Self Promotion, Part Two

So, I’m a writer.  I hop on the surfboard and scan the net for keywords.  This affirmative action puts me in touch with other writers.  Great!  We meet, we talk.  I’ve learn a lot; hopefully, they learn a few bits from me.  Cool!

But….                                                                                                                                       

Does this put me any closer to my READERS?   Hum, I’d say NO.

***

Writers are friends; READERS are lovers.

Writers comment; READERS read & say nothing.  (At least, that’s my experience.)

Friends are loyal; READERS are fickle.

***

Ergo, if I wrote science fiction, would I be wiser to haunt science sites and spend my time commenting on science fiction magazines?  Would it be better for me to dazzle them with my insights?  If I wrote YA, would I be wiser to cozy up to moms.  If I wrote for kids, should I plaster cartoons and graphics on the blog?  Where do romance fans hangout?  Where do fantasy people go?  Ah, but even if I make contact with my target, I still have to have a site.

So, let’s say a READER jumps on line, looking for a new book.  Are they using the same tag words that I use?  Books cost mucho pesos.  Maybe, they’re looking for something free.  Free is good.  (My stuff would make good lunchtime reading–that’s a plug, by the way.)

But….

Is largess enough to attract a crowd?  I say NO. Somehow we must wag the bait, we must attract, and we must give free samples.  Our potential patrons want to taste before they eat.

***

So a  fish capers by, but how do I hook ‘um?  Let’s look at how the Big Leagues do it, Amazon for instance.

  1. You type in a genre.  (dang, there’s that word again.)
  2. Click on a book.
  3. Look at the front cover.  (pretty, appealing, artistic)
  4. Peruse the back cover.
  5. Read the first page.
  6. Read a so-called random page.
  7. Proceed to Check-out.

Now, take that sales model–and believe me, there was a lot of research that went into this model–and apply it to your own blog.  Do you have a sample of your writing that’s clearly, blatantly visible to the READER?   Is it there every single time a fish swims by? Or does your little fish have to leap to another site?  Do they have to jump through hoops and wade through posts that are of no interest to them?  Do they have to join a club, sign-up, and give an email address?  Many people are hinky about that.

Are you asking them to download the entire book without even a preliminary nibble?  A lot of fish are going to be thinking about computer memory.  How much space is this going to take?  What if there’s a virus?  And even if it is free, what if it’s a load of crap?  The very least thing you could do is tell them how much memory your story will take.  Also, now, we must consider iPods and e-readers.  Are we compatible in multiple ways?

***

Remember the READER is not interested in your technical talk, your publishing woes or your writer’s block.  While these kinds of post may be therapeutic for you, and C.M. is interested in different ways to bail out the boat, this kind of talk hardly reeks of success.  I’m wondering now if these two topics (writing and writing about writing) should be separated, cleaved and permanently parted.

As for me, I do have samples out—just like at the delicatessen—but even this is not good enough.  My stories have gotten decent hits for a ‘stumble on sales pitch,’ but nothing to set my heart singing.  I must attribute this to a single, ego-deflating fact, I have not attracted my fish, the READER.  How can I highlight the stories and shove my jargon to the back?  Hum.  This might require a second blog—one for my writing pals and one for my Stories Period.  Yet that does seem like a lot of work.

What say you?  Thoughts, debates, additions???????



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13 thoughts on “Self Promotion, Part Two

  1. Right on target, as usual. I looked at my blog, Tracking the Words, and decided that it was covering too much territory already to add my fiction to it. So a second blog is in the works. I’ve been trying to decide whether I’ll do any blogging at all on it (love that WP is so flexible), or design it to be as close to a website as possible. There are topics I’d like to talk about in connection with the themes of my fiction, but maybe articles would work better. In any case, the first page will be about the themes in my writing, and the index of pages, including the sample chapters is at the top of the side bar.

    It’s important not to send readers to another site until and if they’re ready to buy. A Buy link at the end of each sample chapter? And make sure that any other links open in a separate window so that it’s easy for readers to come back home to you.

    🙂 I know you didn’t ask for design suggestions, but a good blog post often gets my mind working, right on the spot. If you want to take a look at my fiction blog (not yet ready for prime time), to give you an idea of how I’m setting it up, it’s http://darkboundaries.wordpress.com/

    • Ooh, beat me to the punch there. Good advice. I shall be following this very close. I’m thinking of something similar, and have even given thought to keeping the second blog private, until I have enough material to make an impact.

      Tag words will be important and surely different from the ones you and I used to find each other. Also, I think, its vital that the whole site be geared toward the First Time Visitor.

    • cmm, sorry if this looks as if I’m replying to myself, but your reply showed up in my mailbox, even though it isn’t here. (very strange) Anyway — tags, yes. They’re always important. I haven’t made the blog private, but this is the only place I’ve provided the link so far. (Hmm. I’ll have to check that, just in case I did make some pages private.) For what it’s worth, when you check it out, I’ll be seriously revising the front page text. I need to make it more welcoming and be a bit more specific about the nature of the books, particularly Hidden Boundaries. If you decide to do a book blog, I’d love to exchange ideas with you.

      • Double yes, on that Catana–about the front page, I mean. We must, must keep in mind that first time clicker, while also amusing our old friends. 😉

  2. Got the brain ticker ticking again. Right now I’m pretty certain my site is a tough cookie. There’s no real “Hello”. Haven’t figured out how I want to do it. I use Facebook and Twitter, connected through Hootsuite, so I can post status updates without becoming cumbersome to my site (but you can easily check my updates using the Meebo bar I installed at the bottom of my site).

    I too have contemplated the idea of mingling in some blog posts with stories, and I’ve done it a little… but I’m not a big, big fan of it. To me thus far, the important thing is for my readers to be able to find exactly what they’re looking for. If they’re reading a novella of mine, I want them to be able to find it fast. If they’re following along with the progress of my novels, I want them to find that easily as well. I’ve currently got novels as pages across the top menu, and novellas and other things in menus on the right. But right now it almost feels like a big pile of stuff, as if I’m saying “Welcome to my closet; there’s my shoes, my coats, and there’s the printer. My stories come out of the printer and fall on the floor. Have fun!” I kind of feel like I need to organize it even better than what it is now.

    And then there’s the whole SEO thing–Search Engine Optimization–which I have not mastered by any means.

    One thing I think is important is visuals. It seems a lot of fellow writers seem to lack in this area. And as you mention Amazon and the book cover and such, you would think we would all realize we need a visual to present the material at hand. I’ve been trying to utilize a singular graphic to match the stories I write. Especially novels and novellas. If I expect my reader to read for a while, they need something to convince them it might be worth it. And a visual seems tempting enough.

    But then there’s the age old “I’m no artist” argument. And while that may be true, there are plenty of artists and photographers out there working just like us writers, and if you can find them you’ll find many of them are willing to let you use some of their stock works for free. As of right now, all the graphics I’m using for novels and novellas are stock photos that I’ve taken and edited a little here and there, added a title to it and voila! And I’ve been really cheap and quick about it, too, by using Google’s Picasa web albums editing tools which is Picnik or whatever. Any rate… I find a lot of my stock pics at http://www.deviantart.com .

    I’m rambling…

    • No, you’re not rambling. I understand perfectly what you are saying and thanks for the pic site. I do wrestle with this graphic issue, as I can produce nothing better than a 3rd grade, elementary school picture. It’s amazing how many hats we must wear: writer, publisher, and graphics engineer.

      Human nature is such that when someone clicks on a site, the first thing they are going to do is look at the pics or graphics. If that does not represent what they are looking for, I think that it will be very likely that they will hit the back button without reading a single word.

      I have been to your new site, and there does appear to many things going on. (I like your analogy of welcome to my closet) In advertising they have a thing called product recognition. For instance, I seldom buy stockings and I can’t remember the name of the brand, but I do know that they come in an egg and the box is pink. 🙂

      If I were doing what you’re doing on your new site, I think I’d put a thumbnail size copy of each representative graphic and place it at the top of every entry. That might seem repetitive, but necessary. Or I might even do separate pages.

      AS far as blog post, check out what I have to say tomorrow on my last and final Self Promotion, Part 5.

      • Here here…

        Where would we be in this world without a little constructive criticism? We all need it. And besides, we’re writers not editors! We’re going to make mistakes, lots of them.

        I do put into play the graphic at the beginning of each post in a particular series already… note this one: http://www.talesfrombabylon.com/2007/02/1-sadistic.html . I do like using that method, so the story jumps out, and teases with a graphic. But I can’t always “find” a graphic that works for a story at the time of posting, nor can I always find the time to make my own. Which I certainly can, but it does take some time and planning when it involves a model.

        Any rate… I’m in “shock and terror” that you are ending this series so soon.

        For some real shock and terror, in terms of storytelling… check this out: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cgAbVfh6WYg

      • Well, what I was thinking: If you have a novel going, you should begin each new chapter with that same graphic, only in thumbnail size, so that the reader could easily identify it from everything else. If you’ve got some other series going, it too should have a signature pic, but a different one. You know, kind of like picking up the same book every time by recognizing the color and design, without having to search for it or read the title. Like, oh yeah, I’m following the one with the picture of the girls.

        Did that make sense????

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