resources: self-marketing secrets

Mad in Pursuit: Living the art life

>>>Continued. This is a log of the process I went (and am going) through for the publication and marketing of "Passion and Peril on the Silk Road" -- one woman's route.

Confession

I don't know anything about selling books by unknown authors. If I did, I'd probably be writing one of those "101 Secrets to Successfully Marketing Your Book" books. John Grisham carted around a trunkload of his first novel to library presentations across the state of Mississippi. That's so not me.

Nudging

Nudging your friends and relatives helps, but, honest to God, there's only so much nudging you can do without feeling like an insurance salesman. And book-reading is such a matter of personal taste. The fact that one of your old colleagues cheerfully bought your book is no guarantee that she will ever read it.

And did I publish a book to be like all those women who host cosmetic-lingerie-kitchenware-jewelry parties or who drop their catalogs on your desk "just in case"? Well, anyway, I got a lot of bad karma built up with acquaintances whose parties and catalogs I studiously ignored.

Finding the Audience

I wrote a book (a) because I had one in me and (b) because I wanted an audience. Making art is about sharing it.

Where are the "influencers"? Where are the reading trend-setters who are always looking for the next intelligent thriller/suspense/crime tale by a new voice, not just the umpteenth book by the decade's best-selling mega-writers?

I have no idea. I don't read too many novels these days, except to catch up on the classics I skipped over in college. That's probably a terrible admission. Aren't authors supposed to be "insiders"?

Finding Other Authors in the Same Boat

Okay, this is easy. There are author and indie publishing groups at Goodreads, on Facebook, and throughout the Ning social networking systems. There are lively discussions about marketing ideas, the usefulness of social networking tools, the latest in video promos, etc. They are supportive at the same time they are mind-boggling. I want to be part of a community (or communities) of creative writers with the indie spirit... I guess. But it's a blur to me still.

"Author Platform"

It's a phrase I keep running across now. Do you have your "author platform" in place?

Facebook, Facebook Fan Page, Linked In profile, Twitter, Blog (feeding other blogs), Author/Book website, video promos... I got 'em all. But I have a sense of all dressed up and no place to go... got my prom dress on, waiting for a date.

What I Like & What I Don't

I love connecting with a real person, who is passionate about books, writing, reading, learning, etc. Getting picked up by a book club always sounds good.

I don't like thinking of people as "potential buyers" -- it reduces the whole artistic endeavor to a commercial transaction. A labor of love turns into a commodity. I'm not naive. Successful artists of all types know how to market themselves. Fans pay the bills. But there is a relationship between author-reader -- something I can't put my finger on yet, something that shouldn't be disrespected.

I don't like the idea of exchanging Key Words on Amazon to boost visibility in their search engine. Maybe it works, but it seems crass. And crassly seductive, like setting up your webpage to get the maximum ad-click$, to hell with content. I don't like these clever games. Again, it feels like it violates... something... I can't put my finger on.

Enough. I'll add to this another day.

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7.13.09

Passion And Peril