Ignore Me (please don’t ignore me)
There’s a weird place you have to live in when you want to promote your writing. You’re either slamming the pavement like a motherfucker, netting interviews, reviews, random blog posts, podcast appearances, readings, and so on or you’re doing nearly nothing at all—since you have to look like you don’t care about anything BUT writing, you know, for art and stuff.
Likely, the ideal is somewhere between those two. You find a sweet spot where the tweets and status updates aren’t making people roll their eyes and you’re ensuring the signal boost your book needs.
I call bullshit on all of it. Not because I live with an internal scream of oily panic whenever I release any of my writing into the world, but because I’m exhausted of marketing being a low point in this process.
Marketing as an author is something tens of thousands have written about. I’ve got a strange feeling nobody is necessarily right in their direction, and that’s fine – marketing is not exact. What I think is missing from the equation is you, yeah YOU. What does this mean to you as a writer who wants every eye on their pages? Seriously, let’s admit that part first: we do this for attention of some kind. Sure, we can go on with that cliché crap about needing to write, but for serious all we want is for people to pat us on the back, lean in, and assure us that we haven’t spent months wasting our goddamn time with our ridiculousness.
What the fuck am I prattling on about? Well, where does a writer feel comfortable? Why should we hold ourselves to a different standard when marketing as opposed to when writing? Why not find a path to meets our needs while putting in the effort?
I’ve been mulling over that for a hot minute. I don’t obsess over sales numbers—too dangerous—but I pay attention. Still, are my actions to trumpet and hustle truly worth it? Should that matter? I enjoy ranting, so why not blog? I dig talking to people about craft, so why not interview/podcast. I LOVE tweeting GIFs, so why not tweet book-related GIFs?
On the flip side, I’m cheap. So why pay for ads? Why make bookmarks with my face on them? Why run book giveaways when I’ve yet to see a single review from one?
Why should I hold myself or others to a generic standard that doesn’t meet with…
…give me a sec here because typing this gives me a case of dry heaves…
Ugh, God, my platform? *vomits forever*
I don’t have an answer for other writers and I’ll forever side-eye the first motherfucker that pretends they do. I’m not even entirely sure what works for me, man, there ain’t no chance I’ll have a glimmer of understanding of what works for you.
That said, maybe what works for me is enjoying the process—warts and all. I like the challenge of finding new readers as much as cracking a chapter edit. Like publishing, maybe it doesn’t have to be a single tract to success anymore? Maybe we can try our hand at, well, anything?
That brings me to the current hustle: Blacky Jaguar Against the Cool Clux Cult. How do I manage a platform when most folks I’m delivering the message to 1) know me already and 2) are probably other writers? Maybe the answer is to do what I’ve always been doing while trying one or two new things out. It doesn’t need to be an all-out assault on the internet or my wallet.
I also have to depend on the water’s current. There’s not much control in whether anything breaks out or utterly busts. Think about the millions of advertising dollars that gets dumped on a summer sequel that shits the bed in the box-office even though it was a “sure-bet” while a low-budget toss out obliterates internationally (see Get Out, currently #1 in fucking South Korea and making a shit ton more than its budget back while Alien: Covenant’s open struggled to beat Guardians of The Galaxy on its 3rd week).
I’m not comparing an indie-press book to big budget movies directly, but I think the spirit of my argument is true. We can work towards success, absolutely, but I do believe there are factors we all need to accept are utterly outside of our control. We need to accept that no matter what we do some will ignore us and move on, even when we sweat and bleed over our keyboards. I think that makes being as true to yourself as possible deeply important. Whether that makes you aloof, a diva, or “weird” shouldn’t matter.
So as I ramp up to my third published release, what am I going to do? I’ll do the things I enjoy. I’ll do readings and talk shop with folks. Maybe a give a book or two out for free. I might even write rambling diatribes on other peoples’ websites.
Bottom line: I’m totally going to shill until your eyes bleed and you scream my name in your sleep.
So, uh, you wanna buy a book?