–Sondi Warner, Writer/Blogger for Wrought Iron Reads
Being a social media savvy indie author, blogger or any online writer can feel a lot like revisiting high school. There’ll be cheerleaders who comment on your every post with love in all-caps and no fewer than 3 exclamation points. There’ll be drama queens who gossip, geeks who reserve judgment until they’ve studied you awhile, jocks who go to the bat for you, and, of course, there’ll be haters.
By definition, haters are that asinine group of loveless souls who take pleasure in your most embarrassing moments and revel in your downfall. They’re kind of like internet trolls, except trolls are more obvious than the shadowy lurkers skimming your page for a hint you’re doing bad.
In reality, most of us don’t have haters. People are too self-involved to give a flying f-bomb about what someone else in doing in life. But, for the sake of this article, let’s assume you immediately thought of at least one person who fit the bill when you read the title of this piece.
Join me in the gym (continuing the high school analogy) for an assembly on how to effectively dance circles around those fools who think you’ll never make it as a writer.
Let’s pretend you’re announcing a birthday bash. You’re not the most popular kid in school, but definitely want more than just your 2 besties to show up. You want this to be the party of the century. (Stick with me—the party is your book, blog or whatever material you’re trying to push.)
Know in advance, your haters think your shindig will tank royally. They might even be telling others what a dork you are as you hand out the invitations (think: promos), but that’s okay because you’re prepared to claw your way out of obscurity.
In high school, image is everything. You dress and act the part of the teen who has it all together. As a writer, your image or brand isn’t about having the latest sneakers; it’s the quality and professionalism of your work. And, while “Fake it ‘til you make it,’ may have gotten you through puberty, in this industry you have to show and prove you know what you’re doing. That takes delivering content that is above reproach.
So, let’s backtrack from handing out party invites and talk party planning, i.e., making sure your product is ready for the masses.
Book the Venue/Save the Date
I’m sure whatever you’ve written is fantastic. The minute you placed the last period, you were ready to hit publish, post or send and call upon the world to come check out your awesomeness. That’s how you tank royally. Instead, factor in weeks to months to be sure your final draft is really ready.
Set a release date. For indies, it gives us time to drum up interest in our book. For other writers, it allows time for a professional edit and to vet material to beta readers. Obviously, the longer the body of work, the longer this process will take. I don’t expect your blog post to wait several weeks, but I do believe a novella or novel requires sufficient time to be tweaked to perfection.
You don’t have a party to announce until you have a top quality product to deliver. So, as excited as you are to forge blithely ahead and ignore everything I just told you, remember your haters will highlight each typo, plot hole, poorly developed character and formatting error they can find. Plus, they’ll frame your bad reviews. They’ll be scouring your writing with a fine tooth comb, so please waste their time. Don’t let them find anything.
Back to the Invites
With your professionally edited writing and publication date in hand, you can start telling people about that party now. Promoting an event like a birthday bash mirrors promoting your book or blog in that you have to give people a reason to want to show up. Unfortunately, “There’s totally gonna be beer there,” only works for the birthday bash. You’ll have to be more creative to lure readers.
Why not make book trailers or video advertisements? You can also have eye-catching graphics about your work. Both are good for disseminating online. Although it’s vital to keep your social media 90% everything else, about 10% of it should be dedicated to promos. Use your 10% wisely with content people will actually want to share.
Out in the real world, try flyers, postcards and business cards. The goal is to get as many people to the party as possible. Thus, shake your shyness and get out there and meet people. Build a relationship with your local library, where a wealth of resources is at your disposal, including rooms you can secure for book signings. Put flyers and adverts at coffee shops and bistros. Hand out your card to everyone you meet. Essentially, use every opportunity to twirl on your haters.
Right now I get the sense you’re yelling TIME-OUT and reminding me you only get a $50 allowance, and all of the above costs big money. Except, it doesn’t. It costs time.
Using a program you already own or apps you can download free, you can create some amazing graphic designs. I like Canva.com, but your Office Word program works just as well. Use a template and plug in information about your book or blog. Or, keep it sweet and simple and do it yourself. It’s important your graphic is clean, uncluttered and uses attention-grabbing colors. Here’s an example of a postcard I made for my book, Deserving.
I used one image as the background and overlaid it with a text box in which I pasted a description of my book. I included short links so viewers can easily find it in online bookstores. It took me all of five minutes to do this. Although more intricate designs may keep you busy awhile, don’t let yourself be intimidated. You can do this.
For mail-outs and business cards, you can order them for cheaper than printing them yourself. Try here: http://www.vistaprint.com.
Once you have your promotional material—your party invites—ready, market aggressively. The 10% rule will keep your social media presence from being spammy, but it will allow you to advertise daily. You might be whining, “Sondi, I don’t have time to do this every day.” You do.
Another good reason to have a release date set well in advance is it allows you plenty of time to let people know what you have to offer. As you’re reading this, you can open another tab and Tweet a buy link or short link to your latest blog update. While you’re running errands, you can drop off a handful of flyers at the library or hand out business cards. In the case of bloggers, your objective is to constantly keep readers coming back to your place.
Promote, promote, promote! Your haters will show up to your event just to do a headcount. If your numbers are low, they’ll be the first to know…and gloat. Remember:
High Quality X Professional Presentation + Aggressive Marketing = Success
If you miss any part of the equation, you drastically reduce your chances of achieving what you want.
Show Up to the Party
Whew! Planning a party, passing out invitations and getting the venue ready sure is draining! Likewise, all the work that goes into running a blog or writing a book is tiresome. You might be tempted to sit back, put your feet up and wait for success to stroll into your life, but that aint happening.
The single worst mistake you can make is to feel you’ve done enough and can take a break after you’ve garnered interest in your writing. You actually have to go harder. Write something new while you continue to promote. Refresh flyers and promotional material out and about. Take advantage of programs online that allow you to pre-schedule posts. Rally your newfound friends and fans to help spread the message.
Whatever you do, don’t get comfortable. Continue to research and implement new ways to become a better writer and marketer. If you do that, then you’ll always have the necessary tools to write your own success story, to the despair of your haters. So, go ahead. Get ready to party. But there’s one last thing you need to remember:
Shake it off.