Saturday, June 6, 2015

Brave New Writer

Image result for brave new world images
I was thinking about my last post - and my suggestion that you get to know bookstore staff. But it occurred to me that I haven't even approached a bookstore employee since my last book came out. Why would I expect anyone else to be comfortable doing that?

But this is the Brave New World that writers occupy. Self-promotion and putting yourself out there are really a huge part of the job. It doesn't matter if you're talented. Or charming. Or can write a book a year. (Though all of that is great!). If you can't self-promote, you're f*cked. I know that first hand.

I want people to be prepared for all aspects of life as a published writer - and self-promotion is one of those things. Patricia Fry wrote a popular book about ... promoting books! She says you should be talking to everyone every day about your book. Everyone. Bakers, bankers, bus drivers - and yes, bookstore clerks.

In the old days, you could leave all that to your fancy publisher and you could spend the day getting drunk, writing, getting more drunk, while waiting for a publicist someone else paid for to take you to an appearance someone else arranged. Then you could do your reading and get drunk again. Not necessarily in that order.

This is the way the business used to be. It was certainly the business I thought I was getting into when I was struck by the writing bug decades ago. And if I made the rules, that's the way it would still be. But I didn't. Like I said, it's a brave new world out there and we need brave new writers.

I know it might feel awkward for some people (especially and ironically, writers) to walk up to a someone who works in a bookstore and say, "Hey! Look at me. I'm a writer." But if you're successful at your dream of being a writer, you're going to meet a lot of bookstore staff in your time, so you might as well get started. Start getting brave. Start putting yourself out there. Lay the foundations before your book hits the shelf - because it's way too late to start promoting yourself when it does.  Trust me.

So I'm going to amend the bookstore exercise a little bit. Even I should be able to do this one. The next time you're in a bookstore, find a nice-looking staff member and say:

"Hey, I'm a writer." btw try to stop saying 'I want to be a writer.' That's for sissies. If you write, you're a writer. Period. "And I'm doing some research for the book I'm working on. Can you recommend any good romances/mysteries/business books out there?" Or whatever genre you're interested in.

I bet the person is going to be delighted to help you, knowledgeable about the titles - and probably interested in what you're working on. And if that's not enough, you're going to get to get to check out the competition, learn something from them - and make a new contact in a bookstore. That's a huge score for being just a little bit brave. :)

And here's that title I mentioned by Patricia Fry: Promote Your Book: Over 250 Proven, Low-Cost Tips and Techniques for the Enterprising Author. Lots of info for newbie and experienced writers about promoting your books!

Good luck! Let me know how it goes!