One of the first things my publisher told me to do before my novel Fling is published in 2015 is create a fan base. I don’t think he was referring to the kind of fan I’m used to, a mechanical object with rotating blades that whirl around and stir the air. In a way, though, I suppose the kind of fan my publisher was referring to can stir things up and call attention to our work.
Yet for someone of my disposition (I don’t love big parties or crowds; I prefer quiet intimate dinners with close friends and enjoy spending time alone), making the kind of outreach that marketing a book requires is hard. Not only is it all consuming, taking time away from the precious little I do have for writing itself, but I also must enter a world totally different from the one I’m accustomed to.
I’ve had to learn the language of twitter (I still haven’t a clue how to make that networking approach work); tumblr (not sure exactly what this does); and Facebook (I’m a neophyte, but I’m learning how to add “friends,” many of whom I don’t know, and I’m very good at liking things that stand out); triberr (can’t figure this one out); and Pinterest (not sure how to employ this tool). I’ve signed up for blog rolls and blog hops. I’m investigating virtual book tours since real ones don’t do much for unknown authors. At the moment, I have a 15-page marketing plan, and I’ve only scratched the surface! It will be a book itself by the time I’m finished.
This sounds like sour grapes when I should be grateful that my novel will be published (and I am!), but how will all of these activities make people like my writing or become a “fan”? This marketing madness is an aspect of writing I hadn’t anticipated. While I was familiar with the demands of researching publishers and publications for long and short work, both poetry and prose, the business side of what we writers do, this other aspect of publishing has totally changed my life.
It’s also one of the reasons I am writing this blog (as so many other writers are doing), trying to make my presence as a writer known beyond my immediate friends (who must hate receiving all these posts!). At times I wonder if I’m just preaching to the choir since most writers have the same goals: We’re enrolled in Goodreads and Librarything. If we’re women, we try to keep connected with Shewrites. We’re all trying to sell books, but are we actually reaching those readers who aren’t writers themselves, the ones we want to attract?
I would like to hear from other writers who are also going through this process and have advice on how to survive it. Meanwhile, here I am, stirring up a little air on the Internet in my search for fans.