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Sunday, May 04, 2008

Work, Work, Work

One of the things that constantly amazes me about writing is how much
work there is beyond writing a story. Trudging into town carrying the
one and onlyliterary masterpiece you will ever complete and then
disappearing into cranky solitude might have worked for J.D. Salinger,
but you can't pull that act anymore. Sure, writers go on and on about
how publishers don't put any money into publicity anymore, and how the
writer is expected to do it all, but any time a publisher does anything
(like pick a cover for the book), the writer is all over the publisher
for getting it wrong.

While it may be a chore, the writer is the best person to reach out to the readers. And if your publisher is on the ball, they make opportunities for you to do so. I'm blessed by a publisher (Torquere) that runs a live journal, a social site, website
interviews, online promo ops, and provides live chat opportunities. Beyond that, since theTorquere stable of writers tends to get along really well, we pass on promo ideas to others, set up chats on other promo sites, and show up to support each other en mass.

But you can't rely on your publisher to do everything. You have to get out
there. You MUST have a website or blog presence and Should have aMySpace or Facebook
page. You should go to chats even when they aren't talking about your book and get to know your community. If you write erotic romance, you should go to the Romantic Times conference every time you have a book to promote. If you have an E-book, you should be part of EPIC and your should go to the conference. You should be on writer's lists and join the web communities that are out there. If you're going to a local convention, offer to take promo stuff for other writers. If someone on a list offers to take you stuff, send it!

People say that publishing is about who you know. Frankly, if your writing sucks, you
could know everyone and it wouldn't do you any good. But if you're a decent mid-list writer, this is what knowing people is going to do for you: you'll have a better shot at being asked to sit on panels at cons, your book might get a mention onsomeone's blog or website, people will show up when you have a chat and lob you questions instead of letting crickets chirp, people will show up at your readings, people will pass on information about publishers and editors.

All of this takes time. Some of it takes money, but the amount of dollar investment
varies. Figure out what you can do for free and do it every chance you can - that's web lists, blogs, etc. Be generous with your writer buddies. Give them your time and support when they're out there trying to whip up interest in a book. Be a beta reader. Pass on calls for submissions. Go to readings. Organize readings. Read blogs and make comments.

This weekend, I spent several hours printing promo material that I'm taking to Saints and Sinners. I have a collection of stuff from other writers that I'm taking with me, and I'll be mailing my stuff to them. I practiced for my reading. I spent time tracking down people I expect to see at Saints and Sinners and sent them e-mails. I worked on a blurb. I read blogs and made comments. I e-mailed writers I know just to catch up. I sent promo information to a promotional collective I've joined (Manlover Romance). I submitted a piece to a publisher. I went over my submissions spread sheet and made sure it was current. I schedueled myslef for a Live Journal hosting day for Torquere. I did blog entries. I read through calls for submission. I worked on Erotica Revealed's MySpace page and tried to friend people who were mentioned in our upcoming reviews. Total time invested: about 12 hours. None of it writing, but all of it part of the business of writing. Do I have to do it? Only if I want people to read what I've written.


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