Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Are You Bombarded with Plugs?

Recently on a writer’s loop, a social networker aired his frustration with being bombarded with plugs of various kinds. It is very true that constant promo in your face can be cumbersome. Many hailed the observation. There were also just as many who differed. We have the solution.

In efforts to be fair, the loop moderator suggested that perhaps some rules be ordained. Some suggestions thrown out there were: promo should take place on only one day a week, or the subject field might have a key word like blog or book release in it, and so forth.

Authors in general are terrible at marketing/promotion. When I meet a writer new to the business, they usually tell me about their book and its status—concept, in progress, or finished. Never have I run into one of these people and they say, “To hell with a book. I want to wear a game show host smile, be in commercials and tap dance for some sales.” Writers want to tell a story or offer some insightful philosophy to the world. This is our key focus.

And that is the root of the problem.

At some point, the author who is close to publication or with the actual deal in her hot little hands begins to peel back layers of this thing called marketing. Suddenly the author is really in the business end of all this, thinking: gee, my publishing company certainly harps that promo stuff a lot.

Long before their proximity to success, the author is inundated with advice that they must learn something about marketing from just about every writer’s organization out there. RMFW, Pikes Peak, Mystery Writers, RWA—they all do it because agents, editors, and accomplished bestselling authors visit their conferences and sing the song year after year. The machine tells you go go go. Get out there and believe in your book. Be pushy.

But on the aforementioned loop, the machine is sputtering like its fuel is watered down. How can they now try to put a strangle hold on plugs after telling us to do so? Delicious irony. Sounds a lot like the government.

Again the problem lies with pre-published writers because even after all the persuasion to embrace marketing, it’s still daunting for them to understand how much work it takes to get someone to notice their work. You think it’s tough to snag the attention of an editor or agent? Try the public.

Because we’re here to help authors and offer solutions, we’ve invited Susan Mitchell, commercial producer, to shed some light on what a mammoth undertaking promotion is. Those articles will begin in August.

The curators of Chiseled in Rock cannot embrace possible restrictions to promotion, especially of blogs, for a slew of reasons, but these are the most poignant:

As much as we try to try to plan weekly and even monthly on the Rock (For June, we’re going to start posting a magazine cover that will spotlight the features of the coming weeks) we still have cool stuff that falls in our lap and should be shared on the dime. If an editor from say…Penguin…who is flying in for our conference…drops me a line and says she’d love to take comments on the blog three days away, then I have to get the word out pronto and I can’t follow the rules of a ‘promo day’.

We will not put terms on our bulletins stating “blog” or any other word that might cause a looper to hit delete. Whether it’s a novel, a birthday card, a blog, or an office memo, my job is to pique your curiosity and make you want to read. Kind of like in journalism. Talk about bombardment, think about how many times a day a TV station plugs what they’re going to broadcast just on the 6 and 10 news. Fodder for when Susan joins us in a few weeks.

***This just in as of 3:30 PM, In an interview scheduled for next month with Erika Kahn Imranyi Sr. Editor at Mira and guest for our Gold Conference in September, she answered a question about what Harlequin does to market an author and ended the answer with this: "An author’s work is only just beginning when he finishes writing the book."***
Gusto Dave Jackson is an urban fantasy and YA steampunk western author represented by the Belcastro Agency.


Patricia Stoltey said...

Most excellent post, Dave. You've zeroed in on the author's conundrum and now offer to lead us out of the wilderness. I'll be looking forward to Susan's articles and the interview with Erika.

Karen Duvall said...

There appears to be a fine line between sharing news and promoting ones self. If a person varies posts to the loop with other items of interest to members rather than a constant flow of self-aggrandizing, I think that would be a fair solution. That is, if anyone self-aggrandizes, and I haven't noticed that happening.

Great blog, Dave, with some excellent points. If RMFW can't support its members in all areas of the writing life, we risk losing valuable members.

At least everyone is aware now that some members don't appreciate blog announcements and book signings. Point taken. :) Diversity is a good thing.

Anonymous said...

Great post, Dave! No Blog Burning!

Anonymous said...

Great post, Dave! No Blog Burning!