You know, Andy Warhol really wasn’t that great of an artist. Seriously. But man, did he understand publicity! He really knew how to sell himself.
And sadly, that’s the hard truth in today’s world. Why is it that great bands with loads of talent never seem to make it while Lady Gaga gets to perform at the Grammy awards? And why do some authors sell so much more than others who may be better?
It’s all about the publicity.
Now, before you start giving me exceptions and arguments, realize that there is still a minimum that must be met. All the promotional push in the world won’t help you if your work really sucks. But assuming you are at least talented enough to be in the running, you face the hard reality of letting people know about you.
Even published authors with book contracts know this, as you can see from the various interviews I’ve done here on this blog. You need to keep yourself in the Public Eye.
But, like all advertising, you should target your audience appropriately. Buying an ad in Doll Collector Magazine probably won’t help you sell your steampunk novel.
In the last few years, Facebook has become the place for meeting with potential readers directly. (It’s not the only place, but it certainly is the largest and the subject of this post.) Besides being a great way to meet old friends and keep in touch with them, it’s a wonderful tool for promotion. I love it! I’ve been able to keep up with my favorite authors — who actually comment back! — in a way that would have been impossible just three years ago. And they love being able to interact directly with their fans and let them know what they can look forward to.
I’ve placed links on my web page to my Facebook page, mentioned it in interviews and biographies at science fiction conventions I attend as a guest, and included it in my “About the Author” note in the back of my latest novel. I’ve befriended many people who I don’t actually know because of this, and that’s exactly what I want!
This comes with risks, though, because you want to balance the line between reasonable self-promotion and acting like a constant advertisement. Further, you have to not get too controversial and anger people over things that have nothing to do with your writing.
I’ve had this problem a few times, indeed. My political views might be just fine with friends, but people who only care about my books may not like reading my views on Republicans or gay marriage. And I’ve seen a big problem with a few other people I’ve been friends with — one woman seemed to only post about her job with Amway, and it was clear that the only purpose she had on Facebook was in making sales. I’ve put her on “ignore.”
Anyway, recently I was advised that the thing to do is to start a Facebook “fan” page where I would only post about writing, leaving all the other stuff for my personal page. I had hesitated doing so previously because of two things: First, it seemed kind of egotistical. Creating a “fan” page for yourself? Geez! Second, I was worried that I’d get only a dozen people joining and then I’d look really foolish.
“Pretend that instead of it being called a ‘fan’ page that it’s a ‘professional’ page,” I was told. “Besides, when you’re shopping your next book to agents and editors, they’ll look for things like this.” Well, that did it.
So I started one a few days ago, and fortunately I already have over 100 members. I’m only posting information about my books, personal appearances, and what I’m working on, and trying to not post too often so as not to appear to be spamming.
But still I feel slightly uncomfortable about the whole thing. I’m not some big name author; I have a few books with a small publishing house. But apparently, if I want to ever be more than just that, I need to think bigger and I need to constantly promote myself.
So please come join! I look forward to seeing you there.