INTRODUCING ELLOWRITES COLUMNS!
Articles by Ellovians
Ellowrites is very pleased to announce a new regular feature: Ellowrites Columns!
Selected writers will contribute articles about a variety of subjects. If you are interested in having a column, contact me through my Collab button @tvansantana.
Here is our maiden voyage ...
Capitalize That I: Three Tips to Promote Your Writing By Yourself
by Allen Blair @tinpoet
1. Don't Be A 'We' When It's Just You.
Ask a room of authors if they like writing their own bios. I'd bet very few, if any, hands would go up. More than once, I've been asked for a bio before speaking at an event or, most recently, when I submitted a short story for publication. I wasn’t ready. Nobody's ever ready to tout themselves. But, it can be less painful than you think.
First, just accept the fact you'll have to say things like, "I'm a writer. I wrote this. I can string 50,000 words together into something cool and great. I have a book." Repeat that last one standing in front of a mirror. Have a bag handy for hyperventilation emergencies.
Seriously, that first-person approach will be difficult. And the challenge is to avoid "sounding" arrogant while finding the right way to see yourself and promote yourself. So, do what a writer does, sketch a character study. List what you're best at, make some affirmations, do it in drafts, and ask others what they think to gain some honest feedback.
Most importantly, write out the questions you think someone might have when they meet you. You could pretend to be a reader (aren't we all?) and answer that reader’s questions. That's the crux of an article on writing about yourself by Thursday Bram, co-founder of EnhancedFreelance.com over at WriteToDone.
It also doesn't hurt to have fun with it or tell whimsical facts about yourself, like "my cat Buzz frequently helps me and wants to write his own bestseller one day." Those things help make you more authentic.
Finally, read some book jackets. That might be all the training ground you need.
2. Start a Posse.
In the Old West–or western movies and books at least–the outlaws were almost always pursued by a posse, a like-minded gathering of individuals totally committed to one goal and to the sheriff. So, pretend you're the sheriff and start recruiting a posse. That is, people who like your writing and will stay faithful to you and tell your story to their friends and hundreds of others.
The goal here is free publicity. Imagine if you gave two ebooks or two hard copies to all your friends and said, "Share, please!" You're aiming to cultivate readers–and this is important–one by one. That's also the advice of author Linda Gillard, a member of the Alliance of Independent Authors, who penned a nice set of marketing ideas over at the ALLi Self Publishing Advice Center. Here are a few to get you started:
- Do free talks
- Donate books to groups concerned with issues you raise
- Directly ask friends and readers to review your books on major websites or blogs
- Have promo postcards made. Here's a gem about postcards from Gillard: "I handed mine out to nurses on my cancer surgery ward and to the ambulance men when I was knocked down by a motor bike." [Ed. Bookmarks are great, too.]
Self-promotion is personal, people. Allies can help us along the path by joining and following on Ello, Facebook, Twitter, a hundred other social media and websites, so think about creating profiles everywhere to connect with them. Search out how to start an author's blog or website, because it's true: if your name is Googable, it will help your marketing.
Now get out there, sheriff, and round up your posse!
3. What's in a name?
As a writer, even if you have a great presence and a stellar posse, if the content's not there, then marketing can fall flat. Think of a great snack food company who has fantastic public relations campaigns with wonderfully funny Super Bowl ads, yet their chips taste awful. Fortunately for us, there are hundreds of websites to teach us how to make our writing taste good. Right here on Ello, we have @kseniaanske and @oosuzieq, both of whom regularly post on improving our flavor.
So, I'm going to focus on a writing tip we don't often talk about and might take for granted: The name of your work. The title.
In novels, or short stories, or whatever you write, the title’s the business card, the window dressing, the bait on the fishhook. Despite what the PR magazines say, we don't buy things on Amazon based on reviews all the time. Yeah, they help, but it's the look and feel, the name, that attracts us most. It’s first impressions, folks.
Essentially, we must choose an argument, i.e., what our book is about, then find a way to get that message across quickly and succinctly.
Try this: start with one sentence, and work your way back to a few words. Ask friends to choose between four or five of your best titles. Run it through polling here, on Twitter, or pay for a service like PickFu.
In the end, a good book title needs to be "one part intrigue, one part description," as writer Jeff Goins argues on his blog post titled, The Most Important Marketing Decision You'll Make As An Author. There's a ton of stuff to digest there, including a fascinating account of how he titled his own book. I suggest you check it out.
Allen Blair @tinpoet writes features on public relations and the profession of writing. Look for future articles posted through @ellowrites.