It seems my poet friends and I are always saying this-- We just want to write, we don't want to market our book.
We speak of earlier times, when writers just wrote and the press or publishing company did all the work promoting them. There were big book tours with nice hotels set up by the press and now we're going someplace to read and sleeping on someone's couch, a reading we set up ourselves or were asked to do.
Part of the deal here is-- we kind of feel robbed. We want to live the life where we wake up, get a cup of coffee and write. Around 2 pm, the mail carrier the mail carrier arrives with our tickets to Paris, a reading at Shakespeare & Co. set up by our press. We smile knowing there will be announcements sent out without our help, ads in the right magazines, and all of it taken care of, then we return to our work.
Wait, did that ever happen?
Life has changed so much in the last fifteen years. All jobs have gone through some changes with the economy, with new technology, with the internet, with the busier we've gotten, with everything.
Doctors are walking around with iPads documenting our health. Celebrities are being photographed without makeup buying their toilet paper. Clothing designers are on television shows and selling their clothes at Target. Musicians are living their tour schedule by the Ticketmaster empire. Ferry workers & toll operators are losing their jobs to electronic ticket-takers. Cashiers not only have to ask you if you paper or plastic, but also have to ask you if you want to donate a $1 to some charity, call you by your mispronounced last name, suggest the $1 special of ChexMix, then tell you how much you saved while the receipt is printing out extra coupons we earned that they also have to tell you about.
Everyone's jobs have changed. Some for the good. Some for the bad. But I bet everyone can look back and see what they liked about it before.
One excellent thing about being a writer or poet or artist today is you have this HUGE connection to other regions that other writers NEVER had. You have the internet. You have an audience who can find you that isn't just in your city. There is a potential audience at your fingertips.
And what's best, especially for introverts--You can sell books without leaving your home!
As someone who hates to go out, this is fantastic. You can buy my book from your house, I can sign it at my house to you, and mail it directly to your house. Look, none of us had to walk any farther than the mailbox! Thank you PayPal!
Yes, the interesting thing about being a writer, poet, or artist is that many of us are introverted or have strong introverted tendencies. We live in our heads. We like our alone time.
Sometimes it's hard for us to meet strangers. Sometimes we feel overwhelmed at large events. Some of us can do only X number of social events before locking the door, pulling the covers over our head and grabbing a book to read. Sometimes it's hard to be the one suggesting that we bring attention our way, to us, to our book, to what we're up to.
But this is part of the job now as a writer, poet, and artist. It's not the main part, which is writing, but it's part of the job.
The nurturing part of me wants to tell you-- it's okay, just take it slow, everything will be okay.
The tough love part of me wants to say-- get over it, it's part of the job.
And the author part of myself wants to say-- You can do this. And it's actually not too hard.
So for Lesson One on Marketing for Introverts, here is the minimum list social networks & websites you need to be part of to market your work--
1) Facebook (either a public page, a personal acct, or both). If you have a personal acct, but not a page, you will most likely have to be friends with "strangers" or allow your personal account to have *subscribers.* This means that your public posts (which you can change in the settings when you post your status, will also show up on their newsfeed).
2) Linked In (this is less for marketing your book, but making sure you have a professional profile and being aware of what paying jobs are out there. As poets, we make most of our money from teaching rather than poeting.)
3) Have your own webpage where you can sell books online (Make sure you have a PayPal account!) --This should really be #1 though. It's the MOST important thing you should have of all. (I have a couple posts about setting up your homepage/personal webpage that you can read here and here.)
Now, that's the minimum. Honestly, you should probably choose one or two of the list below if you really want to really do a good job making sure people know about your book (really, that's actually what marketing/promoting is--making sure readers know about your book. It's their choice if they buy it, but do your part so they know it's available.)
Once you get those three taken care of, here are others I also recommend:
Amazon Author Central (Important if you are selling books on Amazon, which will probably be where most of your books are sold from, especially if you're a poet.)
Having a blog (blogger or word press seem to be the best free options)
And if you actually find this stuff fun, you can also do--
Tumblr.com (I deleted my Tumblr account because Tumblr was becoming well, kind of porny, but I know other writers use it to keep images/ideas for stories and poems, so that's an idea too.)
She Writes (for women authors)
The great news is YOU get to choose which of these you do. All of this is your choice.
And as writers, I know we LOVE to procrastinate on our writing, so you get to be on Facebook, on Twitter, AND you can say it's part of your job! (Oh, you can't just be lurking though, that's not part of the job, you have to be interacting.)
If any of this scares you, here's a few things to realize:
1) You do NOT need to be on social network sites or online DAILY.
2) You do NOT need to believe your life needs to revolve around social networking and that you need to share *anything* that you're not comfortable with.
3) You do NOT need to feel afraid of "putting too much out there" because our world, lives, social lives (online & off) are SO busy, no one is even noticing anyway.
4) Wine & chocolate helps. I'm serious. Ignore "social networking" or "promoting your book" until 5 pm then get a glass of good wine, your favorite chocolate (or dessert), get on your computer and then just have fun with it-- Connect with a writer you've always wanted to connect with on Facebook. Respond to someone's tweets. Mention your book on Facebook. Email someone who has a blog and ask if they'd mention your book or do a giveaway for you.
Just pretend you're at a fun cocktail party where you get to choose who you want to be there.
Just pretend it's an online book launch and you get to choose who's invited.
Just pretend you're an author and you're promoting your work (oh wait, congratulations-- you are!)
You can make this part of being a writer a big drag, or just have fun with it. You wrote your book so others would read it, so you could be part of the literary conversation. Allow your work to do what it's supposed to do-- get read!
Because we now have so many tools literally at our fingertips-- we can make or break our own writing life, people can learn about our work, or not. And much of this depends on ourselves and what we put into it and put out into the world. But it can be fun, or less painful than we make it out to be.
You can play on the internet all day and it's exactly what you're supposed to be doing. Getting your name, your book, your project out there.
So hang out in your PJs and enjoy being an author. See, it's not that bad...
I'll post more about ways to make it fun in Lesson Two, as well as the benefits of friends...
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