Thursday, March 4, 2010

Guest Blog, Sort Of

It's not plagiarism if it's copied with permission, which this is. Also, the column inches in the daily rag are mine alone, so I guard them with near-psychotic jealousy.

Something every writer in every area should nail to the back of their head, lifted from a writer's forum:

"I learned something from my first book that few other authors seem to take to heart, but should: How very important marketing is, for the financial security and survival of all concerned.

The Knucklebook has sold only a few thousand copies, but I've learned a few fun and important things from the experience:

There is a built-in audience--in many cases--for a non-fiction work. Don't count on retiring on it--because it's probably not nearly as big as you think or hope.

If you really enjoy your baby, go talk about it. Arranging a newspaper interview or book signing is brutally simple, fun, and they generally go well. Don't expect your publisher to help, or execute that end well.

Whether the industry is rolling in real cash or staggering towards the next nickel, there are fun and savvy ways to promote your book and keep getting it out to interested eyes. And the way it's changing now, authors who are on the cutting edge of marketing are the ones who will at least enjoy the business, if not out-earn the competition... and maybe do it for a day job. While I won't do Twitter (because it's too much "all about me and my drivel"), and I find Facebook hideous and silly when it comes to genuinely connecting with readers, I do have a website and message board devoted to the subject of my book, as well as a website expressly for the book. On the book's website, I have sample links to three ideas I'm surprised nobody else is working: a free downloadable personalized note, a personalized sound clip, and a personalized video clip. I'm working with my publisher to provide these either to ebook purchasers, or those who find the link on my publisher's website.

Blog? I consider the subject's website a blog of sorts, but the main use of it is a gateway for newbies to learn about the subject, and a message board for anyone to leave their ramblings for all the world. I do have an interesting take on an actual blog, however: the main character of my novel-to-be is a writer, and I think it's amusing--if not a potential breakthrough way to connect with readers if the blog is "authored" by the main character.

Give your book long-term legs in some way. Heck, why not make it commercial? Anything wrong with profit, or potential profit from generating long-term interest in it? I'm currently working with a producer on a documentary on the subject, and I'm a co-writer of a screenplay based quite loosely on the book's subject matter. This may kick up some later sales. Quit thinking of it as work and think of it as cool fun, and you'll go further than the lazy and nervous authors who want to grab the maximum advance, then flee for the hills in terror. J.D. Salinger is quite dead, now, in case you haven't checked the news.

The real money may be in novels. You may not make it, however, if your sweat-and-blood-stained creation is yet another non-seller about vampires, the Sword of Omigod, or a little girl and her fuzzy bunny in 12th century Antarctica."

It's one thing to successfully rein in skittish blog controls, as I have obviously failed to do. It's something else entirely to actively throw effort into spewing in text form just to do so. Any writer who calls themselves one writes for others, and writes so as not to bore, insult, or disrespect. It's a calling and a duty, servitude to the readers, and it should be executed with all intellect applicable. Pleasing others is the essence of marketing. With any kind of luck, skill, or planning, money may follow. If nothing else, it's your best chance. And you'd better always enjoy knocking those words out in a way that you sense will please others.

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