Todays post ties in to my last one. Promoting yourself and your work.
How do you reach the most people, the most effectively, with the least amount of effort?
Well, if this were Amway, we’d recruit three people and they’d recruit three people and then they’d recruit three people. We’d all save money buying products we were going to buy anyway and maybe sell a few things to our friends and neighbors. But, this isn’t that. This is selling ourselves. And for someone who isn’t used to doing that, I did what I do best.
I freaked out.
Actually, I turned to the pros.
I’ve been really fortunate to fall in with some of the nicest people you could ever hope to meet. They’re always super busy, so any time they offer their advice, you better believe I listen. Sometimes the advice they give isn’t what I want to hear, but so far in life, I’ve yet to have anybody tell me that there truly is a magic pill for weight loss, a secret elixir for gaining wealth or a holy relic that will be bring me all the knowledge of the universe. And if you think about it, if anybody had any of those things, human nature being what it is, would they really share it? So, with honest advice shared, the next step is to take that advice and apply it.
How to promote oneself.
There are many different ways to do this. There are also many ways NOT to do this. So far, all the ways NOT to do this can be summed up thusly: “If it sounds too easy, don’t waste your time.” It’s either a scam to separate you from your money or it’s ineffective. I’ve yet to have any of the pros tell me, “Yes, sign up with such and such website to promote you. They’re great!” In fact, of all the businesses that bombard you with their ads begging you to do just that, I actually did a wee bit of legwork and researched them myself. It wasn’t hard. Just go to their ‘Testimonials’ page. Look at the names of all the authors that tout their great work. Copy their names and then go to Amazon and paste that name. Look at the number of reviews they have. Is it less than five? How long has their work been available? Some had NO reviews. If you ask me, I wouldn’t post that authors testimonial on my website. It did more harm than good.
So, what do the pros say? Social Media. Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, AboutMe, MySpace, Blogs, websites…use them all and use them smartly. There is a fine line between promoting yourself and becoming a nuisance. Navigating that fine line is YOUR job. I primarily use Facebook as it helps me to stay in touch with family and friends as well. It also helps me to NETWORK. Something learned way back in my Amway days (yes, I was a distributor, and no…I’m not going to try to sell you soap). Networking helps you to reach people outside your sphere of influence. I reach out to my family members. Say my sisters. They have completely different spheres of influence than I do. When they reach out to their sphere of influence on my behalf and help to promote my work, my sphere of influence grows, as does my debt of gratitude. They help me to reach new people and my readership grows. If one of those new readers enjoys my work enough to share with one more reader…word of mouth.
Another way to promote yourself is to make yourself KNOWN. Advertising. Now, this is where it can get tricky and expensive. Where do you advertise? WHEN do you advertise? What media is best to advertise? I’ve yet to meet one of the pros that has said, “Take out an ad in the Social Section of the New York Times and…” or “Pay for a radio spot on your local radio station”… If they don’t tell me they’ve tried it and it worked, I’m not doing it. It might work for the big name guys with the Big 6 publishing houses pushing people like Stephen King but I have no illusions. Nor do I have that kind of cash flow.
Conventions. Yes, HorrorCons, SciFiCons, MonsterCons. They’re ALL over the place. Don’t believe me? Google it! I did. I was blown away. A friend convinced me that these were the places to be. It gives you the opportunity to rub elbows with others in your trade and let people get to meet you. It gives you the chance to meet and interact in a way that the internet simply does not allow. You can hand out business cards, swag, copies of books, coupons for free downloads…whatever, and you can meet others that you may have only met online before. It’s a whole new experience. For those who aren’t familiar, ‘swag’ = ‘freebie stuff’ like bookmarks, bumper stickers, buttons and whatnot. Take custom t-shirts and let other people advertise FOR you!
There’s a lot to remember in the whole ‘promoting’ game. And truly, there isn’t a right or wrong answer for each person, business or situation. Each one is unique. What works for me may not work for you. What works for you may not work for me. But what works for ‘like situations’ is probably a good bet to work for each other. So, if you are a writer, emulate a writer. If you own a coffee shop, find out what other successful coffee shops have done and emulate those. If you run a flower shop, find out how other more successful flower shops have promoted themselves and see if you can’t employ some of those ideas. Common sense applies.
As for me? I plan to be at the Underground Monster Carnival in Oklahoma City in March 2014. True, there are other Cons before then, but I’m just getting started in this whole ‘promotion’ game. I need to properly prepare in order to be ready. I had hoped to go to Austin to the WizardCon in November, but alas, I couldn’t get my ducks in a row. So, OKC it is.
I even plan to bring some swag to give away.
If you want some…come by and see me.
Until then, just drop by here.