Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Getting the Word out There



It's no big secret. I'm not fond of critiques. Last April I wrote a post called Critique Anxiety. This was about presenting an excerpt from my manuscript for a workshop. That was the same manuscript that I almost gave up on and wrote yet another post about my loathing of rejection called Query Burn Out. While it seemed to me that I was bathing in rejections, eventually I got a publishing deal for my debut work of fiction.

Now that the book will be published I have gone about setting up a blog tour or even hiring a publicist. I reached out to a publicist and unexpectedly she critiqued my online presence. Signing up for a critique or asking for one through your actions, such as submitting work for review, is one thing. When they come out of the blue, it's quite another.

Unbeknownst to me, the publicity firm combed through my social media. Then they reported back what they thought I needed to do to make it better. This didn't come quite as a total surprise. The fiction publisher has professional readers who reviewed my author platform. Unfortunately, they too thought mine needed work. They went so far as to say I don't have much of a presence as an author in social media, though klout.com tells a different story. Thankfully, the publicist gave specific recommendations. When I hear these sorts of things I tend to go into hyper-drive. Being the perfectionist that I am as a Virgo, I go above and beyond what is suggested.

You know that I have this blog. It is here that I post about the developments around my books, and writing activities along with the numerous topics explored. So there's that. I thought I was doing a decent job on twitter too. At first I'd neglect it for months and knew nothing of hashtags. More recently I have been steadily posting, hashtags and all. In the process I've gone from 200 to over 500 followers in just a few months. I've even been included in several of the twitter-generated newspapers called paper.Li. I've always done pretty well on LinkedIn. I find it to be professional and satisfying in that way. I soon found out it is not something these social media maven types find of interest. There is also my website, which I recently revamped. Still, the parties concerned were unimpressed. Was it my lack of a public Facebook page, I had begun to wonder. Oh well. To me Facebook was for family, friends and a few associates and that was that.

Back to the recommendations specific to writers. The publicist thought I needed to amp up my activities on Amazon.com. I knew that one had been terribly neglected. What do authors and insecure writers find there? Ratings and reviews. Ugh! Nevertheless, I went there and started adding things like photographs and upcoming events. I even updated my bio. Perhaps I was on to something.

The folks I mentioned went on to criticize my lack of a Library Thing Author Page. What the heck is Library Thing I wondered? Once I found out I created one. I guess it couldn't hurt. Then too there was the lack of a Goodreads author page. Was there no end to these "author pages" online I started to ask. Really though, I don't want to know so please don't tell me if you do. Populating and refreshing these pages started last week around this time and I'm not finished yet.



My most recent excursions have been to my publishers websites. There I found once again how I was being represented was out of date. With two books published by Llewellyn Worldwide, at least there I could kill two birds with one stone. To my amazement I found out that since the last time I'd checked, which admittedly was four years ago, these publishers now post video footage of their author's presentations and upcoming events. Surely there must be an end in sight for my online presence work but I trudged on. I contacted Red Wheel Weiser/Hampton Roads and Chicago Review Press to request certain updates and additions. Now, some of these publishers were more helpful than others. I didn't even know the correct person to contact. Whatever. I'm not going to use this space to out them.

The last thing I set out to do was create a Facebook Like Page. I have mentioned previously I didn't want to have a public page on Facebook. For the insecure writer, what could be more humiliating than starting up such a page and no one showing that they liked it. What a ridiculous notion in the first place, I sulked. Late last Friday night, I relented and started one anyway, mostly to quiet down my social media critics. To my amazement people have shown that they like what is there. Almost overnight I had 50 likes.



Granted this is one of my longer posts and I'm not typically given to doing such a thing to my readers. There may be some wisdom here for other insecure writers in IWSG and elsewhere. Staying active online, be it through contributing articles, blogging, publishing, chatting, updating existing stuff, joining groups--whatever, may well have a positive outcome. Burying your head in the sand might be comforting but it does little to get the word out about what you're doing, would like to do or have done.


24 comments:

  1. It sounds like you got some good advice from your publicist. Sometimes critiques can be really helpful.

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    1. Nana I did get advice but she didn't become my publicist. Way too expensive for me. I'm still shopping. Her critique however, as you said, was very helpful to my journey.

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  2. There is a wealth of great information here. Thank you for sharing. When/if the time comes that I need to develop publicity, I'll be woefully behind.

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    1. All things in time. I've been at this since 1999 and am just finding this stuff out and plugging myself in. I'd bet that when the time is right for you it won't be a problem.

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  3. I found this post extremely interesting. I'd be curious to know what a group of social media critics would tell me about my online presence.

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    1. Thanks so much Karen! In terms of social media critiques, you've made it with all of your books, so what does it matter what they think?

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  4. When I first started toward publication and found out I needed to do all these things, I was stubborn for a long time, firmly believing I didn't need a blog or FB page until I was published. I was wrong. It's what agents, editors, and everyone looks for. You did a great job updating your presence in all of these places. I'm not on Twitter, LinkedIn, or Library Thing. I suppose I pick and choose the ones best for me.

    I just liked your FB page. :)

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    1. Chrys thanks so much for liking my FB page. It's great to be able to be choosy. Being involved with lots of different social platforms can wear you out. My work has a relatively small audience so I try to hit as many as readers as I can through various sources of social media. So true what you said about online presence being what people involved with publishing seek as a way of evaluating us. I'm both happy and a bit chagrined that I'm having this 'ah ha' moment more than a decade into my writing career.

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  5. woo-hooo congratulations !!! it all seems overwhelming right now, but you'll get the hang of it and who knows, maybe you'll even get to enjoy it ! :-)

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    1. E.E. thanks for the encouragement. I do look forward to getting to that stage.

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  6. You're making me tired. LOL. I could definitely amp up my online presence. I do what I can, but my day job totally cuts into everything else I actually want to do. Good luck with your endeavors, Stephanie!

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    1. Tired? You and me both. Thanks for stopping in and for wishing me luck!

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  7. Thanks so much for this post! I'm in a similar point of career as you right now, and I'll happily try and follow some of the advice you got from your publicist!

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    1. Samantha, I'm so glad you find this post useful. I guess I could have saved myself a lot of time if I either put my thinking cap on, as they use to say or had read a similar post. I didn't end of working with that particular publicist. Publicists make a big deal about how they get to pick and choose who they work with but so do we as authors.

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  8. I am tired just reading this. I can't even imagine the frustration of a critique of your social media that you didn't ask for, yet the suggestions all sound positive, if never-ending.

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    1. So true Rhonda. I'm simply exhausted as well. The work of developing a career as a writer never ends. Mine is a cautionary tale suggesting that it's not a good idea to fall asleep at the wheel.

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  9. Like Rhonda Albom, I feel tired reading this too! Critique is painful for me when solicited, but when it pounces unexpectedly... Ouch! I am trying to 'build my platform' right now (sigh) and I am finding it very difficult. All the blogging and tweeting takes me away from my writing and the multi tasking of it all fries my brain and leaves me good for nothing.

    Thank you so much for sharing this experience and the critique you received for us all to benefit from.

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  10. HJ, you're more than welcome. Sorry to make you feel tired. I agree with your sentiments. Writing needs to come first.

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  11. Oh, my goodness, Stephanie. So much social media socializing to be done, and here we are writing (the nerve!), worrying about character development and such. :) I really appreciate this post. I read every word, some sentences twice. So much to learn. We think we know what we're doing as far as marketing, until someone else says, no way. But this is very informative. I have an FB page and am on twitter, but keeping up with all the madness is like a full time job. Thanks so much for this post. I made note of a few sites you mentioned I've never heard of. Sounds like you're on the right path.

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  12. Silvia, it means a lot to me that you found what I posted so useful. Now, let me search around for you online and see how we can further connect using all this social media madness to our own ends.

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  13. If I ever try to promote any work again, I suppose I'll have to go back to doing this sort of thing. At this point, I have a NO CON-CRIT request that appears in the comment area on the creative blogs that I'm involved with, the reason being that we (the team members) have no desire to feel like we're back in high school English class.
    Being something of a curmudgeon, I do not apologize for the length of my posts. If people think it's too long, they can stop reading it and go do something else.
    http://thecheesewhines.wordpress.com/2014/08/06/insecure-writer-whinge-august-2014-poison-heart/

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  14. Cara, it's good to say what you think. A while back I did this post on that subject: http://stephanierosebirdstudio.blogspot.com/2014/04/saying-no-to-being-yes-woman.html
    and this:
    http://stephanierosebirdstudio.blogspot.com/2014/04/speaking-your-truth.html

    I apologized to my readers b/c they know my style and that's why most of them are here. It's not my way to write long posts and I don't enjoy reading them. I'll be sure to check out your blog. Thanks for stopping by.

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  15. I agree. It's very important to be active in the social media. But we have to prioritize; there are just too many venues to be active in. So I review books on Amazon, but am not active on Goodreads. I actively blog and do facebook, but not so for Twitter and LinkedIn. Then there's my own writing. Oy.

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    1. I know just what you mean. I wasn't active on any of the book sites. I updated recently though because I have new books coming out and upcoming events that people might be interested in. There are some nice opportunities on Goodreads now for authors to use to take better control of their profile. Those spaces for authors didn't use to exist on there. I appreciate that they did that. I'm going to stop over to your blog and check out your posts. Thanks for stopping by.

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