Tooting Your Own Horn

Over the past two weeks (Here and Here), I’ve been working on, and chronicling my attempt at formulating a career plan.

To recap briefly, I’ve got my Mission statement:

I want to be able to maintain, or improve my current lifestyle through telling stories.

And I’ve got the first steps to achieving that plan:

Write regularly.

Produce (and Submit) work.

Now I’m onto the third step, and here I should point out that I’m calling these things steps, but they aren’t something that I do once and move on. These “Steps” are something that I am going to be doing constantly, and in tandem with each other.

On with that third step:

Promoting myself.

So what, exactly does this mean?

What it *doesn’t* mean is for me to shout “Buy My Stuff” in every post, on every social media platform.

Nobody wants to see that.

But I do need to let folks know that I’ve got stuff out there, so the occasional “Hey. Check this out” is appropriate.

Some of you might be wondering where the balance is. How much is too much?

Dis-Claimer-Time

I am not a marketing expert. What skills I do have, I have learned from others (Books, actual practice, etc). Simply put, I am standing on the shoulders of giants and I am still learning.

That said, here is what I’m doing now, the platforms I’m doing it on, and what my next steps are.

First and foremost there’s this Website and Blog.

I’m a firm believer in having and maintaining a website – even before you land that first publishing deal. Why? The internet is a big place and there are many different platforms for your work. You can have stuff up all over, and your website is the one place where a potential reader can find everything packaged neatly, with finely-crafted links to all of it.

Additionally, your website is the one place on the internet where you’ll have absolute control over what shows up. This will be good for news (and newsletters), updates, appearances, and space where folk can get to know you better.

That’s where the Blog comes in. I can’t tell you the number of writers whose work I’ve later picked up because of their blog. Share whatever you feel comfortable with, here is where people are going to get to know you better. Whatever you do, however often you post, make sure that you do it regularly. Like Writing itself, you don’t need to blog once a day, but it should be on a regular basis, so that folks know when to come to your website for more content.

What are my next steps with the Website?

I’ve got a comfortable Two Post a week schedule going, so I’m going to maintain that. I’d like to add features, without it becoming overwhelming.

What to add?

This past year, I let the “2 Questions With…” feature slide, and I’d like to bring that back. I could also expand that to see if I could get guest posts.

Depending on how organized I am, I might be able to add one other thing. I think that beyond that, it would take up too much time right now. I’ll revisit that in about six months and see where I am.

The next thing I want to take a look at are conventions and appearances.

I don’t do too many of these because they can get expensive pretty quickly, but they are great ways to put yourself out there where the audience is interested in the kinds of things you’re doing.

I’ve had people remember me from panels and, in at least one case, I know that a panel appearance or a reading has resulted in a sale, later on.

A word about sales: While they are important at conventions (cons), unless you’re plan is to spend most of it at a dealers table hand-selling (something I am not equipped to do at this time), the sale is secondary. The primary thing is being entertaining and engaging enough that folk remember you. If they do that, then maybe they’ll pick up your book, and maybe they’ll tell other folks about it. The individual sale is good, but word of mouth sells books.

Next steps?

Well…unless I get a huge influx of funds from somewhere, this is an area that is going to remain static for the time being. My work here is to continue to be as approachable and engaging as I can be.

The last thing I want to mention on the topic of Self-Promotion is Social media. Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and others.

Here is where the bulk of the people are. And I’m not just talking about the people you hang out with, or want to hang out with, or even potential readers.  I mean *Everyone.*

This has its positives and negatives. Your solitary signal can easily get lost in all the noise – which would be a negative – but, then again, a tweet that goes viral can be seen by many thousand s of people.

It’s becoming more and more necessary for a blooming writer to have some kind of social media presence. Agents and Editors will ask you about it.

Here is where I’ll admit that I need to do the most work. I use a website/utility called Hootsuite to schedule posts and tweets, but I need to work more on being more spontaneous with it – It’s a skill that I’ve got to work on developing.

I need to do the same thing with Facebook, honestly. The challenge there is setting aside the time to do it. The same goes for Instagram, which at the moment, feels like too much of a total time commitment to investigate at this time.

So there you have it. Again Self-Promotion all comes down to planning and carving out time to do the work. Again, like writing, it’s not always work, and you can get a great deal of enjoyment out of it, but you’ve got to make sure there’s balance and, again, that’s the name of the game.

See you on Thursday.

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Be sure to check out the Freebies Page for story Excerpts.

If you’ve read, and enjoyed any of my books, please consider leaving a review:

Weird Wild West

Trials

Chasing the Light

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