It’s hard to not be aware of the content on either Facebook or Twiiter, as it’s sort of “in one’s face” – as the cliché goes. Also the ATT-Yahoo main news pages, as with others like the drudge site, has the list of what is “trending” at the moment. I know a lot of that is “news” content, and so how does that affect marketing trends? I may be late to understanding a lot about how the digital world works. There is a good discussion on that in Brad Thor’s past previous publication “Black List.” It is also a reason why the NSA and IRS news of late is not really a new item to many in government, publication and digital media minded types.
Related to the trends issue was an item I came across from a friend’s post this morning. The general question was about whether today’s youth really understands the difference between dependence on government healthcare versus the freedom of the marketplace in medicine or other business. Then there was the reference link which was given when I asked for the reference to accompany that post, which I thought was more interesting about the social media subject, and youth trends. Keeping this preamble short, check out this link and piece by Ellis Hamburger. Dated March 1, I still found it timely:
A lot going on and as usual, each new turn raises more questions.
The rich have been in the news since the “Occupy” sit-ins. Well, further back than that of course. Currently the 1% is being blogged about and referred to in “social media” circles. Is it important to writers? Possibly. Bookstores are affected by the economy and market trends. I got fairly beat up on a social media comment reply that went five or six rounds. The topic was the 1% and their fair share. You can see where this was going. The other person didn’t believe my point. It came down to neither accepting the other’s premise of the issue, referring to “anti-business” and the 1% rich not paying their “fair share”. My first response is, “quit complaining and change the tax code.” We know how tough that is. I know there is rich and then there is “the rich.” Are bookstores rich? Are independent shop owners the rich? Are publishers, the largest press houses a part of the 1%? The other economic factor ignored is that anyone’s money is not a static entity. One spends it. On might save or invest a certain percent. That invested amount gets spent in the other funds of those institutions. The spending goes to others in the local, state businesses, and across the country in online purchases. The money doesn’t stay. The rich, the 1% money gets spent too, back into system near and far, to businesses for purchases. The money they park is going into other earning funds.
I recall an F. Scott Fitzgerald and Hemingway anecdote. Scott said, “I think there is something very different and special about the rich, don’t you?” Hem replied, “Yes. The rich have more money.”
That’s a good example of differing POV between artists in their time. And as the saying goes, “less is more,” they speak volumes. The so-called 1% aren’t any different from us.
Another starving artist signing off here.
Timothy J. Desmond
THE DOC, ebook conspiracy thriller novel at
SWIM THE RED RIVER short story at
Tim’s Amazon author page at: http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B00694KQQO
Sorry about the last nine days of gap here. On the topic of being overwhelmed ………….
In a COMMENT TO ANOTHER BLOGGER Eloise Currie at http://emcmemoir.wordpress.com/2012/05/15/social-media-writing-and-keeping-up-with-it-all/
On the subject of being overwhelmed: Yes, this is my problem too, and it really strikes a nerve. One thinks that one is organized, and then BANG. One has to drop all plans. I’ve taken to writing memos to myself on phone “memo app” – as I get blog ideas, and also novel scene thoughts; then later, on reflection, everything I’ve thought of seems so trite. Ages ago, one English/writer instructor lectured about “concentration.” His view was that “concentration” meant “taking breaks” then “getting back to the work” …. the breaks could be days, weeks. But, in the end, his point was “keeping at it.” This was from the late Malcolm Wood, English instructor emeritus California College of Arts & Crafts and UC Berkeley. So, yes, overwhelmed, but trying to stay at it.
The problem is not new, evidently. Samuel Clemens wrote of the problem of newspaper editors.
“How editors can continue this tremendous labor, this exhausting consumption of brain fiber (for their work is creative, and not a mere mechanical laying up of facts, like reporting), day after day, year after year, is incomprehensible.” Mark Twain.
Writer’s Self Promotion
The topic of promoting oneself brings to mind several aspects and related personalities of the past. There must be a huge ego thing with politicians for their self promotions which is not denied and which is a way of life for them. It could also be true for rock stars and others in the entertainment business. In the writing and publishing business, just look at the giants from the large presses and literature world. Where are the centers? They are: New York City, London, Sidney, Rome, Berlin, Hong Kong, and Paris.
How does one from Wichita make it? Or from Cape Girardeau, Missouri? Is Rush Limbaugh the exception? Maybe not. Samuel Clemens did stand up one man shows. I need to break this down for myself. Most of us are not thinking of ourselves as writers as “entertainers.” But, we are entertainers of some sort, as are graphic artists. As a brief example, I was in an art school class once. We all had to pin our work on the wall at the end of each session in order to critique and get critiqued. This was huge. The instructor was a French trained artist and at the beginning he explained the concept. Each student’s work was about 20×30 inches format, of pencil, oil pastel and turpentine media. At a glance of the 25 to 30 hanging all over one wall, one could see at a glance which work or works stood out from the others. This the instructor explained that way, “That one’s work must be different than others, that it must be treated in a style that stands out from the others.” Yet, for most of us, we are in “day jobs” and we are neither in the traditional entertainment business nor connected with media outlets. I’ll come back to this point later.
Are there two kinds of promoting? There is one kind for getting known in the publishing business world, and the other kind in the promotion of sales of one’s product.
In the first kind, sending to agents and editors is a given. The query letter is an art in itself. What I have learned is that the more editors and agents contacted, the better one gets. One simply must keep that up. It’s akin to making cold calls in sales. A writer must do that. Back in the early 1980’s I had a start up business of screen printing. I wasn’t interested in T-shirts, although I did them, but I wanted commercial business for printing adhesive decals for business. I enjoyed going to the businesses and pitching my service. I got shot down a lot. But I also got jobs from some. And that was a small industrial market. A writer has to do that too.
At a writer’s conference, I first learned about “platform.” At that time, four or five years ago, I was under the impression it was a nonfiction agent/editor thing. Platform, as I understand it, is defined as the quantity or number of your readers in your local area or region. This could be those who have bought your writing before, or who have followed your writing enough to be potential buyers in a larger market. This is what concerns editors and agents because it is a measure of your business potential. It is a business reality. Your platform could be your local circle of friends and acquaintances, or could range to your county or statewide readership.
In the second kind of promoting, that of sales and marketing a produced product, is not something a writer initially thinks about. When one actually has something in print, or an e-format product to promote is automatically assumed that the publisher will market one’s work. I suppose it is a boring thing for many creative people. After all, we didn’t start writing as business and marketing majors at university. However, that is where we should have taking courses as a secondary major or minor. Over the past few years it has become a revelation to me that certain recording artists were marketing majors. So, yes, I fall into that class of former students who ignored the business department at university. The one good thing is that most universities offer evening classes in marketing. Mostly because there was such a demand by working people to complete undergad and graduate course requirements for those working on MBA degrees. Huge trends in the 1980s were businesses seeking MBA grads.
I must admit to some embarrassment now. It was only two years ago that I was asked to write a “marketing plan” and received at least some help in seeing another writer’s example. I don’t know if it was a new thing or complete ignorance, being beyond naive, that I had not heard of this before that moment. In my defense, I had known of and created a “media packet.” A media packet is a part of the marketing plan. Just as one has to be creative in the original work, one has to be creative in writing the promotion copy for that work. Yes, you must do it all. Contact and schedule your radio, TV, online and print interviews. Write and schedule your own press releases. Plan these releases.
Schedule your own signing events. Yes, go to bookstores and get book signing event dates scheduled. My first signing event was in a small town “Books and Bagels” shop. The second signing event was at “used book store.” Hilarious?
Approaching newspaper reviewers, in order to get a local review of your work into print, is a must. If any of this sounds like “not reaching out to the masses” remember that editors and agents still want “platform.” Yes, this means making more “cold calls.” It also means making different kinds of pitches. I don’t think there is enough room or time here to cover the different types of sales pitches. For radio, TV, print media, the approaches are different as one can imagine. And that is it. You must imagine something, some best way to pitch your work, beyond the “query pitch” that hooked your editor. If you are self-publishing, the same thing applies.
Getting interviews is not easy. But, they can be had. I’ve had an interview on the radio about a World War II novel on a “hometown heroes” program. The program format was interviews of aged veterans and their stories. I had a TV interview on a small VHF station during a talk show-movie format similar to “officer and a movie” with Lou Diamond Phillips. The interesting thing about doing those were getting some stats back about their audience, and any audience response.
All this while, you must be working on new projects.
So, in the end, the best “self promotion” is being an artist with your work. That art, your work, whether, short story, poem, novel, play, or screenplay must stand out from the others being shown at the time. You must be different, original and entertaining. If you are lucky the response you get is your critique. Many can’t take the critique. You must be able to take the critique, and keep working to get better, get different, get noticed.
Things will change. I believe it’s better in California already. We live here in the valley- a very depressed area both historically and during the recent 2008 + crunch. Yet it was booming here during the real estate boom, just like elsewhere. But, this past three months, it seems there are increases in sales, building, and jobs here. It isn’t pefect. Commercial spaces, some new, sit empty. And a neighbor has been out of work 2 years and is not hopeful. But, he is in a tough age group, late 50’s, and has turned down lower paying work.