When I was first published, I remember how hard I marketed. I went to conventions, posted on blogs, wrote thank you notes, sent emails, wrote and sent newsletters, stayed “in touch” with my “fans” . . . worked on creating buzz by having friends post reviews on online sites (and I returned the favor whenever I could), contacted libraries, sent review copies (often at my own expense) to anyone who’d read my books, participated in the American Bookseller Association’s promotions and on and on.
All that marketing yielded a name in the mystery community — albeit a smallish name in the pantheon of great and well-known writers — but many folks did know me. I was nominated for two awards which gave me street cred in certain circles. What all that work didn’t yield was a major audience, a NY publishing contract, or enough money to pursue fiction as my main career.
It also put the emphasis squarely on Marketing/PR. And that, my friends, is bass ackwards. Writers need to write. That’s their job. It’s their expertise. The heavy lifting in marketing and PR belongs to Marketing and Public Relations pros.
I actually think that’s at the heart of much of the trouble in the publishing industry today. People forgot their jobs, tried to cut corners or take on what they oughtn’t’ve and now we have a mess.
In regards to Marketing and PR, I have a heightened sensitivity. I’ve worked in the field going on three decades. I can smell tricks and techniques from miles away. Now every writer I know is a marketer. Every single one is trying to hit me with the latest version of marketing know-how. And here’s what happens: the more I’m hit, the more tricks I perceive, the more diluted the message becomes and . . . the less I buy.
Maybe I’m in a subset of audiences that don’t like to feel accosted or badgered. Maybe I just know too many writers. But I’ve become a real curmudgeon.
Some people might claim I’m being a hypocrite. Murderati and my FB pages are Marketing/PR. It’s true they were when I started them, but that’s not what they do for me now. I post blogs because I like the conversations that ensue and that my world includes readers I may never meet but with whom I feel friendships blossoming. The same is true for FB.
This year I plan to self-publish some of my work. You’d think that’d put me back on the Marketing/PR treadmill, that I’d be looking for the latest analytics and techniques to reach the most potential readers.
I’m determined to find a new paradigm. I think it’s going to have to do with having a butt-load of product so that if a reader likes one of my works, he or she will look for others — and the works will be there to purchase. If one reader enjoys something, I hope he or she will tell someone else . . .
Simple. No bells or whistles.
And I’ll just keep writing.