And because of that, you WILL not get the readers you are looking for. You’ll get all the other attention-desperate authors out there clustering around to “support” you, while your real target audience walks the other direction.
Now, a tweet every now and then about your book with a truly interesting line is great! Once is all you get, though. Remember the junk mail. More than once every day (but preferably every other day) will leave everything you say in the mental trash can.
Now, on to my personal choice for promoting: “face time.” What’s that? Ask your wife. No really! If you don’t have a wife, ask any close female. What’s face time? Face time is sitting down with someone and actually investing in them. Some examples are going on a date, hanging out at the park, having coffee, chatting in the grocery store. Face time establishes a direct connection between the individual and yourself. So how do you do that over the Internet, when there is no real face time? Connect with them personally. If they follow you on Twitter, thank them and post some kind of genuine compliment: Love your profile pic, your website is so neat, so excited for another ______ writer! And when I mean genuine, I mean actually like their picture, go to their website, and like the genre. No fake stuff. They can smell it like blood in the water. Also, follow their tweets and reply to any you find interesting. You don’t have to do that to many, but let them know that YOU know they exist. On Facebook, ask for their input. Post excerpts and get their opinions. Hold give-aways. On your blog, invite comment AND reply. Possibly hold interviews with a few. If they’re budding artists, maybe feature them. Get them involved. Once they’re involved, they will be that much more invested in what you have and will actually be interested in what you have to sell. When you show that you care, they care.
NEVER do the car salesman tactic: never fake your interest. Let me say that again. NEVER fake your interest. They will find out, run, and tell all their friends about it. (How do I know? I’m currently bitter about a car sale from a company, and I do the same thing.) One bad impression is worth ten good impressions. Which are you wanted to gather?
And my final point is to set up something on a writing site. BookRix, Figment, and WatPad are all great sites. I’ve chosen BookRix as my place of choice. Set up a profile, post a few pieces, and then forget about your own. Go out and read through pieces in contests and comment (genuine comments, remember. Positive-negative-positive sandwich.), search through the forums and join the ones you’re interested, and read some of the lowest and highest rated works. Make someone else feel special. Just watch. All those religions out there ain’t lyin’: it’s going to come back to you. It’s just another example of face time.
So, what do you think? And which category do you fall into? Let me know your thoughts and feel free to pass it along! (Yes, I did just use irony. What of it?)
Posted on November 20, 2011, in tips and tests, writing and tagged Amazon, BookRix, Calypso, facebook, figment, S. G. Ricketts, salesman, self-promotion, The Real Cinderella, twitter, writing. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.