Friday, February 3, 2012

Playbook for Self-Promotion: The Full Court Press

by Mindy McGinnis

Last month I talked to you about my little basketball players, the self-effacing ones who would rather apologize than box someone out. Some writers aren't comfortable being aggressive about promoting themselves, and there's absolutely nothing wrong with that. For tips on promotion for introverts, check out my earlier post, as well as fellow contributer J. Lea Lopez's advice.

Today I want to talk to you about the full court press of self-promotion, getting up in their faces and waving your arms around so they can't NOT see you. Keep in mind, even when you choose to take the more aggressive approach, moderation is key. If you send 250 tweets in one day that are all links to your blog / book / or headshot of you looking *really* attractive, the only thing you're going to do is irritate people. You're like the chick who screams, "Ball, Ball, Ball, Ball," when she's trying to stop the offense from throwing in-bounds. It might draw attention to her, but she also looks like an ass.

Moderation is key, my friends. In all things. For more tips on how not to be an ass, check out fellow FTWA'er Pete Morin's PSA on Spam.

That being said—I'm going to talk to you like a coach now, so be prepared to get your feathers ruffled in the locker room, and remember that the aim is to make you a better player, not insult you personally. The standard excuses are in italics, my retort in bold, then follows a parenthetical reason why I'm quite possibly wrong. I had a coach once who made no bones about when a loss was on his head rather than ours, and I've always respected that.

1) Blog. Just do it. What if I don't have any followers and it looks like I'm unpopular? If you're scared of rejection, this isn't the industry for you. What would I blog about? Are you a writer or aren't you?

(How I could be wrong—if you truly think you would suck at blogging, don't do it. A non-existent blog is better than a half-assed one that is only updated a few times a year, with the only intent of the post being to make sure the blog has been updated that year.)

2) Tweet. Just do it. Excuses and retorts same as above.

(How I could be wrong—if you're positive the only tweets you have to share with the world are the aforementioned 250 posts a day with self-aggrandizing links, yeah don't do that.)

3) Facebook Author Page. Just do it. But I don't know how to use Facebook! Learn. I don't have anything to say! Use Networked Blogs to auto-feed your blog posts there, it's something at least, and not hard to do.

(How I could be wrong—Er ... uh, don't go looking for a Mindy McGinnis FB author page just yet.)

4) Join author groups, crit sessions and networks. Just do it. But I don't like other human beings! Get over it. I don't like to talk in public! Figure out how.

(How I could be wrong—if you're going to clam up or emit a stream of "Uh's..." and "Likes..." then don't do it, or at least, take some classes on public speaking.)

5) Make connections. Just do it. Go into your local indie bookstores and introduce yourself to someone who makes decisions there, offer to do classes on writing for free, open to the general public. Get your face and name out there. Email book bloggers who are open to reviews and ask if you can send them a copy. (Always ask first, or you may be giving away a free copy of your book to someone who isn't interested.) You mean, walk up to people and say, "Hi, I wrote a book?" Uh, yeah. I mean just like that. With a little more polish, though.

(How I could be wrong—choose wisely. A large bookstore with frequent appearances by writers whose names are familiar might not be interested in helping out a fledgling. Don't ever push yourself on anyone; if a blogger or bookstore owner isn't interested, accept it with grace. Have the aforementioned business card on hand so you can deliver a polite one or two-liner, then exit. They don't want you hovering over them expecting an answer on the spot. Let them look into who you are and what you're offering on their time.)

Remember, even the best full-court press is broken occasionally, so there will be fouls and out-of-bounds calls. Just keep looking down court and don't be afraid to take a shot—you'll always miss 100% of the field goals you don't attempt.


Christopher Hudson said...

Got the blog thing ... it's lonely, but I do it. I've got accounts, but I don't get the Tweet/Fazebook thing ... got no idea what that is all about ... I try to figure it out, but I just don't get it.

Matt Sinclair said...

Thanks, Coach!

Mindy McGinnis said...

Christopher - Unfortunately, it's a serious part of being an author these days. Some people love it, some people hate it. I'm a lover, but, that's probably pretty obvious :)

Matt - get back in the game! ;)

Jemi Fraser said...

Good suggestions, Coach! I've found Twitter and blogging a lot of unexpected fun - even though I was scared to pieces when I started :) I'll attack FB once I have something to promote!

Mindy McGinnis said...

Agreed Jemi - I have yet to set up a FB page for that reason. I'm ready now... but lacking that awesome author photo. Need to make that happen.