Recently, there’s been a real change in attitude among some high-profile writers regarding promo.
And I’ll admit that it makes me a little nervous.
I was especially uncomfortable reading a post by J.A. Konrath last month: Konrath's Resolutions For Writers. You’ll have to scroll down to the section entitled 2013 to get to it, but he says:
I have 10,000 followers on Twitter, but I only use it occasionally Facebook? Haven't been on there in eight months. I witnessed the rise and fall of MySpace. I've opted out of Google+ because I saw no benefits. LinkedIn? I can't even remember my password.He goes on to say:
I haven't blogged or Tweeted in months. I've been busy doing what writers should be doing: writing.
And guess what? My sales have remained constant.
Writer Dean Wesley Smith stated in a post in October called The New World of Publishing: Promotion:
Author promotion is worthless (except for selling to magazines or major publishers). Period. Best thing an author can do is write the next story and book.As much as I’d like to think that I think we can completely back off on promo, it just doesn’t feel right to me. Maybe if I were as well-known as Joe, and had as many titles as Dean, I’d feel the same way. It’s very tempting to say we just won’t promote—that there’s no need. There’s just that little issue of discoverability.
When I have thirty books or more available for sale as ebooks, I might feel a bit more tempted to back off on promo because it would just be so darn hard to avoid coming across me on Amazon in the mystery section. But with a dozen books written (a couple of them not even out for a few months), I don’t think forgoing marketing is the answer.
I’d also love to stop doing other things I dislike—housework, yard work, and paying taxes…but I have a feeling it would bite me back later.
And ditching promo—even my own anemic, indirect form of marketing—would bite me back later, too.
I do think that these writers have a point. Dean Wesley Smith put provisos on his ban on promo…he says that publishers promote (you should promote when you have your publisher hat on, as a self-published author) and writers write. So promote like a publisher—not like a writer. He has ideas for doing this in his post.
I think we still, currently, have a responsibility to ourselves and our pocketbooks to do the bare minimum of promo.
What I think the bare-minimum is:
A website. You can probably stop right there as long as the site is updated fairly frequently, has your contact info/email address on it, buy-links, books, etc.
One additional way to find you. This could be (not all of these…just pick what appeals):
A blog that you update at least twice a month (abandoned blogs look kind of bad. At least have a goodbye post and disable comments.)
A Facebook page
A Goodreads presence (Goodreads can be a sort of scary, dark-alley kind of place for writers, so just go in remembering that you may not want to poke around much.)
And…I do think an email address is an absolute necessity for writers. The readers should be able to reach us via email. We can even set up an email address solely for reader contact. Have it be a professional address (like your full name) and use a free email service like gmail.com, etc.
This being said…I’m not as uptight as I used to be about making sure my bases are covered on all the different platforms. If I don’t like a platform (Facebook comes to mind), I’m not going to force myself to post there a couple of times a week. But I will leave it up so that I can be be contacted there by readers or anyone else (very occasionally print media will contact me on Facebook for an interview.)
What are your thoughts on promo for 2013? Are you backing off a little? Or just being more forgiving with yourself for limiting your platforms (like me)? Or are you still going full steam ahead?
Image: PinkLadyBug from MorgueFile