Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Author Self Promotion: 6 Things to Remember



It is one of the ironies of the writing life; most writers are introverts who must morph into extroverts when it comes time to promote their wares. This isn’t just about changing hats, it’s more like changing skin. Keep in mind though…(and in no particular order)

1. There’s a slim (very slim) line between effective self-promotion and annoying pushiness. Tweeting ‘Buy My Book’ every two hours is the latter.

2. Building a writing platform takes time - in every sense of the word.
Do you need a writing platform? Yes.  However, before you strap on that tool belt, remember that the time you need to write that blog post, compose that tumblr presentation, tweet and retweet, snap that photo for sharing on Instagram, and update your Facebook and Goodreads page, can devour a great deal of the day. This can prove somewhat problematic if you also have a word count to produce and you’re not one for working into the wee hours of the morning. There's also the very real danger of falling down the rabbit hole - i.e. wandering around the internet for no reason other than 'ohhh, look at that'.  But once you've constructed that platform...remember: there is no secret formula to building a following. It simply takes time. Unfortunate but true.  Writing a post which goes viral isn't a bad start. Viral in this case is a good thing.

3. Accept that there is only so much you can control. 
This is hard. This is very hard. You can self promote with the skill of DaVinci, but luck plays a part. Your post/picture/tweet needs to be seen by the Right People. It needs to Go Viral. Viral, in this case is a good thing.

4. You do not live or die with your Klout score. 
However, if you don’t even know what this is, then I’d suggest you might have a bit to learn about social media.

5. Social media is just that - social.
You need to talk to people on Twitter, Facebook, whatever. A one note message of ‘Buy My Book Because It’s Tremendous’ will turn everyone off. Even your mother. And that’ll sting.

6. What works? Almost always, making people laugh. 
My post Before You Write went viral over on tumblr. However only writing posts which are funny isn’t funny for long. See? Comedy is a serious business. Change it up occasionally. Pictures of penguins are good. Just a suggestion.

Oh - and I write murder mystery games and host murder mystery events. My newest game, The Great British Bump Off takes place during a baking competition. If you’ve ever watched The Great British Bake Off on the BBC or as it’s called on PBS, The Great British Baking Show you’ll know the setting. If you want me to write a game just for you, I can do that. Get in touch!


Elspeth Futcher is an author and playwright. Her murder mystery games A Fatal Fairy Tale, Deadly Ever After and Curiouser and Curiouser are among the top-selling mystery games on the Internet. All thirteen of her murder mystery games and two audience-interactive plays are published by host-party.com. Her game, Once Upon a Murder, is available and published by Red Herring Games. Her 'writing sheep' are a continuing feature in the European writers' magazine Elias. Connect with her on Twitter at @elspethwrites or on Facebook at Elspeth Futcher, Author.

18 comments :

  1. Very good advice, Elspeth. And you did a marvelous job promoting your games without whupping us over the head. :-)

    I did cringe about the rabbit hole. Been in a few too many myself.

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    1. Thanks, Marianne. I still fall down that rabbit hole.

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  2. Sadly, a number of authors on Facebook who need to see this never will. Beating us over the head about the award winning book each day or slapping something up on the same book every few hours just does not work.

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    1. It does not. And...I'll link this post to Facebook because you never know!

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  3. Let's see...thin-line walking (not to be confused with tightrope walking, although their are some striking similarities -- like falling on your face or some other tender portion of the anatomy), platform building, lack of control, Klout score, socializing, becoming a comedienne. Wow! This is a lot of stepping outside the comfort zone for a dedicated introvert. Apparently, waiting for a miracle to send our "post/picture/tweet" viral could be a colossal waste of time; therefore, we must cover ourselves in extrovert clothing and charge into the promotion game -- armed with your six very important "weapons," of course. BSP, here I come. (Please ignore my shaking image.)

    Seriously, Elspeth, this is a great post and very pertinent advice. Thanks for sharing. :-)

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    1. I never said it was easy! I don't find it easy!

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    2. It really boils down to a choice for us introverts, I think. Which is more important: getting our books out to the readers who will enjoy them or writing away in our comfortable corner because we want to be an author and then shooting down any possibility of reaching potential readers because we don't want to take the next step, which is marketing? And you're so right -- it isn't easy at all. However, the rewards are so worth the effort.

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    3. You're right, Linda - it IS a choice. Writers need to ask themselves if they are writing for themselves - for the sheer joy or release of writing - or for others - as in, I want other people to read my work. Both choices are valid, but the latter requires a different outlook.

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  4. What I love about this post is the way it puts promotion into perspective. It is a part of what we do, and whether we like or not, we writers need to let people know about our work if we want ti read. But what really makes a writer is not how many hits there are on her or his website. It's the quality of what we do.

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  5. It's important to remember that if you hate doing any of these things, it'll come across. Pick a few you're happy and comfortable with and spend your time there. Remember the emphasis on social media is SOCIAL. It's a play to have fun. On the marketing side, you want people to visit your website, which should be where they see your books and how wonderful they are.

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  6. Accepting I couldn't control a lot of things was a big step for me in taking some stress out of the process.

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  7. The best way to get me, as a reader, to look at and perhaps buy your book, is to make your logline or synopsis intriguing. That's the part that makes me really consider it.

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    1. I think that's true for many people, Diana. It's certainly true for me!

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  8. Good post, Elspeth! I pick more books from reader recommendations (especially from my book-loving cousins) than any other way. Overselling ourselves just makes us annoying.

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    1. I hope your cousins aren't loving their books in an inappropriate manner. lol. Seriously though, Pat, I think many of us choose our next read from personal recommendations. Overselling never works. Not on annoying commercials, not on the internet, not in person.

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The Blood-Red Pencil is a blog focusing on editing and writing advice. Some of our contributors are editors, some are authors, and some are writing sheep. Yes, sheep.

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