Monday, March 21, 2011

Self Promotion

Is self promotion worth it?

The question comes up now and then with us writers, especially among those of us deep within the vast herds of the unpublished or the about to be published. Should you be taking yourself away from valuable writing time, valuable product-creation time, in order to possibly maybe/maybe not drum up a handful or two of new readers? Is it worth the time and effort?

The conventional wisdom seems to be: No.

There are those out there that swear by self promotion and all the myriad of potential bounties it will lead to and they have specific cases they will cite and cite and cite ad nauseum to prove this. The thing is, most authors (that I've seen/read/talked to/whatever) who've been there seem to say they got very little benefit out of their efforts and that ultimately, the writing is the most important part and if you're out there banging your drum all day screaming "HEY! ASSHOLE! LOOK OVER HERE, JERKS! AAAAHH! AAAAHH! BOOOOOK!" ...or something to that affect... you're wasting valuable time, time you could be writing. And without that writing, you've got nothing, most especially, you've got nothing to promote. So... get back to writing, right?

And there's the question: How many people do you actually expect to reach? 7? 15? 50? 104? 392? Huh? HUH? How many? And have you ever stopped to consider how many are needed to make an actual SALES difference? Take a moment and ask yourself, how many connections of value do you really have? In the sudden harsh light of those hard numbers, how can the internet version of a one-man band at a street fair come off as anything but a waste of time, money-wise? Isn't promotion better left to professionals? Is it anything but constant work for very little provable gain? After all that, how can it not boil down to the fact that, in the end, it was time that would have been better spent writing?

But there's that nagging little voice...

What's wrong with spreading the word a bit yourself? What can it hurt? And what if it helps? What if that one shameless little self-toot was all the blatt you needed to bring yourself to the world's attention and as a result, open a big time door?

And then there are those success stories, those tantalizing, golden and undeniable success stories, ones that deserve the accolades and success, and even more maddening, ones that most definitely do not. And you gotta wonder, what if a little bit of self promotion was the secret, the last little push needed to ascend the peak. What if? What if? What if? After all, no one wants to miss the boat.

So which is it?

Yay? Nay? Maybe the answer to enjoying the benefits of self promotion lies, much like twinkies, in balance and moderation. Maybe, much like twinkies, too much of it is a bad thing. And maybe, much like twinkies, too little is also a bad thing.

Mmmm... Twinkies...


I'm going to go for the balance.

(With self promotion, not Twinkies... I am just a man, after all, I am no god...)

In the time since finishing Gunslingers of the Apocalypse and starting my blog about my efforts to get published... and comics I like... and some movies too... and the occasional cute girl... and other stuff I like, but I digress, ever since I started all that, I've been signing up at messageboards and finding blogs and websites, places that look like folks that share my particular interests, and thus may enjoy my book, hang out.

My initial plan was to maintain a presence there, and then, when the day came and my book was imminent, I'd spew links all over those places. All over. I was planning on being a ticking info-bomb ready to explode. BOOM! BOOOOOK! LOOK AT MY BOOK! READ IT! LOVE IT! LOOK AT MY BOOK, DAMN YOU! DO IT! DO IT NOW! ...or something to that affect...

The reality however, is that I am way too lazy to bother with most messageboards anymore and frankly, at this point, I lack patience for the types of people who would happily dub themselves as regulars at those kind of places, you know? Ew, right? Anyway, I'm still gonna splatter-link them, eventually... they'll just have less clue it's coming.... Or who I am... Anyway, that's just about it. A little effort that may yield some interest, maybe, but not take up too much time. Other than that, I'm just going to stay open to any other possibilities and should one fall in my lap...

This is The Culture Buzz. It's run by my long time friend John Busbee. He's someone who has been active in the arts community of Des Moines, the greater Iowa area, and beyond (Mark, he did Locations on the Crazies, FYI) and his site is all about the arts and upcoming events and things of interest concerning theatre and movies and literature, what have you.

It's a great resource about the Arts.

And I am an Artist.


Seriously though, John and I have recently done an interview. It's about fifteen minutes or so and it's all about me, my book, trying to get published and all and sundry, basically the trials and tribulations of the process. It'll be available soon on The Culture Buzz as a free download and he and I will be talking periodically as the process continues and I hope you'll take a moment and have a listen. It's not up yet, of course, so keep an eye out, keep checking back. In the meantime, swing on over and peruse all the fun that The Culture Buzz offers. Say hi to John for me

So, toot. I have begun.

Look at me,


Mark Teats said...

Nice post. I go back and forth about the whole self-promotion thing. One of my coworkers self-published his book recently and he seems to be doing a pretty good job of selling copies of his novel. His book is about a farm kid who runs. He's gotten some pretty good reviews in farm magazines (I think he approached them first) and now he's thinking about talking to some local running groups to plug his work. Sounds like a good idea to me--the key is plugging to the right people who might be interested, I think.

Self-promotion of my own: I've been asked to speak at my workplace at one of our "brown bag" meetings this week to talk about what it is to write a book (I'm hoping for an audience of about 20 people.) Figure it will be good practice explaining what my book is about, and am looking forward to it. A few weeks later I've got a pitch session or two with some potential agents--so I'm moving from writing to editing now to trying to convince people to buy my book. Think I enjoy the writing part more. We'll see how all that goes.

Qlaudie said...

You made me laugh aloud several times there, matey.
Great post, and a subject which I go back and forth on, although I'm not at a promotional point yet.
The funny thing - writers often are introverts at heart - thus making the toot blatting (I think we should definitely adopt that phrase) even more excruciating than it is for many other artists.

Ash said...

Excellent post. I was thinking of conference speakers in another industry who blog daily, tweet ceaselessly, leaving us wondering when they get the time to practise their skills.